The Blue Castle

 I went to Disneyland last November, The Happiest Place on Earth, strictly as a tourist.   I’ve been there a number of times but have never seen the fireworks display before.  If you have not been there to see this, you must go, as it is simply fabulous and one of the greatest fireworks displays you may ever see.   We were there for three days and on the second night I was there I decided to set myself, with my sister and wife, in the street in front of the castle entrance early.  By early I mean if you don’t get there very early there won’t be a place to sit on the curb for the long wait.  Yes, it’s that popular of a position.  I did not have a tripod which would have been nice but also a bit difficult to use with the closeness of the people around us.   As a result I had to handhold my Nikon.  Not always an easy task to get the sharp shots this way.  My advantage was everyone was sitting as well as myself.  So without a tripod the trick is to brace yourself while sitting with your arms tucked tightly into your legs.  You may have to experiment to find the best position for you to stay steady.  Obviously, when shooting something of this nature you need to have a slower shutter speed and a higher ISO.  Again, this is something you can experiment with using your own camera, which is part of the fun and excitement.  This particular pic I shot at 1/40th of a second at f3.8 and ISO 3200.   I took others at different settings, so experiment for the best results with your camera.   The other thing – Take bunches of shots and have fun!  Hey, It’s Disneyland!

Good Shooting Everyone


Choosing to make a Black & White

Saguaro Sentinal 2    B&W Saguaro sentinal 2

Out of the thousands of pictures we take there are a few that simply beg to be made in good old black and white. As usual with photography it is a subjective view. While I loved this picture in color it kept making me wonder just how it would look in black & white. I think it was begging me.

I took it in May on an outing with friends. The view is of the Mazatzal Mountain Range in the Tonto National Forest just 40 miles northeast of Phoenix, Arizona. It was an impressive photo day with the ominous looking clouds and terrific views. A type of day photographers live for.

In any case I decided to take this particular shot into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and convert it to black & white. I was immediately happy with the first look. However, as it looked a little flat, I decided to use a few of the adjustments that are available in Lightroom to enhance it to more of what I saw when I shot it. I went through my normal steps adjusting the whites, blacks, shadows, highlights and so on that are available in Lightroom but decided I wanted to go a little further. I then went through a progression of other steps. I used the graduated filter to bring out the clouds more and the adjustment brush to add some contrast to the clouds and bring out the landscape more. In the end I was happy with the result and will have it printed and framed for a special place in my home.

So how did I choose to make this a black & white? As I wrote in the beginning it is mostly subjective. There are probably technical reasons you can point to in a picture that will make it a better black & white than others but in the end it is what you feel. In this shot I think it was the clouds that first drew my attention as a possibility, then the desert road and finally the rest fell into place.

Good shooting everyone


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