CraftsDrawingPaintingPhotographySculptureTextiles & Sewing

Wide Angle and Night Photography at Disney World: Tips and Ideas For Taking Better Pictures For Your Next Trip

Updated on August 23, 2016
randomcreative profile image

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

Source

Vacations are an ideal opportunity to take gorgeous pictures in brand new locations. A trip to Walt Disney World is no exception. Whether you're a serious photographer or you're simply a parent looking for advice on taking better pictures of your kids while traveling, there are a number of simple tactics that will help you take your vacation pictures to the next level.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Queuing up for It's a Small World.Riding It's a Small World.Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot.The iconic Cinderella Castle in black and white.A view of the Cinderella Castle that provides more content of the theme park.It wouldn't be a trip to Disney without seeing Mickey, Minnie, and Donald.Another shot from the afternoon parade.Part of the experience of watching the parades at Disney is gathering with tons of people who are also taking lots of pictures.A classic shot of Epcot.One of the many across the lake views at Epcot.
Queuing up for It's a Small World.
Queuing up for It's a Small World. | Source
Riding It's a Small World.
Riding It's a Small World. | Source
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot. | Source
The iconic Cinderella Castle in black and white.
The iconic Cinderella Castle in black and white. | Source
A view of the Cinderella Castle that provides more content of the theme park.
A view of the Cinderella Castle that provides more content of the theme park. | Source
It wouldn't be a trip to Disney without seeing Mickey, Minnie, and Donald.
It wouldn't be a trip to Disney without seeing Mickey, Minnie, and Donald. | Source
Another shot from the afternoon parade.
Another shot from the afternoon parade. | Source
Part of the experience of watching the parades at Disney is gathering with tons of people who are also taking lots of pictures.
Part of the experience of watching the parades at Disney is gathering with tons of people who are also taking lots of pictures. | Source
A classic shot of Epcot.
A classic shot of Epcot. | Source
One of the many across the lake views at Epcot.
One of the many across the lake views at Epcot. | Source

Shooting wide angle at Disney World

Capturing the essence of the experience

Arguably many vacation destinations make great places to shoot wide angle. These shots allow you to capture the essence of a scene in a way that you can't with close up shots. For example, part of the experience of being at the Magic Kingdom is that it's crowded. You have a hard time getting more than a couple feet of space to yourself at any given time. Instead of fighting the crowds and trying to get a lot of clean, tight shots, embrace the crowds and include them in your photos. Maybe you're watching a parade, and there are tons of families on both sides of the street. Instead of focusing solely on the parade floats and zooming in close on them to capture every tiny detail, make a point to include some of the spectators in your photos. These pictures will give you a better overall feel of the parade.

Taking pictures during the rides

Another important element of wide angle photography at Disney World is taking pictures during the rides. Many rides have narrow corridors with tight corners. A wide focal length or range of wide focal lengths will give you a better chance of capturing these rides successfully. As most rides move fairly quickly, you don't have time to worry about zooming in and capturing every detail crisply. You're better off taking a few wider shots and then putting the camera down to enjoy the rest of the ride.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nightly fireworks over the water at Epcot.Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Magic Kingdom.Beast's CastleCircus Posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic KingdomEntrance sign to Storybook Circus Fantasyland.One of the fountains in Epcot.Spaceship Earth at night.Low lit cinema sign in Spaceship Earth.During the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor show.Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot.
Nightly fireworks over the water at Epcot.
Nightly fireworks over the water at Epcot. | Source
Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Magic Kingdom.
Prince Charming Regal Carousel at Magic Kingdom. | Source
Beast's Castle
Beast's Castle | Source
Circus Posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom
Circus Posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom | Source
Entrance sign to Storybook Circus Fantasyland.
Entrance sign to Storybook Circus Fantasyland. | Source
One of the fountains in Epcot.
One of the fountains in Epcot. | Source
Spaceship Earth at night.
Spaceship Earth at night. | Source
Low lit cinema sign in Spaceship Earth.
Low lit cinema sign in Spaceship Earth. | Source
During the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor show.
During the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor show. | Source
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Caballeros at Epcot. | Source

Magic Kingdom 2014 Night Tour at Walt Disney World

Night photography is a huge aspect of visiting the Disney World theme parks.

While you don't have to visit Disney World at night, for many people, the nightly shows are one of the highlights. A fireworks show or parade is the perfect way to end a full day of rides, shows, shopping, and food. Of course you want to capture these nightly events the best that you can. There are tons of articles out there with basic night photography tips for photographers of all levels. I highly recommend reading a few articles (see right) about night photography before your trip so that you're equipped with go to tips.

Do you need a tripod for night photography at Disney World?

One of the top tips for night photography is to use a tripod. Using a tripod minimizes risk of blurring in low light levels. While it would be great to use a tripod at Disney for the nightly parades, fireworks, and other shows, it isn't a good idea, due to the large crowds. You'll struggle to find a place to set up a tripod safely, particularly at the Magic Kingdom. Leave it at home for this trip and focus on other key night photography tips, such as composition, choosing an optimal shooting spot, and using the correct camera settings.

Disney Photography Blog: GEARing up for a Disney Photo Trip

I used the Black Rapid RS-7 or Curve at Disney and was very happy with it. It offers comfort and ease of use.

For DSLR users: which lens should you use for optimal wide angle and night photography?

If you plan on taking pictures with your smartphone or point and shoot camera only, you don't need to worry about choosing a lens. If you're traveling to Disney World with your DSLR, you'll have to consider which lenses to take with you. There are a few important factors to take into consideration.

The first is the previous mentioned wide angle focal length(s) and low light capability. Wide angle gives you more flexibility in tight, crowded spaces, including rides, and low light capability gives you more options at night and in dimly lit settings, again including rides.

The second is weight. As a DSLR user, you know that many camera bodies and lenses are heavy. Adding a 3.5 pound lens to a 1.5 pound camera body means that you're carrying around 5 pounds of camera. Choosing a 1.5 or 2 pound lens significantly lowers the weight total. You may decide that it's worth sacrificing a little image quality to save yourself hours and hours of lugging heavy gear.

Finally, if you're shooting with a DSLR, don't forget to bring a good camera strap. I can't tell you how many people I saw walking around the theme parks with a standard issue neck strap that leaves your neck aching after just an hour or two. Even worse, I saw some people quit using the strap altogether and leave the camera perched on top of a stroller. You want to carry your expensive gear comfortably. Spend a little more to get a professional strap like a Black Rapid or Joby. Whether or not you're a professional photographer, you'll be glad to have it.

Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Art Series : PhotoRec Toby

Why did I choose the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 for my Disney World trip?

My husband and I traveled to Orlando in January 2015. For the trip, I chose to rent the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 from Borrow Lenses. I knew that I wanted a wide angle lens with great low light capability. The Sigma 18-35 fit both of these criteria. It's also in my price range, which means that the rental fees were relatively low, and if I'm interested in buying it, I can afford it within the next couple years.

I was very impressed with the Sigma 18-35. I can really see why Sigma has gained a reputation for producing high quality lenses in recent years. The 18-35 has a solid build with sturdy construction and internal zooming. It doesn't have Image Stabilization (IS), but I had virtually no issues with blurry images, even at night and on dark rides. I'm not going to rush out and buy this lens any time soon because I don't have a lot of use for it in my day to day photography routine at home. However, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a wide angle lens with low light capability for under $1,000.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ceiling detail in the World Showcase.My husband with one of the posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.Golden hour is a fantastic time to create unique images at Walt Disney World.Another golden hour shot.Performance in the World Showcase.Enjoying a pineapple Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom.My husband checking out some Moroccan goods.Fence detail in the World Showcase.I took this picture purely because my name is Rose.There are so many neat little touches in the Disney Parks, such as this gargoyle outside of the Beast's Castle.
Ceiling detail in the World Showcase.
Ceiling detail in the World Showcase. | Source
My husband with one of the posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom.
My husband with one of the posters in Storybook Circus Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom. | Source
Golden hour is a fantastic time to create unique images at Walt Disney World.
Golden hour is a fantastic time to create unique images at Walt Disney World. | Source
Another golden hour shot.
Another golden hour shot. | Source
Performance in the World Showcase.
Performance in the World Showcase. | Source
Enjoying a pineapple Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom.
Enjoying a pineapple Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom. | Source
My husband checking out some Moroccan goods.
My husband checking out some Moroccan goods. | Source
Fence detail in the World Showcase.
Fence detail in the World Showcase. | Source
I took this picture purely because my name is Rose.
I took this picture purely because my name is Rose. | Source
There are so many neat little touches in the Disney Parks, such as this gargoyle outside of the Beast's Castle.
There are so many neat little touches in the Disney Parks, such as this gargoyle outside of the Beast's Castle. | Source

Additional tips and ideas for Disney World photography.

  • Think about whether or not you want to include crowds in your images. As I mentioned before, Disney Parks are often quite crowded, especially Magic Kingdom. The heavy foot traffic, long lines, and big crowds are part of the experience, and it can be fun to capture some of that in your images. For example, think about taking pictures of people queuing up for rides or gathering with phones and cameras in hand for a parade or fireworks display.
  • Look for unique perspectives. There are tons of images of the Disney theme parks that look exactly the same. While there's nothing wrong with having your own straight on shot of the Cinderella Castle or Spaceship Earth, think about what you can bring to the equation that will set it apart from the crowd. Look for unusual angles or compositions and embrace opportunities to shoot at golden hour with soft light.
  • Make sure to take pictures of your family and friends. As you look back on vacation pictures years later, you want to remember who was there. Don't forget to take at least a few pictures of the people in your travel group. Include context so that you know where you took the pictures, such as posing at your favorite restaurant in the Epcot World Showcase or right after you get off of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
  • Use your pictures to tell a story. One neat thing that you can do with vacation pictures is make an album. There is something about having a physical album that just isn't the same looking as digital pictures on a computer. Instead of simply snapping random photos, think about how you'll be able to use your images to tell a story of your trip in a photo book.

© 2015 Rose Clearfield

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Very helpful--from positioning to the idea of renting lenses. Beautiful demonstrations! This article is a keeper. Thank you.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm so glad to hear it, MsDora! Thanks!

    • magicalvacation profile image

      Josh Avery 2 years ago

      Love the pictures-- plenty of detail in the pictures which is what WDW is all about! °o°

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, magicalvacation! I agree!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 2 years ago

      Well now I'm ready to hit the road to Disney World with (or without) my camera. Nice hub with great tips and I really liked the world showcase photo.

    • randomcreative profile image
      Author

      Rose Clearfield 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Glimmer Twin Fan! Disney World is a blast, with or without a camera in hand.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 21 months ago

      I think I like the ceiling photo the best.

    Click to Rate This Article