The Molly Brown river boat at Disneyland Paris cruises the Rivers of America, navigating around Big Thunder Mountain’s “island” and past the town of Thunder Mesa, Phantom Manor, and the rest of Paris’ version of Frontierland. I understand that it underwent a top-to-bottom refurbishment that basically rebuilt the ship in 2011, and it was looking excellent during our Christmas 2012 trip. In the background here, you’ll notice some floodlights above Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant. These lights are part of the Disneyland Paris Christmas lighting ceremony which occurs once each night.
Sarah and I had plenty of time in Disneyland Paris to see and experience everything we wanted to do. More than enough, actually, considering that there were so many things in Paris and London that we missed by spending one third of the trip in Marne-la-Vallee. But, we’re huge Disney fans, so spending a good amount of the trip at Disneyland Paris was almost mandatory.
Plus, one of my hobbies is “Disney photography.” Within that realm of photography, my favorite subset of Disney photography is nighttime architectural photography. This type of photography can only be accomplished at…night (obviously), which means there’s limited time each day to capture my most “coveted” photos.
In Walt Disney World and Disneyland, I focus on this type of photography as the attractions close and the parks clear. However, at Disneyland Paris this wasn’t feasible for a couple of reasons. Mostly because of our choices–we loved the Disney Dreams nighttime show that starts when the park closes so much that we couldn’t bring ourselves to skip it. By the time this show was over, accessing any area of the park besides Main Street wasn’t possible. Additionally, even if we had skipped this show, portions of the park close prior to Disney Dreams due to the fireworks that are used during the show.
Instead, one night after the sunset, we dedicated a couple hours during Disneyland Paris’ operating hours to photography. It felt sort of weird, as it’s not something we normally do, but since photography is an important part of our traveling, it shouldn’t have felt odd. For those of you who are interested in photography, how much of a focus do you put on photography when you travel?
For this photo, I used the Nikon D600 and the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR lens. If you click on the photo to access the EXIF data (one of the best way to learn more about photography is to study others’ EXIF data to reverse-engineer their methodology) you’ll notice that this is a 61 second exposure. That’s not a misprint. Not only was it a 61 second exposure, but I still had to bring out the shadows when I edited it! This area of Frontierland (over by Phantom Manor) was really, really dark. When composing the photo, I intentionally centered my lens in the middle of a bunch of bushes to achieve the natural framing in this shot. I think it gives another layer to the photo without being distracting. As for the floodlights, they don’t really add much to the shot, but who doesn’t love laser-like floodlights?! Given the 61 second exposure, you might assume I used HDR to avoid massively blown highlights. I didn’t. The Nikon D600 is a dynamic range beast, and it allowed me to recover these highlights (although they’re still blown). The f/16 aperture also helped with this.
I posed this question above, but I’m really curious as to how fellow photographers juggle the sight-seeing act with the photographer-act? Do you see less so that you can spend more time taking photos, or do you just quickly snap photos as you are enjoying your experiences? Is photography a key element of your travels? Share your thoughts on this topic of the day…or anything else…in the comments. One lucky commenter might become an expert pianist!