Monday, January 9, 2012

In Pursuit of Pirates Part #2 ~ No Flash Photography Please! Dark Ride Photo Tips with Deb of Focused on the Magic

For Part #1 of In Pursuit of Pirates, I shared where my Disney obsession began ~ my first ride through of Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  This week "In Pursuit of the Pirates" continues with Deb from Focused on the Magic as she shares her photo tips for taking photos inside Disney's dark rides.

Thanks so much Beth for inviting me here today to share a few photography tips for capturing the ride, Pirates of The Caribbean (POTC). It’s been my favorite ride in The Magic Kingdom since my first trip in 1990. I love the ride experience but I also love the photography challenge it presents. I’ve learned a few things over the years through trial and error (mostly error ;) that I’d like to share with you today. For those of you who have developed your own way of taking pictures on this ride, you may not learn anything new about photography but you will learn a little more about my photography style.

What makes Pirates of the Caribbean such a challenge for me? POTC is considered one of the "dark" Disney rides. Not only because it's scary to young ones. The lighting is very low. So low at times, you can't see your hand in front of your face. That adds to the Disney magic but makes it a little tricky to take well exposed pictures. Combine the low lighting with a boat ride that is constantly moving forward and rocking side to side and you’ve got a photo challenge.

I would suggest that everyone practice at home for POTC using a camera that you can adjust the settings on. Become familiar with adjusting the f stop through your viewfinder. Try shooting in low light situations in Manual and Aperture Priority modes. I go to my darkroom in the basement to practice. In the parks you’ll find there aren’t always places to sit down to change lenses or make adjustments when you need them. Practice changing batteries, memory cards and taking your lens on and off while standing. Yes, the ground is always there but you really don’t want to take the chance of having your gear stepped on.

Now that you’ve practiced you should be prepared for the ride. POTC has a long fairly well lit queue that provides a good place to swap lenses, put in fresh batteries, change out memory cards and adjust your settings. Don’t wait till you are on the ride to make adjustments. Let people pass you if you need more time. Let the kids look for a Hidden Mickey while you get ready. POTC is only 8 ½ minutes long and you won’t want to miss a minute of capturing shots or experiencing the ride. Especially, experiencing the ride!

Top 5 tips:
  • You’ll need a fast prime lens set to f /1.8. I’ve used a Sigma 30mm f /1.4, Nikon 50mm f /1.2, f/1.4 and f/1.8 with the Sigma as my favorite.
  • Set your ISO to at least 1600 (3200 or higher if you can). Most of the time I use an ISO of 2000.
  • I suggest you shoot in RAW if you can and worry about noise and white balance in post processing. That being said I often shoot in JPG, as I don’t like to do post processing on a gigzillion vacation pictures.
  • I like to shoot in Manual. If you’re not comfortable in manual mode try Aperture Priority or AV. Keep watching your shutter speeds in the view finder. If your shutter speeds get faster change to f /2 or f /2.8. You want the greatest DOF you can get.
  • If you can turn your screen off on your camera, do it. Your fellow riders will appreciate it and you won’t be distracted by it. Of course, you all know. No-flash-photography!

If all of the above sounds like too much work, don’t despair. There are plenty of shots that you can get on POTC that don’t require camera adjustments or fast prime lenses.
  • The ship sign outside in the courtyard. Its backlit so zoom in on the flag, point and shoot.
  •  As you enter look up at the banner painted on the wall over the door. It’s well lit day and night.
  • The queues offer shots of Hidden Mickey cannon balls and dead men playing chess to name a few. 
  • On the ride: The jail scene and the wench auction are a little brighter than the others.
  • If you’re really lucky the 750,000 million gallons of water flowing through Pirates of the Caribbean will stop long enough for you to fire off a few steady shots.
  • The gift shop is not only full of pirate bounty but it's filled with photo opportunities with props and scenes.
  • Have fun & shoot, shoot, shoot. You can always edit them out later.

I hope these tips help you capture more treasured Pirates of The Caribbean photo memories on your next trip!

Focused on the Magic
Thank you so much for sharing your amazing photos and 
your photo tips, Deb!

If you haven't visited Focused on the Magic, I highly recommend that you do. She has so many amazing photos that inspire me to work on my photography skills!  You can find Deb on Facebook at Focused on the Magic and follow her on Twitter at @debsdistwit.

Make sure you check back here Monday for Part #3 of our series.  Mary of Capturing Magical Memories and MC Digital Designs will be sharing her tips on how to preserve your Pirates of the Caribbean memories and photos.

Here are the posts included in the entire series:


Capturing Magical Memories said...

Love the last shot in the #Disney Pirates gift shop.  Never would have thought of that!  I will give these tips a try on my next trip!

Beth D. said...

I will need to follow in your footsteps, Mary, and take a solo trip so I can work on my photography skills!  I also think Deb should give photography classes/tours at Walt Disney World! :-)

Beth Green said...

love it!!  This is what I needed to know before my trip next month.  I guess these tips apply to all dark rides, huh??

DisneyonWheels said...

Great tips! I love the photo from the gift shop. Great idea!

DebSays said...

Thanks so much Beth for having me as a guest blogger today! I loved talking about two of my favorites, photography & Pirates of the Caribbean! 

DebSays said...

Thanks Beth, yes they could apply to all the dark rides.I'm looking forward to seeing your pics!

DebSays said...

I'm up for that!! Actually on my solo trip during the F&G festival I had a photo meet/walking tour of Epcot!

DebSays said...

Thanks Mary! There are so many photo ops in the shop. That one is a Hidden Mickey/Hidden Me combo:)

DebSays said...

Thanks Melissa! That was taken on one of a solo trip during very late EMHs. I had a great time that night!

400 Miles to Disneyland said...

Excellent tips!!  Thanks Beth and Debs for putting this together!!

Kelly said...

What an awesome and thorough article! I just love it! Thanks to you I am going to play around with my camera and try to figure out some of the settings. Thanks!! :0)

DebSays said...

Thanks Kelly! Good luck! Make sure you post some pictures so we can see the settings in action!

Tami said...

Nice post!  Now, how will I remember all that ... ha ha!  Oh well, at least I can enjoy Deb's amazing shots online :)

Neat series - I'll be following along ...

Mel Clatfelter said...

I still don't understand ISO, but I will try adjusting the setting. Every time I turn off the flash, I get blurry pics. I need so much practice.

Beth D. said...

Me too!  I need to practice more here at home so I am ready for our next trip!  This is one of my favorite attractions and I have no photos of the interior!

Beth D. said...

Thank you, Tami!  Maybe Deb she write an e-book that we can access from our phones while in WDW! :-)

Kristen Hoetzel said...

Great tips Deb! I don't have a 1.4 but I do have a 50mm/ f1.8 that I use. I agree it works pretty good too. Now if only other people wouldn't use there flash. I hate to say it but it's one of my biggest pet peeves.

Eric Allen said...

Great tips!  Few things infuriate me more quickly than some goober flashing away in a dark ride.  The flash illuminates things that aren't meant to be illuminated and ruins the experience, especially for those riding the first time.

Beth D. said...

I agree, Eric!  The worst part is it happens all the time!  I can't wait to get back down to WDW to test out Deb's tips.  I have no interior photos of this attraction!