Photo Tips #4

by Frank Anzalone, staff writer
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Sharing vacation photos with friends and family are always special moments. And in this session, my photo tips are aimed at taking pictures of the parks themselves... many of the spots that I love to search out and photograph. There is so much to see and way too much to try to cover with one photo tip article, but this should give you the basics for your next Disney visit! This edition will feature the Disney Resort parks and park landscapes both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World, guiding you with more specifics for capturing unique Disney park images and memories that make great photo keepsakes.

My first (and biggest) photo tip is... "Take lots of pictures!" Have you ever looked back at your vacation photographs and just wished there were more to look at? The price of film is worth every penny when you walk away with those great shots. Every special photo memory is "priceless"! And if you have a digital camera, there's really no excuse about "wasting film" anymore.

Ok—Grab your camera and let's get clicking. And remember please keep your hands, arms and cameras in the tram while in motion.

Photographing at the parks

The one common theme throughout this edition of photo tips is to take some time to look around as you walk through the lands and see the inbetweens. Just as in Disney animation, the key drawing is the main action, and the inbetweens are what make the transitions from one main drawing to another nice and smooth. Many times when we go to the parks, we rush from one big attraction to another, so I hope these photo tips inspire you to take a little extra time to notice the special (and many times unnoticed) inbetweens as you walk through the parks.


As you walk through Disney's California Adventure, you pass the Golden State winery area. The afternoon light filters through the leaves and grapes, adding nice contrast and depth to the plants. To enhance the landscape picture (and to help tell the story of where I was), I set the camera angle so you can see a little bit of the familiar icon in the background. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

What our eyes see is a grand perspective of our surroundings. What the camera sees is a small area and a split second of those surroundings. This is the big challenge when taking vacation photographs—what should I take a picture of? When choosing your scene to take a picture, sometimes the larger area and grand view is what we want, and sometimes you might want to get in nice and close to selectively choose what you are trying to show with a photograph. With these photos, you will see a few different perspectives... and then you decide what you like! After all, you are the photographer!


The Castle has always been the main Disney icon for photographs. Try shooting a picture from the sides of the castle instead of directly in front. You will get a less populated image when you take a picture from these angles. You might also frame your picture with some of the detailed landscaping to add to your image. Sleeping Beauty's Castle [left] was taken right next to the moat at the castle's edge and Cinderella's Castle [right] was taken from the dining area near the entrance to Tomorrowland. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

The typical angle is to shoot your image straight on, but most times you are sharing that view with many other park guests (and waiting for a clear shot that you may never get). If you stand just to the sides and frame your picture just right, you can get a great picture and help minimize the number of strangers in your photograph.


Another picturesque image at the park is of the Partners Statue. Look at the figure from a few angles, use the castle, or the Matterhorn to add to the composition in the background. Photo by Frank Anzalone.


Getting in close can make an interesting picture. The familiar structure is not the focal point of these photographs, it was used for the background. Focus your camera on the closer images to set the background a little out of focus (yet still very recognizable). On the left, a Main street lamp with Sleeping Beauty's Castle as a background and on the right, the entrance iron work gate to the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom at WDW. Photo by Frank Anzalone.


Disney has taken great care to tell a story with characters at the parks. The brooms from Fantasia [left] are part of the landscaping in front of the Brown Derby restaurant at the Disney Studios in Walt Disney World. Frame your picture close to one character and the others will support your picture story. [right] As you leave your "it's a small world" ride experience, the clock tower is larger than life. Although this is a small section of the overall attraction display, you need not see more to know exactly where you are. and you can get a close, detailed photograph! Photo by Frank Anzalone.


When shooting large landscapes of Disney parks, I enjoy using reflections and remembering the "Rule of Thirds" (divide the sky, land and water into 1/3 proportions for composition). [left] Notice the curve of the flowerbed that draws your eyes to the monorail here at Epcot Center. [right] In this picture, the curves of the rollercoaster draw your eye from left to right to the Sun Wheel focal point. Remember that the focal point does not always have to be in the center of your picture! Photo by Frank Anzalone.


Here again is an example of the "Rule of Thirds" for composition. [left] Spaceship Earth at Epcot is the focal point of this photograph, framed in with the water and trees. [right] Using the water and reflections here also give a sense of movement for the Disneyland Monorail. Photo by Frank Anzalone.


As you walk through the parks, take a moment to notice just some of the little areas that are "inbetweens" of the main attractions. [left] Rounding the castle at Disneyland on the way to Fantasyland, I found these park guests relaxing in the shade. [right] Strolling from land to land at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the landscaping is very lush... and you never know when you will pass by some extremely unique vegetation. Photo by Frank Anzalone.


Our family enjoys the search for Hidden Mickeys when we visit the parks. If you keep your eyes open, you will see that even Mother Nature likes to play the Hidden Mickey game. [left] At Disney's Animal Kingdom, I was photographing the Tree of Life with its reflection in the water, and noticed a familiar shaped set of lily pads (bottom of the picture, almost center). At Disneyland [right], the cactus in front of Big Thunder Mountain also took on that familiar shape. Photo by Frank Anzalone.


When the day is done and you are walking out of the parks, sometimes it pays to not only look where you are going, but to also at where you have been, as there is always time for one last picture. [left] At Disney's California Adventure, the medallion sculpture in the middle of Sunshine Plaza had the sunset colors reflecting off the metal, and the moon was above in the sky. No need to be far back for this picture—frame in close to tell the story. [right] Walking out after a long day at Epcot Center, just before walking through the exit turnstiles, I caught Spaceship Earth with it's evening lighting. Photo by Frank Anzalone.

Next time

That completes our forth edition of Frank's Photo Tips. The next edition will concentrate on taking pictures of the Park characters. Each time we go to a Disney park, we seem to notice something different (and we have been countless times!), and the various characters you find at the parks just add to the experience!

Something to remember...

Although I receive comments about my photos, one important thing you need to know is that it's all in the eye of the photographer. You do not need to use the most expensive camera on the market to get a good image. You can get a great picture if you take a moment to use a few simple and easy techniques. These "tips" are just suggestions and ideas to use when you are the cameraperson. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad picture... some are just better!

I hope this might inspire you to want to take more and more pictures, and capture those special Disney memories and moments. So plan that trip to the Park, pick up your camera, take lots of pictures and see what develops!