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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
Capturing Magical Moments at WDW: Part III Still Photography
Friday, February 6, 2004
Brian, on how he loves to take pictures that involve detail
I like to take close-up shots of details that interest me. These images are much more difficult to make interesting because there just isn't as much going on in the photograph. They are useful to point out specific things, but are not really 'eye candy' like the establishing shots give you. For example, here is a picture I took of a Dole Whip. It took this picture during my November 2000 visit to Walt Disney World for one purpose and one purpose only: to tease Mike Scopa about the fact that I'd just had a Dole Whip and he hadn't. Is it a great picture? Not really. Is it colorful and interesting? Hardly. Did it make a point? I bet Mike is salivating just from looking at it. I'll have to let him judge for me.
Brian is right. I'm a slave to Dole Whips good picture.
Brian also points out a very important third category of picture taking at WDW: that of his family. I, too, share this passion.
Brian, on how photos of family can work for you
The third kind of picture I enjoy taking are pictures of my family enjoying themselves in the parks. With two young boys and a gorgeous young wife, I have a lot of opportunities to take pictures of our family with characters, on the attractions, and just hamming it up for the camera. Such pictures are often taken indoors, and the automatic flash on my camera does a nice job of giving just enough light without washing out the subject.
And that's what it's all aboutcapturing a moment that your family will treasure forever.
I know that sometimes I forget the most simple of tips, and it may be helpful if I point out some of these to you.
When you are planning to take pictures of one of the parades, be sure to locate a viewing spot that will have the sun looking over your shoulder. You're saying, C'mon Mike, everybody knows that!
That's true, but sometimes the primary goal for some of us is just to find a spot to watch the parade. If you will be photographing the parade you need to know where the sun will be in relation to where you're sitting.
For example, if you want to take photos of the afternoon Magic Kingdom Parade, one of the best place to plant yourself is outside Casey's Corner on Main Street, USA. As the floats come around the castle area they will be facing you and the sun will be shining on them and not in your lens.
As you go through the Magic Kingdom or any theme park, look for those Kodak photo spots, and take note as to why these spots make for great pictures. You may understand how best to select your own photo spots in other parts of the parks.
When dealing with characters and character meetings be ready to snap that shutter. As you stand in line waiting for your child's chance to hug Chip or Dale look through your camera to get an idea as to how you will frame the picture and capture that smile.
This will save you some time and anxiety when it's your turn to capture a smile.
This is near and dear to my heart: Be aware of your surroundings. You will never be anywhere else in the world where more shutters will be snapped than in WDW. This means that at any one time you may find yourself walking in front of someone trying to take a photograph keep your eyes peeled.
Mostbut not allWDW guests are usually in a good mood, so if you see someone who you think wouldn't mind taking a second to snap a picture of you and a friend, spouse, significant other, or Dole Whip, don't be afraid to ask.
Also, if you see guests who may be in need of a friendly photographer, make the offer to snap a picture of them.
It's all part of Disney magic.
Brian, on the use of composition and candids
To me, taking a great picture with a simple point-and-shoot digital camera boils down to composition. Taking a great picture requires having interesting subject material and an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of that material. For one thing, avoid taking 'antiseptic-looking' photos of empty rooms and areas of the park. A lot of empty concrete without people is depressing.
Attempt to get a contrast between foreground material and background material. Even though the main purpose of taking the photograph is either far away or close up, adding something else to the composition adds interest. You can see how this photograph, with the lamp post in the foreground, adds depth and makes an otherwise boring picture a bit more interesting. Even though this picture is a bit washed out, it's fun to look at.
Fill up that picture! There's nothing more boring than looking at a photograph that has a subject that looks like nothing more than a smudge in the center. Here's a picture of a stork that I recently took over at Animal Kingdom. It was amazing how close this bird allowed me to get without plucking out my eyeballs, but the result, I think, makes for a very interesting picture.
Take natural pictures. It's great to get the whole family lined up in front of Cinderella's Castle for an annual picture, but don't forget about those pictures that show your family, especially the kids, just enjoying themselves. The wonder and amazement that you can sometimes capture in the twinkle of your son or daughter's eye are priceless, and much more fun to look at than just another fabricated group shot with everyone plastering on those too big smiles. This picture of my son, Michael, was taken on his very first drive on the Tommorrowland Speedway just a few days ago. The smile is completely for real. After all, he really was driving for the very first time!
Again, Brian makes some key points about balance, being natural, and being aware of your family's enjoyment and capturing that joy.
While jotting down notes for this particular article, I was looking at several boxes containing many envelopes of pictures from vacations past. I then realized that scrapbooking should be a part of this discussion.
For this part of our session, I asked Brian to talk a bit about scrapbooking, and how MouseMemories (link) could help me and others turn a pile of envelopes into a treasure.
Brian, on scrapbooking and MouseMemories
An Internet poll taken a couple of years ago indicated that the average family takes 13 to 14 rolls of film on a Disney vacation. Those development envelopes can really pile up! Often they just get tucked into a drawer and maybe brought out occasionally. Those pictures were originally taken to help you remember that terrific trip experience. Yet, unfortunately, they are usually all but forgotten.
MouseMemories began as a hobby. Barbara Bennett, my wife, was introduced to scrapbooking several years ago and immediately loved it. She began creating memory albums for our family, our sons, our hobbies, and our vacations. As Disney fans and Disney Vacation Club owners, we often would travel to WDW at least once a year, taking many pictures on each trip.
It quickly became a challenge to find the perfect products to make even more Disney pages without repeating previous ideas. There is a lot of great Disney scrapbooking supplies out there, but each store or online site only carries a tiny fraction of them.
MouseMemories was created out of a desire to bring them all together into a one-stop shopping place for all those great Disney products.
Now, I couldn't let Brian stop there. I know that this scrapbooking idea will get someone's interest up, including mine. I asked Brian to expand a bit on what MouseMemories could do for me. Unlike those average families we usually go through 24 rolls of film, I had enough photos to add an addition onto the house to store these pictures.
Brian explained that MouseMemories has a team of professionals who can turn those envelopes of pictures into a beautiful, custom album. Beyond that, Brian assured me that all the materials used are of archival quality to protect people's pictures.
So after you've come back from a great family vacation and develop all those pictures, you can go from this:
A mess of memories. Photo by Brian Bennett.
An album of memories. Photo by Brian Bennett.
I'd like to thank Brian for his contributions to this article, especially for giving in and mentioning MouseMemories and the service it provides.
We always hear about Disney magic and magical moments, and a few months back we were introduced to the term Magical Gatherings.
In our next session, we will look at an extraordinary magical gathering that took place in the Magic Kingdoma gathering that was 40 years in the making.
Mike Scopa first visited Walt Disney World almost 30 years ago. Planning a trip was simple back in the 1970s, with only the Magic Kingdom and a few Disney-owned resorts in Orlando.
Over the past 11 years, Mike has been perfecting his WDW trip-planning skills as he has hosted chats and bulletin boards about Disney for a Fortune 100 company.
Mike brings his experience to MousePlanet in a series of lessons to help you with all the phases of planning a WDW trip.
Mike pays special attention to all the details that ensure your family has the best possible time at the Happiest Place on Earth.
You can contact Mike here.
Here are trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives:
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, The Trip Planner for more travel planning information.
Get the latest info about the resort at Park Update: Walt Disney World.
MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.