Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Travel: Disneyland - Photography Notes

Monochrome Curves - Anaheim, California
I found this new-leaf growth on a plant while waiting in a line for a ride. It was converted to black-and-white because color wasn't important to the image. I added contrast to make it more dramatic.

Like with my recent trip to Yosemite, I'm concluding this series with some photography notes. In this post you'll find my favorite photographs plus some other images that I wanted to comment on.

As I mentioned in the first Disneyland post, all of the photographs were captured using a Nikon D3300 DSLR with a Nikkor 40mm AF-S DX F/2.8G Micro lens attached to it. All I needed was one camera and one lens and nothing else. All of the photographs were post-processed using Alien Skin Exposure 6 software.
Carthay Circle Theatre - Anaheim, California
This is a replica of a famous structure in Los Angeles that existed from 1926 to 1969. 
Red Car Trolley - Anaheim, California
This falls into the category of Street Photography. The image works because the driver (and to a lesser extent the person to the right) are looking at the camera.
Two In Mater's Junkyard - Anaheim, California
I purposely composed this back-lit, placing the strong sun at the top-left corner behind the girl. I wanted to give the feeling of late-afternoon warmth.
Ornament Valley From Radiator Springs - Anaheim, California
If Radiator Springs, Arizona, and the Ornament Valley National Park were real, this is what a photograph captured there might look like. 
Flo's V8 Cafe - Anaheim, California
Gotta love the neon lights. This makes me want to travel Route 66 and visit the real towns found along the old highway. 
Flo's Cafe - Anaheim, California
I just love how this looks and feels like a real place, as if I was at some intersection in some small town along the Mother Road and found this cafe. 
Buena Vista Street Trolley - Anaheim, California
Another "street" image. If this had been a color photograph it would have been bland and ordinary. As monochrome it looks classic. Note the use of the track as a leading line from the bottom-right corner to the trolley.
Stages of Blossom - Anaheim, California
This macro image is moody. I underexposed it slightly and added contrast and grain.  It works far better as black-and-white than color because in color the feeling is completely different. 
Columbia Sunset - Anaheim, California
The sunset wasn't actually this nice. It was quite bland and boring, in fact. I bumped up the saturation a whole bunch, and also added a semi-transparent warm-orange/yellow color layer to increase the amount of color found in the photograph. 
Blue Water - Anaheim, California
During The World of Color show lights turn the water a bunch of different colors. I thought that a photograph of the water blue was appropriate. 
Frightening Fire - Anaheim, California
If you look carefully (and squint) you can see what looks like a scary face. That was a happy accident.
Colorful Mickey Mouse - Anaheim, California
This is the post-show colors. It stayed this way for perhaps five minutes after the show ended.
Thirsty - Anaheim, California
This image was staged. Yes, the kids were thirsty, but I told them where to stand and what to do.
Future Design - Anaheim, California
This photograph is about lines, repeated shapes and contrast and pretty much nothing else.
Take Me Back In Time - Anaheim, California
Was this captured in 2014 or 1914? By not including too much I was able to create some mystery.
Rosamond Tufa - Anaheim, California
This is found on the Big Thunder Mountain ride. I learned that this fake mountain was made from dirt mined near Rosamond, California. It's supposed to resemble the hoodoos at Bryce Canyon in Utah, but to me it looks more like tufa found at Mono Lake. I guess it isn't exactly like either. I darkened the sky to simulate the use of an orange filter.
Blossom Colors - Anaheim, California
This is one of my favorite flower images. The bonus is the tiny bug. The only thing that would have made it better is if the bug was facing towards the camera. 
Tom Sawyer's Island - Anaheim, California
The only thing that makes this image work is contrast.
Columbia - Anaheim, California
This is a replica of the Columbia Rediviva, which was the first American ship to sail the globe. It was also the first ship to navigate the Columbia River (the river was named after the ship). 
Ornament Valley - Anaheim, California
These fake rocks look real enough that you would think that Ornament Valley was a real place and that this image was captured there. The only thing missing are some star trails in the black sky.
Gas, Oil, Coolant - Anaheim, California
I couldn't get enough images of the neon lights. The brilliant colors lend themselves well to photography.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Travel: Disneyland - Day 3

Matterhorn Mountain - Anaheim, California
ISO 220, f8, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 11:01 AM.

Disneyland opened later on the third day, so we slept in a little and took our time getting out of the hotel room door. We started out in Disneyland and grabbed a coffee on our way through Main Street.

The weather on this trip had been close to perfect and this day was no exception. It was a little cool (but not cold), with an overcast sky that sometimes became blue.

The first ride of the day was the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and I was happy to see that the line was short. I remember riding this as a young kid and being completely scared. I took my two "older" kids on it and they both thought it was great.
Thirsty - Anaheim, California
ISO 900, f10, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 11:23 AM.
We followed up the roller coaster with a trip on Star Tours. This was the first time we used a "Switch Pass" which turned out to be a great little secret. The way that it works is rides that have age restrictions and a "Fast Pass" line, riders with children that are too young to ride can get a pass that allows another adult rider plus the old-enough children to go through the "Fast Pass" line. In other words, each adults gets to ride once, and the kids get to ride twice.

After that we hopped on the train at the Tomorrowland station. We took a quick tour of "the Grand Canyon" and also traveled back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth (this was a hit with the kids). We got off at the New Orleans Square station and headed to Splash Mountain.

One thing that I never realized is that the "Splash Mountain" story that you see as you go through the ride is very weird. It's based on a 1940's movie called Song of The South. I've never seen the movie, and the ride made me glad that I've never seen it. It's just very strange.
Happy - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f9, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 11:53 AM.
We rode Splash Mountain twice and then rode The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh twice. The former ride was a big hit with the two "older" kids, while the latter was a hit with the youngest.

A great place to eat, we found out, is the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. The food was good. The atmosphere was fun and relaxed. There was a little interactive show. It was a great stop for lunch.

After that we rode the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad twice. The line was short, but it quickly grew after our second trip. I think perhaps kids were getting out of school and parents were getting off work, and season ticket holders were making their way into the park, increasing the crowds.
Future Design - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f9, 1/200, 11/12/14 at 11:57 AM.
At the beginning of the day we had secured some tickets to meet Elsa and Anna (from the movie Frozen). This was for our six-year-old daughter, in particular. The tickets had specific times, so that was next on our agenda. My daughter loved the experience, but the rest of us were less-than-thrilled about it (especially my five-year-old son).

The park was already decorated for Christmas, so it was no surprise that the nightly parade through Disney was also Christmas themed. We got the best real estate that we could (it wasn't great) and waited an hour for it to start.

An hour wait with three young children is not fun. They're bored. We're getting frustrated. Anyway, the parade eventually started (about 10 minutes late) and when it (finally) came it was underwhelming. I expected better.
Take Me Back In Time - Anaheim, California
ISO 220, f7.1, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 12:36 PM.
We split Disneyland before the parade was finished and headed over to California Adventure. We had one more thing we wanted to do: Radiator Springs Racers. This was something we wanted to do from the very beginning, but hadn't yet had the chance. It was now or never.

We got to Cars Land about an hour and a half before the park closed and the wait time for the ride was one hour long. I got in line with the two "older" kids and made sure I got a Switch Pass. The wait was every bit of that hour, but the ride was great and the kids absolutely loved it. Because we had the Switch Pass the kids got to ride it again with my wife with only a short wait.

With that done we headed to Buena Vista Street to visit the shops. They stay open for a time after the park closes. Then we left the park and our Disneyland adventure was over.
Elephant Bee - Anaheim, California
ISO 640, f7.1, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 1:10 PM.
We had pushed ourselves and were very tired and hungry after leaving. Thankfully IHOP had open seats and treated us well. I thoroughly enjoyed some pumpkin cheesecake pancakes myself.

When we left I really felt as though California Adventure was more enjoyable than Disneyland. It is slightly less crowded, better laid out and better executed. Disney is superb at creating feelings--making you feel as though something is real even though it is fake. In California Adventure they really nailed this. Sure, Disneyland has more rides and things to do plus all of the classic stuff, but if I had my way I'd skip that park altogether. If I could do the trip over again I'd have spent more time in the "other" park.

That's it! We spent one more night in the hotel and headed back home the next morning. Overall it was a great and memorable trip, plus I came away with some good photographs.
Psychedelic Tigger - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/100, 11/12/14 at 1:11 PM.
Rosamond Tufa - Anaheim, California
ISO 220, f8, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 1:40 PM.
Brilliant Bloom - Anaheim, California
ISO 2500, f8, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 3:07 PM.
Blossom Colors - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f11, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 3:08 PM.
Monochrome Flower - Anaheim, California
ISO 2800, f11, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 3:09 PM.
Tom Sawyer's Island - Anaheim, California
ISO 320, f7.1, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 3:27 PM.
Columbia - Anaheim, California
ISO 900, f8, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 4:09 PM.
Mother & Son - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f4, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 4:24 PM.
Sleeping Beauty's Castle - Anaheim, California
ISO 1100, f5.6, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 4:48 PM.
Night Castle - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/50, 11/12/14 at 5:24 PM.
Cadillac Range - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/60, 11/12/14 at 7:40 PM.
Ornament Valley - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 7:42 PM.
RS - Anaheim, California
ISO 1800, f3.5, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 7:57 PM.
Gas, Oil, Coolant - Anaheim, California
ISO 560, f3.5, 1/125, 11/12/14 at 8:02 PM.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Travel: Disneyland - Day 2

Family At Disneyland - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f4.5, 1/160, 11/11/14 at 9:43 AM.

On the second day of our Disneyland adventure we headed straight for the California Adventure park to grab tickets for The World of Color show. There is only one place to get these tickets (over by the Grizzly River Run) and they run out quickly.

Once that was taken care of we made our way to Starbucks over on Buena Vista Street. I'm one of those people that require a good cup of coffee to get the day going, so this was a much-welcomed addition to the park. There is also a Starbucks on Main Street in Disneyland.

With those to essentials out of the way, we left California Adventure and crossed over to Disneyland for the first time this trip. We boarded the Disneyland Railroad at the Main Street station and rode it around to the New Orleans Square station.
Buena Vista Street Trolley - Anaheim, California
ISO 320, f7.1, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 9:49 AM.
We went to Mickey's Toontown, and I took the two older kids on Gadget's Go Coaster. The line was a bit long, but the kids had a blast. This roller coaster reminded me a little of the Roadrunner coaster at Magic Mountain.

Next we rode the Storybook Land Canal Boat because the line wasn't very long. This is definitely a slow-paced attraction. After that we went to the Royal Theatre to catch a Tangled play, which was great for the kids and mildly entertaining for the adults.

We ate lunch at the Plaza Inn on Main Street. The food was way overpriced, but that is what is expected inside the park.
Kid's Coaster - Anaheim, California
ISO 180, f7.1, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 11:02 AM.
By this time the crowds were growing quite large. It was Veterans Day, and it became obvious to us that visiting Disneyland on a holiday is not a great idea.

After lunch we went to Tomorrowland. I took the two older kids on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. It was very close, but my five-year-old son edged out my six-year-old daughter with a comeback victory (two riders go head-to-head in their fight against Zurg and his minions). We also went through Innovations. My son liked the Ironman suits, but otherwise this was a disappointment.

We needed a break, so we found some seats on the Monorail and rode it round-trip twice. The kids loved the ride, and we loved not walking or dealing with the thick crowds.
Monochrome Curves - Anaheim, California
ISO 2200, f11, 1/125, 11:10 AM.
Just as the sun was setting we climbed aboard the Sailing Ship Columbia. This is a full-size replica of the Columbia Rediviva, which was the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe and also the first ship to sail the Columbia River (the river is named after the ship).

My five-year-old son was a little afraid of the big ship because he thought it was a pirate ship (a real pirate ship). Our next stop was Pirates of The Caribbean, so we made sure to not let him know what that ride was.

Surprisingly he did very well on Pirates of The Caribbean, but the ride was perhaps a little much for our 11-month-old (he was a little nervous on the drops at the beginning of the ride). Otherwise, this was one of the highlights of our trip.
Boy & Mouse - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f5.6, 1/200, 11/11/14 at 11:24 AM.
We had dinner at the Stage Door Cafe. The chicken strips were alright, the corn dogs were below average and the fries were not good at all. All of it was way too expensive. On the bright side the funnel cake was quite tasty.

At this point our day at Disneyland was over. We hurried back over to California Adventure to catch The World of Color show.

Our viewing location was decent enough. We were close enough to feel the heat from the fire, but far enough away that we didn't get wet. The wait for the show to begin was a little much for the kids.
Girl & Mouse - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f5.6, 1/160, 11/11/14 at 11:25 AM.
The World of Color is a really cool light/water/fire show with clips of Disney movies and cartoons included. It is entertaining for people of all ages, including young children. It was worth the effort to get the tickets.

After the show we called it a night and headed back to the hotel. Once again, we saw some of the Disneyland fireworks while walking back to our hotel.

It seemed that the crowds and long lines kept us from doing all that we were hoping. The next day wasn't a holiday, so we went to bed hoping to experience even more fun on day three
Pink & Yellow Blossom - Anaheim, California
ISO 1100, f11, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 11:51 AM.
A Whale of A Mouth - Anaheim, California
ISO 2000, f11, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 12:01 PM.
Stages of Blossom - Anaheim, California
ISO 800, f10, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 12:16 PM.
Happy Girl & Tired Baby - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f3.5, 1/100, 11/11/14 at 3:59 PM.
Columbia Sunset - Anaheim, California
ISO 220, f7.1, 1/125, 11/11/14 at 4:34 PM.
Disney's California Adventure - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/40, 11/11/14 at 7:04 PM.
Paradise Pier - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/40, 11/11/14 at 7:25 PM.
Blue Water - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/100, 11/11/14 at 8:17 PM.
Laser Zurg - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/25, 11/11/14 at 8:24 PM.
Bright Fire - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f2.8, 1/250, 11/11/14 at 8:35 PM.
Fire Show - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f2.8, 1/2000, 11/11/14 at 8:36 PM.
Frightening Fire - Anaheim, California
ISO 100, f2.8 1/640, 11/11/14 at 8:36 PM.
Colorful Mickey Mouse - Anaheim, California
ISO 3200, f2.8, 1/80, 11/11/14 at 8:44 PM.