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  1. #1

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    Dark ride photography?

    Hi everyone, this question has probably been asked many times already but I thought I would give some background on my situation.
    I go to both Disneyland and DCA regularly and own a Canon EOS REBEL t1i with an 18-55mm lens. I am learning more about photography and want to take good dark ride pictures. I've tried on Ariel's Undersea Adventure a couple times with a higher shutter speed and continuous shooting in Tv mode so it doesn't get motion blur, but the shots turned out very dark and the colors didn't come out.
    Any help would be appreciated, thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    It is a ginormous thread, but go here and you will find answers to just about every Disney picture taking situation ever...

    The Disneyland Photo of the Day...

    “That's the way a lot of things happen... You think one person did something
    but he was just the one to put the color on it." – Ken Anderson
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  3. #3

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    If you have it in Tv mode and the camera can't produce a properly exposed picture because it's too dark, when you look through the eyepiece, the aperature will blink on and off. To account for it, you'll need to either bump up your ISO or keep the shutter open longer. Go ahead and bump that ISO up to 3200, or even go into your settings and expand it to 6400 or 12800. The photos will look noisy, but it sure beats blurry.

    How long are you keeping the shutter open by the way?

  4. #4

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Ah, this question does come up quite frequently but I'll be more than glad to help you out! Here's a quick rundown:

    The first thing I would suggest is to definitely understand how exposure works. There are three main ways to control exposure and they are shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Shutter speed controls how fast the mirror flips to let light into your camera (fast shutter speed will let less light in compared to a slower speed), aperture controls how wide the hole is opened inside your lens (a bigger hole will let more light through the camera versus a smaller hole), and ISO controls the light sensitivity of your camera sensor (a higher ISO will be more sensitive to light than a lower ISO).

    The trick is to balance your exposure. Let's say you're taking a picture of a subject and your exposure is perfectly balanced. Now, if one of your settings changes, your exposure will not be balanced anymore. You need to change another setting to compensate that change to be perfectly balanced again. For example, let's say in a certain setting, your camera is balanced at 1/60s, f/3.5, and ISO 200. If you change your shutter speed to 1/50s, your photo will now be slightly overexposed. To compensate, you need to either make your aperture smaller by increasing it to f/4 OR you can make your camera less sensitive to light by changing your ISO to ISO 100. It's all about balance. To take photos at low light settings, you need to lower your shutter speed, increase the aperture, and bump up the sensitivity of your camera.

    When you take dark ride photos, I highly suggest shooting in manual mode so you will be able to have full control of your exposure. Tv is a semi-manual mode called shutter priority, meaning you control the shutter speed of your camera while your camera controls the aperture and ISO. What's happening is when you set your speed, your camera is trying to balance the exposure for that shutter speed. Unfortunately, with the lens you are using (I'm assuming it's the kit lens since you said you're using the 18-55mm lens, which has a max aperture of f/3.5-5.6), a very fast shutter speed will not be able to capture dark ride photos since your aperture can only go to MAX f/3.5 at 18mm.

    What you need to do is to invest in a faster lens, meaning you need a lens that will allow you to shoot at smaller aperture numbers because a smaller aperture number means a bigger hole (I know, it's kind of confusing). For example, f/1.8 has a much bigger opening than f/3.5. I would suggest in investing in a prime lens with a wide aperture like a 35mm f/1.8 OR 50mm f/1.8. They're very cheap, affordable lens and they're great! Having those extra aperture settings really help and allow you to shoot at pretty decent speeds. There's also a bit of trial and error involved to find that right setting too.

    I hope that helped! Like you, I also once was new to photography and wanted to learn. I actually self taught myself how and I am more than glad to share my knowledge. If there's anything you're not clear on, let me know and I'll try my best to explain!
    Last edited by KiMcHeEfOrLiFe; 08-22-2013 at 05:53 PM.

  5. #5

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    I'll try to save you some time. The most critical thing is the lens. Your 18-55 kit lens is an f/3.5-5.6 (the lower this number the better it is in low light). For really good low light performance, you need a lens in f/1.8 territory, which can get really expensive.

    There is one affordable f/1.8 lens that most Canon owners get though, the 50mm f/1.8 II. It's around $100 which is fantastic considering how well it performs (we call it the "nifty fifty"). The only issue for newbie photographers is that it's a prime lens, meaning fixed length... no zooming. But... this lens takes such sharp photos, you can likely crop to your heart's content. And it's really good in low light.

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Here's a quick example of what a prime 50mm f/1.8 lens can do.

    I shot this at 1/40s, f/1.8, and ISO 500 with +5 exposure compensation.



    As you can see even at f/1.8, I was only able to shoot at 1/40s. It's not very fast, but it was fast enough to capture that image (Although, I may have not been moving when I took that photo).

    What I used to do when I was learning how to use my camera was I used to go all over flickr and look at a photo's exif data to learn how the photographer shot that image. It's very helpful!
    Last edited by KiMcHeEfOrLiFe; 08-22-2013 at 06:12 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Something to keep in mind with a 50mm and your t1i, is with a crop sensor, that 50mm will look more like an 80mm to your camera and may put your pictures too zoomed in for your liking. If you're cool with close ups and that's your goal, then it's the way to go.
    Just sayin'

  8. #8

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by MSCguy View Post
    Something to keep in mind with a 50mm and your t1i, is with a crop sensor, that 50mm will look more like an 80mm to your camera and may put your pictures too zoomed in for your liking. If you're cool with close ups and that's your goal, then it's the way to go.
    MSCguy has a very good point. I completely forgot to mention the downside of using a 50mm. It is pretty difficult to use a 50mm in close environments because it's so zoomed in, especially on a crop sensor. If you're going to buy a 50mm, set your 18-55mm lens at 50mm and shoot around for a day without zooming in or out and see if you think you can manage shooting at 50mm. If not, you might want to think about getting the 35mm prime lens instead.

  9. #9

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    The trouble with dark rides is you are moving, so even with fast glass, and moderate ISO, you run the risk of a blurry pic because of movement. To get no blur, you need a fast shutter, and probably cranked ISO as a result. I was shooting 1.4 and 2.8 glass my last time there, and to get a decent shutter speed, I had the ISO cranked pretty high, and that's with a full-frame body with the best ratio of ISO to low-noise on the market.

    My POTC pics all had noise, but some of the MI pics turned out pretty good even after a crop.

    Here's some examples, and the EXIF can be viewed on them for comparison.








  10. #10

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    I'll bet with your kit lens, shooting in av mode with biggest aperture, with iso auto (camera will pick 3200 or 6400) and you'll be quite happy in little mermaid ride. You're out of luck for getting pics of flotsam and jetsam and ursela may be too dark too but from what I remember, most other scenes will be fine. May be slightly noisy (grainy) but perfectly fine for your purposes.

    Peter Pan, haunted mansion and most other older dark rides are a whole different ball of wax.

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by MSCguy View Post
    You're out of luck for getting pics of flotsam and jetsam
    This was the best I got, and I was disappointed with it.... Really needed a longer shutter and corresponding lower ISO, but moving is a challenge for me...

    f/1.4 1/80th ISO-25.6k


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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    I'll try bumping up the ISO. I was keeping the shutter open at 1/4000 which is the max I could get.
    I recently got a new 50mm f/1.8 ll lens, so do you have any advice for shooting with that lens?

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yassi1 View Post
    I'll try bumping up the ISO. I was keeping the shutter open at 1/4000 which is the max I could get.
    I recently got a new 50mm f/1.8 ll lens, so do you have any advice for shooting with that lens?
    1/4000 would be pitch black on any dark ride no matter the ISO. Which mode are you shooting in? Why not try full manual, pick a shutter speed you are comfortable with based upon the movement of the ride you are on, crank the fstop down to maximum aperture, and then play with the ISO until you get an exposure you like?

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yassi1 View Post
    I'll try bumping up the ISO. I was keeping the shutter open at 1/4000 which is the max I could get.
    I recently got a new 50mm f/1.8 ll lens, so do you have any advice for shooting with that lens?
    Depends on the dark ride. With the Nifty Fifty lens, try f5.0 at 1/30th of a second with ISO 1600. That is a good starting point. If the ride is brighter lit - try f8.0 and if the ride moves too fast move to 1/60th of a second. Still too dark after that - increase the ISO to 3200 as well. Possibly to 6400 if you feel brave.

    Manual mode can be your friend...







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  15. #15

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    Re: Dark ride photography?

    Thank you for your help! I recently got the lens after doing a bit of research.

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