One of the benefits of living where I do is that I’m about two hours away from Disney. This makes it possible to make a “day trip” to Disney. Not to mention that it’s much cheaper than staying over night and visiting the parks. There are lots of things to do for FREE if you know where to go. One of the things that my wife and I like to do once in awhile is to go up during the evening, have dinner and watch the fireworks and come home. One of the many places that has a variety of restaurants is Downtown Disney. If you are looking for shopping and food, this is the place for you.
Once of our favorite places to visit is Planet Hollywood. It’s always neat to see the ever changing props that are used in all of the movies. The last time we were there, we sat at a table that had the costume that was used my the main character in Hellboy. Before that, they had the costume that Julia Roberts wore in Pretty woman. The costume in particular was the white tee shirt with the blue cloud skirt that was connected by a brass ring in the middle. After dinner, I like to take a look around. The building is three stories tall and it’s a globe shape. It’s a neat layout. During one of my travels, I noticed that they even had the saw blade that David Copperfield used in his “Death Saw” illusion. I didn’t see any blood on it, so he must still be in one piece.
Downtown Disney is made of two parts. One side of the plaza has the Cirque Du Soleil building, Virgin Mega Store, House of Blues and more restaurants. On the other side is the Marketplace. This is Disney code for “tourist trap”. If you are looking for anything Disney, they have it here. One of Disney’s most profitable items that they stumbled upon are the pins. My wife and I actually got sucked into this one. She is a Winne The Pooh fan so at least we kept the theme to the Hundred Acre Wood. I think that this is a disease for some people, but who am I to point fingers? I think we have the same disease; it’s just called “Pooh Pins”.
This is one of the neatest places to photograph. During the day it takes a more family, slow approach. At night, it gets interesting as Pleasure Island is in the middle of the plaza. Here you can pay a flat fee and go to as many themed night clubs as you wish. It’s interesting to watch people come and go to this particular attraction. With all of the lights at night, you can get some really interesting photographs of the property. But, be warned, since 9/11, the security team is on the look out for tripods. Disney is private property and you have no say when you are on its grounds. If a security member asks you to leave or for identification, you better comply or you will find yourself in front of the Orange County Police Department. I read about a photographer that was photographing there at night and was using his tripod and slow lens. He was just trying to document the family’s vacation. The security team asked him for his drivers license and he refused. It wasn’t long until the OCPD showed up and escorted him off the property. He thought that they violated his rights. Well, I hate to say it, he forget one important thing…he was on PRIVATE PROPERTY.
With is in mind, how can you photograph at night and get decent exposures? I choose my 50mm f/1.4 for my weapon of choice. My Nikon does OK at higher ISO, but I try and not to push it if I don’t have to. The images on this post were shot at 1600 ISO at around f/2.8. This gave me a shutter speed of around 1/30 to 1/60 of a second. The length of the 50mm lens is also short. This won’t stick out in the crowd and cause for any possible issues with the security team.
Disney has a trash can every 27 feet (yes, I know I have a Disney problem) so I see these as possible tripods every 27 feet. Just use your camera’s self-timer and press the shutter button. This is the best scenario if you can make this work. Don’t worry, people will stare, but you will get the photo. I always laugh as I watch people take photos of a building or restaurant as the first thing that they do….pop up the flash. Those of you who have read this site for a while know that the pop up flash is only good for about 10 feet. What is the result? The person in front of the building is ghostly white and the building in the background is in the black hole. When I want to shoot something like this, I will shoot with no flash and a longer exposure. This will ensure that I get all of the light that my eye is seeing.
If you don’t have a “fast” piece of glass, I would recommend picking up a 50mm f/1.8. These are about $125 at B&H Photo. You pay a premium for that extra .4 aperture. This way when you travel, you will have a lens that can handle any lighting situation.
Until next time…
Keep Your Glass Clean