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Photography Frequently Asked Questions

I frequently receive emails asking the cameras I use and how I get many of the shots used on the website. This page will be my working notes/answers to these questions. So if you have any questions be sure to drop me a line and I will be sure to expand this page.



Let me start off by saying that I take pictures of Disney parks because I enjoy the parks and the challenge to get the shots. I am not really a by the book photographer and most of what I do is by trial and error and experience, mixed in with some engineering logic (since I am an engineer by education). So here are some things I have learned over the years:

  1. Equipment matters. Having the proper camera/lens for the situation definitely makes it easier to get the shot you want and the quality of that shot to be better. I went through several point and shoot cameras learning how to manually set/adjust them and then a graduated to an SLR camera in late 2005(Canon 20D then the 50D and now the 7D). This was a huge jump because of the costs involved, but the types of shots I am now able to get still amaze me sometimes. Even once investing in an SLR camera the next investment is to choose lenses that compliment each other and work for your environment. The first one I purchased was a 70-300mm telephoto lens with Image Stabilizer. This I use for all my close up shots and many high action shots (such as the Safari at Animal Kingdom or the Lights, Motors, Action show at the Studios also I use this within attractions to get many of those great Pirates and Small World shots. My mid-range lens is a 28-135 with image stabilizer. These two lens have been my main workhorse lenses. I just purchased (11/07) a wide angle 10-22mm lens which allows me to take some great panoramic as well as fuller frame shots of things such as the parade or in tight spaces such as the Caslte walk through. In November 2008 I upgraded to a Canon 50D which gives me a better image processor, longer burst mode, and more ISO levels to utilize. In November 2010 I upgraded to the Canon 7D.

    Note the Image Stabilizer on the two lenses, this allows for much longer exposure (slower shutter) in low light without blur.. also better odds of catching moving objects from a moving object (think attraction vechicle here). I also have the stock 18-55mm lens the camera came with that is pretty much going to be retired now (I used this for wide angle shots before). I also have a 50mm lens for quick shots. In 2009 I added a Canon EX ii external flash as well as a new mini tri-pod to help with some night time shots.

  2. For me quantity can lead to quality. What I mean by this is if you shoot enough pictures, with enough variation you are bound to get some good shots. This works in small instances, for example if I am shooting a character in a parade I can easily roll off a half dozen quick shots of the same thing in hopes of catching the right pose/look/etc.. or in a larger sense if you visit a place enough times taking the same shot one will come out.

  3. Practice... the more I shoot the more I learn and you do become familiar with your equipment, namely what it can and cannot do and how to make it do what you want. Also you become used to certain senarios.. for me things such as dark rides, stage shows, fireworks, parades, etc.. all have their own challenges and learning what works in each case helps alot.

Tips and Tricks
  • Disable the Flash on your Camera
    For 99% of attraction and night time shots you do not want the automatic flash in your camera going off. It usually just messed up the shot and just annoys everyone around you (also note Disney discourages the flash in almost all shows and attractions). By messing up the shot I mean you will end up getting un-intended results such as bounceback, white out, or just a terrible looking shot.

  • Learn the basics of your cameras modes
    Have a general idea what modes are available with your camera and the advantages to each. For example many have a night mode, but this mode is basically for long exposure shots so if you use it and are moving your shots do not come out. I would recommend learning the basics of a manual mode if your camera has it (at least try to learn how to set the ISO and the shutter speed that will help a lot).

  • Remember to compensate for spotlights
    When shooting shows or events with spotlights be sure to compensate for them. Many times your camera will pick up a light reading from nearby and you will end up with a very bright spot and not be able to tell what your subject is doing.. or you will end up with the subject in the spot light visible and nothing else..

  • Do you use a tri-pod?
    I only use a tri-pod for long exposure shots at night. Mostly with the Sony V-1 camera and a 6" tripod. For all close-up shots, night time action, and attraction shots I shoot free hand.

  • What do you set the camera to for those great night shots?
    For all shots I shoot in full manual mode (or if its a point and shoot I shoot in shutter priority mode if it doesn't have full manual). I never use a flash (this ruins the shots and annoys other guests). I set the ISO as high as I can without getting the grain in the shots (usually 3200->12800). I set the aperture to be wide open (lowest number available to let the most light in). Then I vary the shutter speed to take out and "blurryness" or shake. For non-spotlight events or things I shoot around 1/20th of a second usually. For things with a spotlight on them I shoot at a fast shutter speed sometimes all the way up to 1/120th or more of a second to compensate for the bright light. This is especially true for theater shows and Fantasmic.

  • What advice do you have for taking night or attraction shots?
    The best advice I can give is to take a lot of pictures. I am not that good of a photographer but what I lack in skill I make up for in quantity and trail/error. Since its digital and it costs you nothing but time and battery power why not snap away till you fill your memory cards/sticks.


Cameras I currently use: The primary Camera I use right now is the Canon 7D which I started using in November 2010. This is a digital SLR camera and I have three primary lenses. A 10-22mm wide angle, 28-135mm and a 70-300mm telephoto. To go along with this is approximately 10GB of Compact Flash space and 2 Batteries for the camera. (I used the Canon EOS-50D from November 2008-2010. and used a Canon 20D from December 2005 - November 2008 as my primary and now these two are my backup cameras)

I also have an Olympus 720 camera for bad weather and water attractions since it is waterproof and shock resistant.

From 2003-2005 we used a Sony Cybershot DSC -V1 (5 Megapixel), the geeks brother used a Sony Cybershot DSC-U30 (2 megapixel). All Images Prior to 2003 were taken with a Sony DSC-S75 Cybershot(3.3 Megapixels) for most of the pictures, on occasion we use a Sony Mavica FD75. For the video footage its a standard Sony 8mm Handycam (forget the model number) that we capture from. We also have used a Sony DSC-70 Cybershot(3.3 Megapixels).

Canon EOS-7D
(2010 - present)
Lens (70-300)
(2005 - present)
Lens (28-135)
(2006 - present)
Lens (10-22)
(2007 - present)
Olympus 720
Canon Speedlite 430
(20089 - present)
Slik V Mini Tri-pod
(2009 - present)
  Canon EOS-50D
(2008 - present)
Canon 50mm Lens
(2008 - present)
Retired Equipment
Sony DSC-V1
Sony DSC-U30
(2003 - 2006)
  Canon EOS-20D
(2005 - present)
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