Photographing Walt Disney World: How to Bring the Magic a Little Closer to Home

One of our Mouze Kateerz writers, Amanda Major (www.cheapskateprincess.com), is one of the best Disney photographers that I’ve seen. She captures Disney Magic with every picture. She is one of the largest picture contributors to Mouze Kateerz. Here is an article that she wrote several months ago that I thought was worth rerunning for more readers to enjoy. ~ Frances

By Amanda M.

Every photo has a story.

One reason I am so enamored with Walt Disney World is the wide range of photographic opportunities I find when I vacation there. Photography can be both a tremendously rewarding experience and a maker of memories, but on the other side, it can be a journey into frustration and disappointment. Images don’t always turn out in print like you see them through your eyes.  Sometimes, I look at my photos and think, “Ugh!! It didn’t look like that!”  What to do…

Picture this…As photography has moved away from print film to digital, we now have the opportunity to clean up and fix a lot of images that would look better with a little nip and tuck. One of my most useful photo editing tools, Picasa in my case,  is the crop button. Simple. Handy. Crop.

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL,  dropped a photo off on our wall at Mouze Kateerz on Facebook, and it was so beautiful, I had to see if there was an original.  Apparently Randy didn’t need to crop his photo a for a closer view- he just zoomed up on his subject. In keeping with my theme of every photo has a story,  there was indeed a great Disney tale attached with his photo…romance, relaxation, and vivid colors.  Here’s Randy’s photographical memory:

disney photography, The Disney Moms, Tree of Life photo, Animal Kingdom photosThis past May, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our first trip back to WDW since our honeymoon … without the kids. We decided during the planning for the trip that we would set no schedule, eat when we wanted to…not just when we could spare a moment between attractions. We took the time to look for the details that we so often rushed past in search of a character signing or fast pass.

Every trip for us to WDW includes a morning at Animal Kingdom. First destination… The Tree of Life to see A Bug’s Life. As we worked our way towards the tree, we stopped to take this pic with the tree in the background.

The vivid color of the simple pink flower struck me so I decided to take a close up. “

Animal Kingdom, It's a Bugs life, Disney Photography, The Disney Moms, Animal Kingdom safari
“This close up has become one of my favorites from this trip. It is a good reminder to me to slow down and look for the detail, it is all part of the Magic!

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL

The personal thing about photography is that sometimes a photo will have no meaning or emotional attachment to anyone other than the photographer. The picture belongs to you; the special meaning is all your own. But this doesn’t diminish the beauty you can find in photographs, even if you really have no idea where the photo was taken.

Bonnet Creet Resort, Windham Bonnet Creek Resort, Hollywood Studios, Bonnet Creek photosHere is a photo I took in 2011 at Windham Bonnet Creek Resort on the other side of the highway from Disney‘s Hollywood Studios.Our first stay here was fabulous, and included hot dogs for Christmas Eve dinner (a new annual tradition) and a swim in the heated lazy river on Christmas Day.

I took several shots of a sunset as the clouds were rolling in on Dec. 26th, the day before we returned home. Most people will not recognize this as Bonnet Creek.

There are no Disney characters in the shot, no iconic Disney architecture or logos, so you won’t recognize the location, but you are drawn in all the same.

photography, Picasa photo editing, Picasa photography, Disney Picasa, photo cropping, Disney photography, The beautiful thing about this photo is that I didn’t do a thing to change the color. I just cut out the distracting clouds and focused on the closer beauty of an Orlando sunset. I then fought off depression by telling myself in that every sunset does notlook like this when you are three miles from the Magic Kingdom. I remain unconvinced; I somehow suspect actually they do.

So if you can’t zoom, then crop. A little nip here, and a little tuck there can take a good photo and bring it a little closer to home, both to your eye, and to your heart.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you around the Disney parks with a camera!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

Related articles

Photographing Walt Disney World: How to Bring the Magic a Little Closer to Home

Space mountain, space mountain sign, Space mountain photo, Tomorrowland, Picasa photo editing, disney photography

Every photo has a story.

One reason I am so enamored with Walt Disney World is the wide range of photographic opportunities I find when I vacation there. Photography can be both a tremendously rewarding experience and a maker of memories, but on the other side, it can be a journey into frustration and disappointment. Images don’t always turn out in print like you see them through your eyes.  Sometimes, I look at my photos and think, “Ugh!! It didn’t look like that!”  What to do…

Picture this…As photography has moved away from print film to digital, we now have the opportunity to clean up and fix a lot of images that would look better with a little nip and tuck. One of my most useful photo editing tools, Picasa in my case,  is the crop button. Simple. Handy. Crop.

One of our newest Mouze Kateerz Staff Members is Hiromi Okuyama. Hiromi is the “Canadian Diva” of Tips from the Disney Diva and the wife-portion of a team called “Hiromer,” where the husband takes photos with his latest Nikon Camera at Disney World, and she writes about their experiences. Now I personally think this arrangement is fascinating, because my husband doesn’t take any photos at all, and heaven knows what my photos would look like if he photo-edited them! But with “Hiromer,” the photograpohic results are stunning.  When I went looking for examples of cropped photos, Hiromi provided two shots of one of my ideal summer vacation haunts, Downtown Disney. Hiromi described their photos:

Downtown Disney, Downtown Disney sign, Downtown Disney shopping, world of Disney, Goofy Candy Co. This is one of our personal favorite photos taken of the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

You may not notice the crop at first: however, if you compare the two, you will see that in the smaller photo, the Downtown Disney sign, as well as the tree, is a bit off-center.

In the larger photo, we cropped a bit of the sky and the foreground as well as shaving a bit off the side, so that the Downtown Disney Marketplace sign and the beautiful tree takes center stage.

It’s magical how a little cropping can change a whole outlook on a subject and feature it better.”

photo downtown Disney, Downtown Disney entrance, Disney World Disney Vacation, The Disney Moms

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL,  dropped a photo off on our wall at Mouze Kateerz on Facebook, and it was so beautiful, I had to see if there was an original.  Apparently Randy didn’t need to crop his photo a for a closer view- he just zoomed up on his subject. In keeping with my theme of every photo has a story,  there was indeed a great Disney tale attached with his photo…romance, relaxation, and vivid colors.  Here’s Randy’s photographical memory:

disney photography, The Disney Moms, Tree of Life photo, Animal Kingdom photosThis past May, my wife and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with our first trip back to WDW since our honeymoon … without the kids. We decided during the planning for the trip that we would set no schedule, eat when we wanted to…not just when we could spare a moment between attractions. We took the time to look for the details that we so often rushed past in search of a character signing or fast pass.

Every trip for us to WDW includes a morning at Animal Kingdom. First destination… The Tree of Life to see A Bug’s Life. As we worked our way towards the tree, we stopped to take this pic with the tree in the background.

The vivid color of the simple pink flower struck me so I decided to take a close up. “

Animal Kingdom, It's a Bugs life, Disney Photography, The Disney Moms, Animal Kingdom safari
“This close up has become one of my favorites from this trip. It is a good reminder to me to slow down and look for the detail, it is all part of the Magic!

Mouze Kateerz fan Randy Ash from Bloomington, IL

The personal thing about photography is that sometimes a photo will have no meaning or emotional attachment to anyone other than the photographer. The picture belongs to you; the special meaning is all your own. But this doesn’t diminish the beauty you can find in photographs, even if you really have no idea where the photo was taken.

Bonnet Creet Resort, Windham Bonnet Creek Resort, Hollywood Studios, Bonnet Creek photosHere is a photo I took in 2011 at Windham Bonnet Creek Resort on the other side of the highway from Disney‘s Hollywood Studios.Our first stay here was fabulous, and included hot dogs for Christmas Eve dinner (a new annual tradition) and a swim in the heated lazy river on Christmas Day.

I took several shots of a sunset as the clouds were rolling in on Dec. 26th, the day before we returned home. Most people will not recognize this as Bonnet Creek.

There are no Disney characters in the shot, no iconic Disney architecture or logos, so you won’t recognize the location, but you are drawn in all the same.

photography, Picasa photo editing, Picasa photography, Disney Picasa, photo cropping, Disney photography, The beautiful thing about this photo is that I didn’t do a thing to change the color. I just cut out the distracting clouds and focused on the closer beauty of an Orlando sunset. I then fought off depression by telling myself in that every sunset does not look like this when you are three miles from the Magic Kingdom. I remain unconvinced; I somehow suspect actually they do.

So if you can’t zoom, then crop. A little nip here, and a little tuck there can take a good photo and bring it a little closer to home, both to your eye, and to your heart.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride, and we’ll see you around the Disney parks with a camera!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? For a virtual Disney vacation in pictures, join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook and Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!

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Photographing Disney: Picasa, or, How to Rescue a Rotten Picture

Disney Wishes, Disney fireworks, Disney vacation, Disney photography, fireworks

Every Photo has a story.

A good picture can capture your memories for generations to come, and a bad photo- well, it can crush your vacation-loving spirit. Last month for The Disney Moms, I talked about how my number one suggestion for good photography would be to check your camera batteries.  I know, I know, this seemed like such a simple idea. Two weeks after I wrote that article, while on vacation at Walt Disney World, I walked from Bay Lake Tower over to the Magic Kingdom early one morning while my family was still asleep. I thought I could pop over, take some shots, and monorail-myself back before anyone realized they had been left out.  It’s a 15 minute walk at a brisk pace, and I didn’t carry my backpack (containing, duh, extra batteries) so I wouldn’t have to stand in the lengthy holiday bag-check line.  I took exactly six pictures before my camera went completely dead.  And with a grimace of pain on my hypocritical face, I walked right back out of the MK entrance.  The monorail ride of photographic shame was humbling.  Imagine if my child had waited in a 30 minute line to see Pooh and Tigger before my batteries went kaput?  Let me re-state from personal experience…make certain you have batteries.

Picasa, Picnik, Disney photography, Disney carousel, Disney vacation, wishesI’d like to focus on an idea that hit me after I started using photo editing software with my photos; don’t delete your questionable pictures directly from your camera.  When I was bored in line at Disney, I would frequently clean off my memory cards with pictures that appeared lousy. But now, I’m suggesting you get yourself to some editing software and try to save your wayward photos.

I currently use Picasa photo editing software, which was free and easy to download. Click here for picasa.google.com to try it out for yourself.  With Picasa, you can organize, edit, and share your photos.  The Picasa 3.9 upgrade now works with Google+ for photo sharing and tagging.  Picasa is not Photoshop, and it’s probably beneath the professional level photographers, but how many of us are photo pros? Some days I’m just praying for the majority of my photos to be in focus. Again, Picasa is free, and it gets the job done. My 13-year-old-daughter really liked Picnik photo editing. Much to her dismay, and a lot of other people too, Google recently decided to discontinue Picnik, although rumor has it that Picnik may be moving to Google +. Unlike Picnik, where you could edit photos from any computer with internet access, Picasa software is installed on your computer, so it’s not as portable unless you install it on your lap top. But with Picnik’s future questionable, Picasa may be a good alternative, and way less expensive than Photoshop.

What did editing with Picasa teach me? It taught me not to be so quick to hit the delete button on my camera. I love going anywhere on the Walt Disney World property after the sun goes down.  The crowds are less dense, and the temps. are definitely lower in the summer, like in the 70’s at 2 a.m. in June. The colors are soft; neon lights are on in Tomorrowland. Yet on my iPhone, small camera, or my Nikon, despite heroic attempts, almost all of my night-time pictures appear dark and shadowy.  Some of them look downright awful when I glance through them on the camera standing on the spot. It’s discouraging and depressing.  Picasa taught me not to hit delete right away, unless the photo is just outrageously blurry, but to save it until I get home.

Here’s an original shot of the Contemporary Resort about 2 a.m.

Now here’s the photo edited version, compliments of Picasa.

There’s a marked difference. No photo awards are forthcoming, but I’m no longer standing in the dark of night either. Would this be fit for publication or a photo you would run out and frame?  Probably not, but you’re mainly taking family photos anyway.  Most of your shots are usually for your scrapbook and not necessarily destined for an 11x 14 frame in the family room.  There are some images worth rescuing with editing software, even if you are the only one to ever see them.

So resist the urge to delete your photos until you can get to some editing software and see what you can salvage. I look back at years of deleting dark photos on the spot and wish I had waited until technology caught up with my sub-par night-time photography skills. I have more photos to sift through when I get home, but I force myself to wait now, and I’m glad that I do. Picasa can work some magic with your daytime shots as well.

Thanks for coming along for a photographical ride!

Amanda

Love Disney World photography? Join Mouze Kateerz on Facebook for a virtual Disney vacation each day in photographs.  You can see even more great pictures by visiting Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some fabulous Disney photographs you’d like to share, send an email of your favorite Disney location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

See ya soon!