February 14, 2014

Walt Disney World Part V: Hollywood Studios

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The first parts of this series had statements about the abundance of subject matter you can encounter there, and Hollywood Studios is no exception. Being thrust into a photographically rich environment is fun, but can also distract you from thinking about composition and getting the best image quality in camera by making sure you nail exposure etc. You end up just trying to quickly photograph EVERYTHING. Also, to compound this, if you are with someone or with a group of people, it is probably annoying for them to wait around for you while you fiddle with camera settings. I try not to let photography distract me from the true reason I go to the parks, but it is quite hard sometimes when there are so many cool things to be photographed. Early in this blog's (short) history I wrote a post about my "introduction to long exposure photography". Most, if not all of the images featured were of an abstract nature and all were taken at the Disney parks. I figured I would expand on that and show some additional abstract photos specific to this park. =)

Abstract photography is not everyone's cup of tea, but I think that allowing this genre to your library or portfolio shows that you aren't afraid to let go of all the rules and create something where the subject itself is the image. Hollywood Studios is great for this type of photography, but I think this could be said about theme parks in general. There are often bright lights and abstract shapes that come in the form of attractions, silhouettes or masses of people. At Hollywood Studios... masses of people are not in short demand. 

I think there are two types of people photography to be had at Hollywood studios. The first is what would be considered traditional street photography. Here I am talking about photographing subjects who are either working or visiting the parks in relatively normal garb. The photo can be taken with a wide angle lens to give some context to the situation, or be taken with a longer lens to allow for subject isolation. The second type is what I would call "actor photography" and involves photographing people at the park who are employed as street or stage performers. This type can also be taken using a wide angle lens, but for the most part actors remain some distance away from you in which case a portrait or telephoto lens is needed. 

I enjoy both of these types, but would venture to say that photographing actors (especially the street comedians) is easier because they convey a lot of emotion. This in turn translates into a more "moving" photo and if you enjoy capturing peoples' expressions then this park is the place to visit! You should also visit because of the attractions!! I think out of all the parks, the rides at Hollywood Studios are the best, if not, definitely the most "adult oriented". Before I met my partner I was absolutely terrified of roller coasters... even the little kid ones like "Primordial Whirl" at Animal Kingdom. I forced myself to get on one at a boardwalk in Texas and it was a HORRIBLY SCARY, but life changing experience. Now I cannot get enough, I want to go backwards, upside down, 150 mph, you name it! Moral of the story is: ride the "Rockin Rollercoaster"... you won't regret it. And while you are at it, travel into the Twilight Zone and have your insides re-arranged by the Tower of Terror. Star Tours is also a blast because each time you ride it, the story is a little different. Really there are so many things to do at Hollywood Studios from the live action shows (including Indiana Jones and the Little Mermaid) to eating at pizza planet after being educated in movie production and it's history. The list goes on and on. Plus, if you go around Christmas, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is a MUST SEE!! I have already written about the Spectacle but only posted photos taken with the third party fisheye available for micro four thirds. 

Truly there is a plethora of fun at Disney, but one of my absolute favorite things in all of the four parks is Fantasmic. If ever there was an attraction not to skip... this is it. All the Disney movies that I loved growing up are showcased here in a sort of ultimate battle between good and evil. Depsite Fantasmic's amazingness, photographing the show has proven a bit difficult for me. I can never settle on a focal length because there are times when you want to capture the scene as a whole, and times when you want to focus on one element. On my first two attempts here, I used manual focus lenses which was a GIANT mistake. I do not recommend trying it, there is so much action and it was near impossible to focus on anything. The last time I saw it I tried using the MZD 40-150mm kit zoom and photos were a little better, but more often than not blurry because I had to use a relatively slow shutter speed to combat the lens' "dark" nature. I probably should have used the 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens, but again felt I needed some REACH. Another problem is that if you sit in the front, you and your gear end up getting continually misted so once you pick a lens your stuck there unless you want to risk getting your sensor wet during a lens swap. I bet the 75mm f/1.8 would work magic here, but it may be too long to effectively photograph some scenes. Oh well, C'est la vie, here are my attempts :)

50 mm
150 mm
40 mm
120 mm
135 mm
I think besides getting some good firework photos at Cinderella's castle, getting some really stellar shots of Fantasmic is one of my photography goals. I will probably use the MZD 45mm portrait lens next time ad see how that works out. Also, sometime this year, Olympus is supposed to release a 40-150mm f/2.8 which I bet would fit the bill to capture some great photos of Fantasmic, but then again I have a feeling that price tag is going to scare me off. Again, like I said in the EPCOT post, the photos I presented are really only a glimpse into what the park has to offer and you could spend all day on photography there. If it is your first time, I don't recommend this... just go with the intention of having fun and make photography a second priority. That is another reason why I love the micro four thirds system. It's compact, light, and inconspicuous, but still (at least in my opinion) delivers great image quality. I can be at the parks for a week with the EM5 around my neck and really the only time I notice it is when I need to put it away to ride something. In the end though, it doesn't really matter what system you use. Gear should only be used as a tool used to express your vision as a photographer. I am so excited for the next post on Magic Kingdom. Infact I feel that I will have to compile two seperate entries on this park alone to really do it justice. I am struggling with ideas for seperation, but in the mean time, I hope you enjoy what I have put together so far. Also Happy Valentines Day!!!

Sam. D

Walt Disney World Series:

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Animal Kingdom
Part IV: Post Processing in China
Part V: Hollywood Studios

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