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The Disneyland Photo of the Day...
Welcome to the first official posting of the Disneyland Photo Tip of the Day.
Each day, I will post a new photograph taken somewhere at the Disneyland Resort. It might be from Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Downtown Disney or one of the resort hotels.
With each post, I will also give a little information as to where the photo was taken, what the camera settings were and what type of post processing was done to it. Some of them will be relatively simple and some will be a bit more advanced, such as long exposure HDR or other photo editing techniques in Photoshop.
In no way am I trying to imply that I am an expert or that you should do what I do. I am still a beginner myself and have an awful lot to learn. Taking pictures is a very personal experience and everyone has their own unique style and tastes. This is only what I see and do. Some may completely disagree with my camera settings or my post processing techniques and they very well might be right. This is just my point of view or "point of shoot" as the case may be.
For the first Disneyland Photo of the Day, we will start with something simple and iconic. I couldn’t decide whether to use a photo of the Castle, Partners Statue or the entrance to Disneyland. I finally decided to “focus” (pun intended) on the fact that “It was all started by a Mouse”. Since this was a blog about photography, why not start with Photographing Mickey Mouse.
I took this picture about a month ago at DCA. It was mid afternoon on a hot day and my wife and I were enjoying some appetizers at the Cove Bar at Ariel’s Grotto. There was a lovely breeze coming across Paradise Bay and it was a welcome relief to be out of the sun and have a cold drink, fish tacos and some lobster nachos. We could see the World of Color Gazebo photo spot set up, but there was nobody using it. The Photopass Photographers were there but not one person was having their picture taken. (Hint: This usually means a character will be showing up soon.)
About 15 minutes later, Mickey Mouse showed up and before he could even set foot in the gazebo, the line was 30 people deep. We were just finishing up, so I figured I would run over and try to get a photo. I am not the type of person to stand in line to take a picture of a character, mostly because I am not taking my picture with them and people get irritated if they are in line behind me and I am just taking a bunch of pictures of the character by themselves.
The best place to take this type of picture is to the side of wherever people are leaving after having their picture taken. You are pretty much out of every ones way and you can get great shots of the characters between guests. I got on my knees on the far right side of the exit ramp and placed my camera on the railing. I like to take pictures of the characters from a lower vantage point because by looking up at them, you can eliminate a lot of stuff that might be in the background and it gives a more impressive view of them by making them appear larger. They are also usually looking down at children, so by being lower, you get a better view of their face.
I was snapping away between guests and Mickey noticed me zooming in and out, looked right at me and mimicked me playing with the camera, as if he was taking my picture. You have to be pretty quick on the shutter to capture those moments because they happen so fast and only last a second, but they do make for fun pictures.
Camera: Canon EOS Rebel T1i with standard 18-55mm kit lens.
Aperture Priority AE
ISO – Auto = 100
Shutter Speed 1/320
Picture Style is a custom one that I like to use. It is based on the Standard style but the Saturation is +2 and the Sharpness is set at 5.
Here is a look at the original untouched photo so we can discuss what type of post processing I did.
As you can see, the gazebo puts Mickey in the shade. I only had the built in flash on the camera and I knew that if I used it, it the photo would be washed out, flat and over exposed. It was better to not use the flash and brighten up the picture in the computer. You can also see that there is an ugly crane in the background and that the sky was so bright, it lacked color.
I shoot all my pictures in RAW format so the first thing I did was convert it to a jpeg and opened it up in PhotoScape. This is a free photo editing program that is my favorite one to use for simple tasks because it is so easy to use and does an amazing job. I also do some work in Photoshop, Photomatix, Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw which will be discussed in later posts.
Once opened in Photoscape, I decided to eliminate the crane first. I could have easily used the spot removal tool in Photoshop and removed it but I didn’t need that much area around Mickey. Since Mickey Mouse was the sole focus of the shot, I decided to crop out most of the picture and keep just his upper body. I clicked on the Crop tab and in the dropdown menu clicked on Crop by Original Photo Ratio.
I kept just enough of his ears so you instantly knew it was Mickey Mouse. It also looks strange if you cut off a person’s arms or legs at a joint, so I cut him just below the wrist on one arm and kept all of the other arm.
Next I went to the Bright,Color tab, clicked the dropdown menu and went to Brighten and clicked on Middle.
This brightened him up perfectly but also took a little too much color from his face. Next I clicked on the Auto Level dropdown menu and clicked on Medium. The only thing this did was return a small amount of color t his face and voila, I was happy with the finished photo.
After that, just click on Save - Save As - call it what you want, make sure you set it as a jpeg and you're done.
Thanks for reading and please make sure to check back tomorrow for the next installment of Disneyland Photo of the Day!
© Michael Greening 2010