[Pre-Trip Report] Snap Happy [Dine Around Disney 2014]

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Snap Happy…my photography plans and tips!

As you know, I take a lot of photographs – and last year was a bit of a personal record in the amount I took each day! I have had several lovely comments about my Disney photos, and this part of my pre-trip report is dedicated to probably my favourite thing to do in the World – photography!

Let me start with a couple of things you need to know about me…

  • I’m not a professional photographer, so I don’t know a thing about settings!
  • I don’t own a DSLR camera
  • I took all my photos on our first trip on my iPhone4
  • I still enjoy everything whilst taking lots of photos
  • I’ll always take lots of photos
  • I love sharing my photos

Now, here are my camera details…

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 – my ‘main’ camera
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 – my waterproof camera
  • Panasonic V720 – our camcorder
  • iPhone5
  • I edit photos using Photoshop CS5 and Camera+ on my phone

With all that stuff out of the way, lets get onto the photographs!

My favourite photo that I’ve taken at Walt Disney World is this one of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. I took it on my iphone5 and added a filter or two in Camera+. I think it shows that you really don’t need a fancy camera to take a fab shot! I’ve always said that the best camera is the one in your hand ^_^


Tip #1 – Take photos of the weenies!

Since this is our third trip to the World, I’ve already gots lots of photographs of the weenies – Cinderella Castle, Spaceship Earth, Tree of Life and the Sorcerer’s Hat. They’re iconic, and I will still take photos of them this year, but perhaps I will look for different ways to capture them!

Have some patience – yes, the parks are crowded, but there will be breaks in the crowd for you to take a clearish shot (or book an early breakfast ADR to get your winning shot!) wait for the break and snap a few – both portrait and landscape. Check out different view points and angles too! And different times of the day!


Tip #2 – Ask someone else to take a photo of you and your family!

If, like me, you’re the one behind the lens, then you’ll probably find that you’re not in many of the photographs. For some, this might not be a problem, maybe you don’t like your photo being taken! But you can ask a fellow guest (I’ve done this several times, and reciprocated too) or you can ask one of the Disney Photopass Photographers or CMs when you’re doing things like the meet and greets. Don’t always expect perfectly focused, in frame shots though! 

One of my favourite pictures of hubs and me is one the boy took of us! We were having a photopass pic taken at the same time. The boy did a good job and even got all of Cinderella Castle in the frame! The Sword in the Stone photo was taken by a passing guest, and our Four Corners of the World pics were taking by Disney Photopass Photographers on my phone so I could share them immediately with my friends back in the UK!


Tip #3 – Characters!

There is ample opportunity at all the parks to take photographs of characters – be it in a show, parade or a meet and greet. You can even quickly snap them as you see them walking about. Capture the hugs, and the silliness as well as a group pic of you all if you can!


Tip #4 – Things you don’t see every day!

In 2011, our first trip to Orlando, we didn’t know if we would ever get the chance to go back, so I made sure I took lots of photographs of random things – like signs, and clouds, and shops…


Tip #4 – Food!

We all do it – take photos of the food that we are about to eat! And you will always find plenty of foodie photos on my memory card! When taking food photos, make sure you have decent natural light, and if you can’t get that, don’t be scared (if you have no shame like me! ) to quickly shine a torch from your phone! Of course, this will depend if you care about your food shots (i.e., no one will ever see them!) or if you want to use them in a trip report or in scrapbooking etc…


Tip #5 – Capture the details!

There are so many little things you can miss when taking photos of the big thing. I don’t think I could ever get bored of taking photos that are little be less obvious! 


Tip #6 – Shows & Parades

Disney know how to put on both a show and a parade, and you have to be quick with these shots! Stake out a good location for both of them, and that’s my best advice! Indoor shows are a little easier – but turn off the flash – the light on the stage is usually sufficient (except the Tiki Room, in which I just wing it (no pun intended!!)


Tip #7 – Fireworks, Electrical Parade & Night Shots

I really have no tips for this other than it’s always luck for me – I put burst mode on for fireworks, because I really don’t know the best settings to use. I should learn…some cameras do have a firework mode (my old camera did) so put that on! Use a tripod if you can or something to lean your camera on. I personally hand hold all my shots.

Oh, and DON’T USE FLASH – it washes everything out completely!


Tip #8 – Underwater photography

First off, I’ll pass on a tip that a fellow photographer told me about – wipe (and then wipe off!) toothpaste on your underwater camera – this prevents (supposedly, I’ve not tested it yet!) steaming up and condensation.

You have to be really quick underwater if you’re taking photographs of the fish (for example at the Grand Reef in Discovery Cove), you don’t need so much speed when you’re just being silly with the camera in the pool (like we often do!) You are also going to need patience as the fish and rays swim around you – I literally just float along with my camera ready! I love taking photos underwater, I find it really relaxing!


Tip #9 – Natural Florida

Even if you don’t go into the wild (like on a swamp tour, or to a state park) there is plenty of flora and fauna to be seen in Orlando – it’s not all about bright, brash plastic! I’ll be seeking out lots of natural things on our trip (eep, next week! )


Tip #10 – photos of your family!

Don’t forget to capture the smiles and the laughter to remind you of the fab time you had on holiday! Selfies included!

I’ll be taking lots of photos this year, as always, especially, as I know I’m going to have to take things at a slower pace (my own fault for not losing weight) but it means I get to really look for things and hope to have lots of different photos to share with you in my next trip report!

Here are some final tips that I can think of from the top of my head, and may repeat some I’ve already said!

  • Make sure you have all your batteries fully charged for a day out
  • Take spare memory cards
  • Take a plastic bag to put your camera in if it rains (mine got wet in our bag last year! Lesson firmly learned)
  • If you can, download your photos each day to a laptop/notepad. Double back up into Dropbox or similar cloud storage
  • Don’t take hundreds of photos of the same thing – you’ll be deleting and editing for weeks afterwards!
  • Take photos of the main attractions, the iconic structures, the ride entrances, signs etc – they’re such a great aid to memory, and helpful too when writing a trip report!
  • Don’t feel you have to rush out and buy a super fancy camera – you don’t.
  • Have patience – wait for that person to move out of the way, wait for the character to turn his head, catch the next firework burst!
  • Use toothpaste on your underwater camera lens (rub it in, rub it off) it’s supposed to help condensation forming!
  • Think about the frame of the shot – make sure you’re not chopping off the very top of something (unless that is intentional) make sure it is well balanced, make sure you’ve not got a plant sticking out of the top of someone’s head!
  • The light in Florida is generally amazing for taking photographs, so make use of all the sunshine!
  • If you find the sunlight too harsh to see the LCD screen on your camera, use the viewfinder instead (if your camera has one)
  • Take a photo of your parking lot so you can find your car!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask someone to take a photograph of you and your family.
  • Look up, look down, look all around – there is so much to see at the theme parks!
  • Some things can be fixed in post-processing – cropping, adjusting the levels of the brightness and contrast. Some things can’t – like completely blown out lighting or focus.
  • Hold your camera steady, and if you’re shaky, rest it on something!
  • Even if you take photos with a camera, take a few on your phone to share with friends and family back home on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc
  • Turn off the flash – you really, REALLY don’t need it – ever. Not even for fireworks. I hate flash with a passion!
  • Learn some basic modes on your camera – check out any special settings (panoramic, panning, fireworks, burst mode, timer)
  • Don’t be so preoccupied with taking photos that you forget to enjoy everything!
  • And finally, as long as you love the photographs you took, that’s all that matters!

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