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  1. #916

    • Minion
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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    2-25-11
    Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” goes Ooh & Ahh over the different Fireworks viewing locations in Disneyland.

    With the next Mice Chat Photo Meet rapidly approaching and the discussion of photographing either the Fireworks or World of Color, I thought it would be a good time to go over some of the different locations in Disneyland for viewing and more importantly photographing the fireworks. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, not to mention challenges. Before we get into the juicy details, you have to be aware that you will be lucky to get 2 or 3 really good images from an entire fireworks presentation. Sometimes I get lucky and get 4 or 5 that I am happy with and sometimes I only get 1 or strikeout altogether. A very helpful trick is to go onto Youtube and watch a video of that particular fireworks show before you go. Pay attention to the music and watch the explosions. This way you can know ahead of time what bursts you want to capture and when they will appear.

    The first thing you need to understand about photographing the fireworks at Disneyland is that they only have a very small piece of sky in which to explode the shells. This means that the majority of the fireworks will be going off in the same exact spot and if you try to photograph several bursts in one exposure, you end up with a big ball of white blur. It also means that their smoke will fill the sky very quickly and cloud up the image.

    Here’s a look at the fireworks from several locations around the park with a brief discussion on how to get the best results.

    First we’ll start with the most popular and common location right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Aside from having to set up at least 2 hours before the show starts, the main difficulty here is that you are very close to the explosions making it easy to overexpose the shot. Being that close also means that the explosions seem small behind the big castle right in front of you. Another huge challenge that is hard to overcome is the bright lighting on the center of the castle. That spot is almost always overexposed in every shot. The key to success here is using a shutter speed between 2 and 5 seconds, sometimes less than 1 second. During the finale, several burst go off on the front of the castle necessitating a very fast shutter speed. Turning the exposure compensation down 1 full stop can also help, especially if shooting hand held or using a Point & Shoot camera.








    Here is a few from right across the street from the castle. You are a little further back, which gives you a slightly better chance not to overexpose the photo. The difficulty here is now you have people in front of you making it harder to use a tripod. I like to stand on the curb so I’m a little above the people right in front of me. As you can see by two big heads, it didn’t help that much. This also requires you to be there at least 2 hours before the show to get a good spot.




    Here’s a few from in front of the Partner’s Statue. For these I set the tripod up on the planter so I was above the entire crowd. The problem here is that they turn off all the lights on the plants and the statue making them nothing more than a bunch of dark shapes in the foreground. I set up early and took photos of this before the show started so I could merge it with the fireworks images later. This spot doesn’t fill up as fast as the front of the castle so getting there around an hour before is usually ok.




    Here is an example of what can happen if you are not fast enough to adjust your settings and take the shot. This is a 1 second exposure at F/9, ISO 100 and definitely not one of my finer moments.


    This is the view from near the entrance to Frontierland. I’m not too fond of this spot because the trees cover a big piece of the castle and sky blocking some of the view. (I took these a long time ago without the use of a tripod or cable release.)




    The same problem with the trees occurs across the plaza in front of the entrance to Tomorrowland. (These are also old photos and shot freehand.)




    Here’s what it looks like from the end of Main St. As you can see, the fireworks seem much larger from this far back making them more impressive. The problem again is all the lights on Main St. are turned off during the show making all the buildings dark blocks in the foreground. In my usual fashion, I took several shots before the show so I could layer them together in Photoshop.




    There are other fireworks viewing locations that Disneyland promotes such as in front of It’s a Small World. The nice thing here is that it isn’t very crowded and they project animation on the façade of the building during the show making the photos more interesting. Knowing that they launch the fireworks form a location behind Chip & Dale’s Treehouse in Toontown, I was able to pick a spot that put the fireworks in a good angle to the building.




    Another nice location for viewing the fireworks is from the upper level of the Innoventions building in Tomorrowland. From this far away, you can get longer shutter speeds. I had several successful exposures ranging between 5 seconds all the way to 25 seconds. The thing I don’t like about this location is that the Matterhorn and Tomorrowland do not change making every shot look the same.




    This is a composite of 8 images.


    One of my favorite locations for photographing the fireworks is from the Photo Spot sign on the Rivers of America. This is one of those locations that is not easy to pull off. It can only be done on a night when there is no Fantasmic and preferably when the Mark Twain is docked in Frontierland. Only once have I had the pleasure of photographing from here because it is such a rare scheduling occurrence for it to happen. Much to my disappointment, they turned off all the lights on the Mark Twain and dock when the show began. Luckily I had taken several exposures of the Mark Twain with the lights on before the show started so I could merge them together.




    There are a few other spots that I want to shoot the fireworks from such as the upper deck of Space Mountain and in front of Big Thunder Mountain. Hopefully I’ll be able to share those with you very soon.

    Update 4-10-11. Here is a shot from the dead space between Rancho Del Zocalo and Big Thunder Mountain. It is usually nothing more than a stroller wasteland but it is the perfect spot to view the fireworks.


    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011
    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Last edited by Hot Sauce 1; 04-10-2011 at 11:27 PM.
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  2. #917

    • Tom Bricker
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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Definitely some awesome locations, Michael. The one time I shot Magical, I got to the location 10 minutes (or so--maybe 15?) in advance, and no one was there because it was an obstructed view. I would have arrived earlier, but I had no idea all you locals camp out for hours on end to watch these shows (that's one thing I like about WDW not having a large AP base!).

    Here's one of the results:

    Disneyland's Summer Nightastic Fireworks - "Magical" (78 second exposure) by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment), on Flickr

    Prior to the show, I had taken an exposure with the lights on the Partners statue (I presumed they shut them off during the fireworks since they do at WDW), but since I was using a prime lens for Magical, and I had it poorly positioned once the bursts started going off, I adjusted during the show. Then, after the show, I wanted to wait to get a shot of Partners with the lights on again, but I didn't have the patience, and people were moving all around.

    In the end, I actually think I prefer the silhouetted version (maybe because that's what I ended up with ;-P) as it's not as busy. No knock against your similar shots whatsoever as I think the lit Partners statue does work well off-center from the Castle and fireworks, but I don't think it would work well lined up like I have it. And while I do think the lit bushes are beautiful in your shots, for me, they just don't fit the fireworks scene.

    I hope you don't take that the wrong way, as I have nothing but respect for you and your work, but for me composites only work when they represent something that looks natural to me eyes--something they could potentially see, whether or not that potentiality could ever be realized (that probably doesn't make any sense). I know there are plenty of my shots that probably resemble things the eyes couldn't see, so maybe that makes me a huge hypocrite, I don't know.

  3. #918

    • Minion
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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Quote Originally Posted by WDWFigment View Post
    Definitely some awesome locations, Michael. The one time I shot Magical, I got to the location 10 minutes (or so--maybe 15?) in advance, and no one was there because it was an obstructed view. I would have arrived earlier, but I had no idea all you locals camp out for hours on end to watch these shows (that's one thing I like about WDW not having a large AP base!).

    Here's one of the results:

    Disneyland's Summer Nightastic Fireworks - "Magical" (78 second exposure) by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment), on Flickr

    Prior to the show, I had taken an exposure with the lights on the Partners statue (I presumed they shut them off during the fireworks since they do at WDW), but since I was using a prime lens for Magical, and I had it poorly positioned once the bursts started going off, I adjusted during the show. Then, after the show, I wanted to wait to get a shot of Partners with the lights on again, but I didn't have the patience, and people were moving all around.

    In the end, I actually think I prefer the silhouetted version (maybe because that's what I ended up with ;-P) as it's not as busy. No knock against your similar shots whatsoever as I think the lit Partners statue does work well off-center from the Castle and fireworks, but I don't think it would work well lined up like I have it. And while I do think the lit bushes are beautiful in your shots, for me, they just don't fit the fireworks scene.

    I hope you don't take that the wrong way, as I have nothing but respect for you and your work, but for me composites only work when they represent something that looks natural to me eyes--something they could potentially see, whether or not that potentiality could ever be realized (that probably doesn't make any sense). I know there are plenty of my shots that probably resemble things the eyes couldn't see, so maybe that makes me a huge hypocrite, I don't know.
    I've been in love with and in awe of this shot since I saw it a long time ago. I love your silhouetted statue as well. That long of an exposure gave it just enough light to give it shape and show some detail. What I find the most impressive is not just the 78 second exposure but the exact 78 seconds you exposed it for. Believe me, this shot really is one in a million of timing and execution. Then again, I would expect no less from someone who is without question one of the top 1% of Disney photographers.
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  4. #919

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Here's the "pretty" shot for the day.
    Taken from the little dining patio just north of the Mark Twain / Columbia loading dock.
    F/4, 1/25th, ISO 3200
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  5. #920

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Sauce 1 View Post
    Love this.

    Haven't been around in a bit due to big distractions. The past few pages were excellent as usual. Thanks for the great werk Hot Sauce.

  6. #921

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Quote Originally Posted by ivankay View Post
    Love this.

    Haven't been around in a bit due to big distractions. The past few pages were excellent as usual. Thanks for the great werk Hot Sauce.
    Well, it's nice to have you back.
    BTW, there is another Mice Chat Photo Meet happening at Disneyland this Sunday. We'd love to see you there. There is a thread for it in the Meets & Events section.
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  7. #922

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    2-28-11
    Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” is one I will call Anticipate the Magic Moment.

    I was in DCA a few weeks ago taking pictures of the roller coaster above Toy Story Mania. As I was waiting for another one to come by, my wife spun me around and pointed out a Green Army Man walking towards us. Right beside him was a little toddler doing his best to keep up with him. Knowing that whenever you have a character walking around and a toddler near by, sooner or later there will be some kind of Magic Moment when the two of them com face to face. I kept shooting, waiting for that special shot.

    The Army Man knew the child was trying to walk with him and held out his pinky finger for the boy to hold onto. The toddler was still at the age where he had to walk fast to keep from falling forward and was too young to really be aware of everything going on but that is what makes it so cute. These photos are in the order that I took them as the magic unfolded. I haven’t done any post processing to them other than a minor crop.








    It took about 1 minute of watching and waiting but it was well worth it to get this shot. I did add a slight Gaussian Blur to it so the people in the background weren’t in the same focus as the boy and Army Man.


    So the next time you see the possibility for that too cute for words photo, anticipate what can happen, follow your target and keep shooting until it happens.
    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011
    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  8. #923

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    In lieu of a post today, here's the plain old photos. Hope you like them. And yes, there's a reason for these Black & Whites today. They are in preparation for a post about Black & White processing as requested by niklj. (most likely on Friday)



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  9. #924

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    3-2-11
    Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” is going to focus on equipment and go over the Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Your Camera.

    Let’s face it, does anyone actually read the manual that comes with the camera and if you did read it, did you understand half of it? I read it, didn’t understand most of it and then bought the big book on how to use my new camera. At least it was written in a way that I could make sense of most of it. Even though I know what all the things on my camera do, it doesn’t mean I know how to apply all that knowledge to taking better pictures.

    However, in my experience taking pictures at Disneyland I have discovered what settings and features on the camera are necessary for achieving better results.

    I wanted to go over each of these in greater detail but with the Photo Meet coming up this weekend, I thought it might be helpful to do it now. Some of these will be pretty abbreviated but I will go over them again some time in the future.

    1. Learn how to Turn off your Flash!!! I can’t think of anything more annoying than being on a dark ride and some idiot keeps taking pictures with the flash on. Not only is it extremely rude to everyone else on the ride, it completely negates the specialty lighting the imaginers wanted you to see it with. On most cameras, especially Point & Shoots, the flash only illuminates up to 10 feet. If you’ve ever watched a sporting event and seen all the camera flashes going off in the stands, the only thing they photographed was the back of the person in front of them. The flash made the shutter speed so fast that anything out of that 10 foot range is completely dark.

    2. Understand your Zoom. This one is mostly for Point & Shoots but unless you are using a prime zoom lens for a DSLR, the same holds true. The more you zoom in on something, the smaller your aperture will become. That means that the shutter speed with either be slower or the ISO will be higher to keep the same speed. A slower shutter speed gives more opportunity for blurry photos and a higher ISO means more noise in the photo. During a bright sunny day, this doesn’t make much difference but in lower light situations, it really comes into play. In those instances it might be better not to zoom in on something, get a sharper picture and crop it to be what you want. Newer cameras are better at handling higher ISO, so learn your cameras limits.

    3. Learn how to adjust your White Balance. In most areas of Disneyland, setting your camera on Auto White Balance is fine but there are a few locations and instances where setting it to Tungsten (color temp = 3300) can make a big difference. Even though most people (including myself) that have DSLR’s shoot in RAW and can adjust it in the computer, if you have a Point & Shoot or shoot in jpeg, it must be adjusted in camera. For most Point & Shoot cameras, White Balance can only be adjusted in Manual Mode.

    Here are a few examples of where White Balance is important. In restaurants such as Plaza Inn, The Golden Horseshoe and Storytellers Café, the lighting has a pink/yellow hue to it and can completely ruin a photo. The biggest disappointment is when people pay a lot of money for a Character Breakfast and all the photos make the people look ill.
    Here is a photo I took at the Minnie & Friends Character Breakfast in the Plaza Inn. This is with the White Balance set to Auto. Notice how yellow the subjects look, almost like they have the plague.


    Here is the same shot set to Tungsten. The light and skin tone appear more natural with the cooler color temperature.


    The lights on the buildings on Main St. also have a similar color temperature. When photographing Main St. at night, understanding White Balance can be very helpful. This is with the White Balance on Auto.


    This is with the White Balance set to Tungsten. You can see how the colors look whiter and like your eye sees them.


    Here is where shooting in RAW comes in handy because lowering the color temperature even lower, down to 2900 makes it look even better.


    One other really great time to set the White Balance to Tungsten is when taking night shots when we have one of those really ugly muddy brown overcast skies. It will make the sky look like it does on a clear night.

    4. Exposure Compensation. When using a DSLR, you might have people ask you what you shoot. That question means “What Mode do you shoot in?” Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Auto, etc….
    There are those who think that a “Real Photographer” only shoots in full Manual Mode. I disagree. Whatever mode works for you and you take good pictures in is all that matters.

    The majority of DSLR owners (including myself) shoot in Aperture Priority. However, I also use it in conjunction with Exposure Compensation. It wasn’t until just recently that I understood what that means and I’m still just scratching the surface of it but here are some examples of where it makes sense.

    I took this picture of a tulip and I intentionally wanted a large aperture so the background would be blurry.


    Knowing that I might convert the photo to Black and White, and understanding that bright sunlight on light colors completely overexposes in black and white, I need to adjust the Exposure Compensation down a bit to make it work. Here it is in Black & White at normal exposure.


    Here is the photo in color with the Exposure Compensation down 1 full stop. It doesn’t look very good.


    However, here it is in Black & White and it works much better.


    When using a large aperture, especially in bright daylight, it is almost imperative to use the Exposure Compensation to control the bright spots. It also comes in very handy when shooting things like the World of Color show because you need a large aperture for faster shutter speed but the highlights will be blown out. By adjusting the exposure compensation, you can get a faster shutter as well as better color and light control

    For Point & Shoots, I did a post about exposure compensation. You can check that one out here: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    5. Night Snapshot. The Night Snapshot function is very important when photographing people at night with something in the background such as the castle. When using Night Snapshot, the flash will go off to illuminate the people, but the shutter will remain open for a second longer to allow the background to show up. The important thing to remember when using Night Snapshot is that you need to hold the camera very still even after the flash goes off and the people in the shot need to stay still too. Using a Tripod is almost a necessity for this feature. I don’t have any photos for this part but I will soon.

    There are 5other features that are also important such as Exposure Bracketing, Macro/Infinity, Continuous Shooting/Burst Mode, ISO, Evaluative - Spot - Center Weighted Average Metering Modes but it is 4:00 am and I can’t think anymore. I’ll go over those another time.

    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011
    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Last edited by Hot Sauce 1; 03-02-2011 at 04:24 AM.
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  10. #925

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    3-4-11
    Today's "Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day" continues the previous discusson on the 10 Things You Need to Know About Your Camera.

    I wanted to go over the next 5 of the things to know in time for the Photo Meet on Sunday but it appears that my business has other plans for me and has been keeping me to busy to get them all done.
    However, I have done posts on two of them before so I thought a quick refresher might do the trick.
    Here is the link to the post on using Continuous Shooting Mode or Burst Mode depending upon which make of camera you have. The Disneyland Photo of the Day... This is a very handy function on the camera and will definitely help you get more and better photos.

    Here is the link to the post on Metering Modes. The Disneyland Photo of the Day... This will come in handy if we go to see the Aladdin Show because it is the perfect time to use Spot or Partial Spot Metering. If you think about it, stage shows like Aladdin or any other use "Spot Lights" to focus your attention on the actors, so it only makes sense to use Spot Metering to keep the bright spots from being blown out and the dark areas dark.

    I'll have to cover the rest of them another time.

    I'm looking forward to seeing lots of you on Sunday for the Photo Meet.

    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011

    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  11. #926

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    3-8-11
    Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” is a quick Photoshop Elements tip for Enhancing Specific Colors in a photograph.

    The photo I’ll be using as an example is one I took about a month ago on one of our usual Southern California gray and overcast days. I was on Tom Sawyer Island looking down the Rivers of America and noticed a little bit of fall colors on a few of the trees. Since we don’t get to see the trees change with the seasons here, I thought I would do my best to capture it in pixels.

    Here is the original photo that we will work with. Notice the red and yellow leaves on some of the trees. Also notice that without bright blue sky and sunlight, they are pretty dull and barely show up.


    First, open it in Photoshop Elements.


    Then at the top of the screen, click on Enhance – Adjust Color – Adjust Hue/Saturation.


    That will bring up this little box. Under the Master tab, you can select certain colors and whatever adjustments you make will only affect those colors. Click on Reds.


    I adjusted the Red Saturation up +40 and lightened the reds +5.


    Then go back up into the Master dropdown and select Yellows.


    I increased the Yellow Saturation up +60 and lightened it up +3.


    That gives us this result.


    This method of saturating specific colors is also really, really handy in editing photos of Fireworks. I am also going to show another function that you may or may not want to apply. Personally I like the photo as it is now, but the Warming Filter is a handy tool that does give it a more natural Fall like appearance. Go to Filter – Adjustments – Photo Filter.


    That brings up this box that is typically set to the most common Warming Filter.


    If you click on its drop down menu, there are several choices for different filter effects you can apply to it.


    I chose this one and set its Density to 35%.


    Doing so applies a yellowish orange tint to the photo giving it a warmer feel like you would have closer to sunset or during the fall. The Warming Filter also works well on virtually any outdoor photo that you want to appear like it was taken in late afternoon.


    Like I said, my personal preference on this particular photo is without the warming filter but it is something that you should know how to use.

    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011
    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Life is far too short for bland food!


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  12. #927

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    3-10-11
    Today’s “Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day” takes a look at Field of View.

    I haven’t really spent much time talking about camera equipment, simply because everybody’s cameras are different and I only know about my particular brand of camera being Canon. However, one thing remains the same regardless of what type of camera you have and that is what you see through the lens. How much you see through the lens is referred to as the Field of View.

    I recently acquired the new Sigma 8-16mm Wide Angle Lens and was eager to see how much of a scene I have been missing by only using my standard 18-55mm Kit Lens.

    Before I show the pictures showing the field of view from different focal lengths, I should spend a little time talking about the sensor size of cameras and how it affects the field of view. The majority of DSLR cameras and Point & Shoot camera have what is called a Crop Sensor, (including mine). Only the very high end of DSLR’s have a Full Frame Sensor and to be perfectly frank, if you have a camera with a Full Frame Sensor such as the Canon 5D Mark II which retails for $2500.00 Body Only, you already understand all this and don’t need to be reading this column.

    The Crop Factor basically equates to 1 X 1.6. This means that if my lens says it is 8mm, it is actually seeing it at 12.8mm. This can be a big advantage when looking at Telephoto or Zoom Lenses because you will be getting more bang for your buck when you figure that a 300mm zoom lens, on a crop sensor camera is actually putting you at 480mm. There is a lot more to this than I have gone over here, so if you are curious to learn more you can read it for yourself at Wikipedia via this link. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

    To properly show you how the Field of View appears with different lenses, I needed a subject somewhat far away. I set myself up on the boardwalk of Paradise Park facing Mickey’s Fun Wheel. I started with the 8-16mm lens and set my center focus point on the center of Mickey’s face on the fun wheel. This way I can change lenses and focal lengths and keep the center of view the same. I set the Aperture at F/11 and ISO at 400 so those would remain constant in every photo.

    So here we go. This is at 8mm (actually 12.8)


    This is at 11mm, which is also a common length for many wide angle lenses.


    Here we are at 16mm which is the shortest distance for the Sigma 8-16mm lens.


    From there I put on the 18-55mm kit lens. This is at its widest field of view being 18mm.


    Here we are at 32mm.


    Now at the strongest zoom the kit lens will allow which is the 55mm.


    At this point, I put on my 55-250mm telephoto lens. I zoomed in a bit to 109mm.


    Then to 194mm.


    This is what we end up with at 250mm, (actually closer to 400mm)


    I hope this little peek into Field of View has been somewhat informative.

    Happy Snapping
    © Michael Greening 2011
    For a complete directory and direct links to all of these posts, please click here: http://micechat.com/forums/disneyland-resort/140579-disneyland-photo-day-50.html#post1056358940
    Life is far too short for bland food!


    Flickr page: www.flickr.com/ringoffirehotsauce
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    Personal website: www.mikeanddianes.com

  13. #928

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Wow- I love that you put up all those shots from the same place. Usually I see only a couple of shots, and sometimes things have changed between times so it's hard to compare. Your series here makes it easy to see! Thank you.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

  14. #929

    • MiceChat Moderator
    • ♠ Pirate Wizard ♠
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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Sauce 1 View Post

    If you have a camera with a Full Frame Sensor such as the Canon 5D Mark II which retails for $2500.00 Body Only, you already understand all this and don’t need to be reading this column.
    Oh I'll still read it. I'll always geek out over the fundamentals.

  15. #930

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    Re: The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    In leiu of a column today, here are some more shots using the new 8-16mm wide angle lens.


    Life is far too short for bland food!


    Flickr page: www.flickr.com/ringoffirehotsauce
    You Tube: www.youtube.com/ringoffireguy
    Facebook: http://profile.to/michaelgreening/
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    Personal website: www.mikeanddianes.com


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