Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” is going to shed some light on Light. I’m not going to discuss how lighting affects your photos or how lighting works (at least not yet), this post is about making “Light” the subject of the photo.
One of my favorite things to photograph at Disneyland, (one of my thousand favorite things) is lights. There are the lights on the buildings on Main St., as well as virtually every surface of every building in Disneyland. But the ones that offer wonderful possibilities for creativity and color are the carts of all the glowing trinkets that they sell at night in their final attempt to grab that last possible dollar from you before you leave.
However, photographing these carts does have a few challenges. It is kind of difficult to set up a tripod near them and take pictures and that limits you to how much freedom of movement you have in taking the picture. I end up playing a balancing game between how steady I can keep the camera, what shutter speed to use, how high to have my ISO and what size aperture to use.
I generally begin by looking at the cart and then determining what angle I want to photograph it from so whatever is in the background compliments the photo. Then I choose an aperture that will give me the depth of field I want from that background. Usually I’m choosing the largest aperture my lens will allow. In the case of my Kit Lens, that is f/3.5. If I zoom in on the lights, it will decrease my aperture a little bit but that’s fine. Then I will put my ISO on Auto and take 2 or 3 sample photos to see how long the shutter is staying open and if the shutter is too slow, making the photo blurry. From there, I’ll gauge if I have to increase the ISO or if I need to find a way to get more light into the lens. I don’t really like increasing my ISO, so if I need more light in order to get a faster shutter speed, I can get closer to the lights or zoom in on them a bit so they take up more of the frame. This will usually solve the problem.
Here are some examples of those carts and a brief explanation as to why I took the photo.
I saw this cart as I was leaving the park and picked an angle that kept the lights on City Hall in the background. Aperture = F/5.6, ISO = 1600, Speed = 1/10.
(I tried some that had a shutter speed of 1/8, but it was too slow for me by hand, so it was blurry. By zooming in just a little bit, the shot was brighter, giving me a shutter speed of 1/10, which I could pull off by hand.)
I also did it with a slightly different angle and must have had a pretty steady hand because my ISO was only 400 and it was a 1/2 second exposure.
When I saw this cart, what struck me the most was how the light was giving such a soft glow to the cast members face. The camera didn’t quite catch the light on his face as well as I wanted so I used the selection tool in Photoshop Elements, selected his face and lightened that up just a little bit.
I shot this one on a rainy night in January and loved the way the lights were reflecting on the wet street and on the sides of the cart. It just seemed so romantic to me and whenever I see it, it stirs fond memories of a wonderful evening.
So the next time you are in the park at night, take a moment or two to look at these Glow Carts and see how they light up your imagination.
© Michael Greening 2010