Monday, 17 September 2018

When I say beginners here people, I mean beginners!

Before my last trip to WDW I invested in a pretty decent camera, my Sony Alpha A5000 pictured above. The primary reason was because I wanted to start vlogging my trips and secondary I wanted to get some really good pictures.

Do you need to fork out £500 to get some good pics of your time in the parks, HELL NO YOU DON'T, and unless you are sure you can afford it and do your research first then don't rush into anything.

I am seeing more and more people posting amazing pictures taken with iPhones and other smart phones for that matter. There really is no need to rush into buying anything expensive.

Here are my top tips for photography/using a camera in the parks.

Understand Your Equipment

Whether you are using your iPhone 10, or the latest canon, then make sure you actually know how to use it. There is no point spending a fortune on a camera if all you are going to do is turn it on and point and shoot. Now you might get some pretty decent photos still, but you can do that with any camera or phone.

I bought my camera about 6 months before my trip and took it on numerous outings and trips to get used to using it and using its controls and different settings. Read the manual, watch youtube vlogs and play around with it.

A lot of cameras will now auto set to what they think is best for the shot but depending on how you want the photo to look you may want to manually set your camera. All of my best shots were generally done by me playing around with different settings rather than automatic ones.

Filters Are Your Friend

Even if you take a snap that you aren't 100% happy with or is perhaps a bit dark or grainy, try not to just delete it straight away. You might be able to save it with a filter. 
So many snaps can be saved with a monochrome filter in my eyes. Theres something really beautiful about seeing a place in the Disney parks you love, without an colour. It helps you focus on other things than just the bright and beautiful colours. 

Instagram also has some really good pre set filters which I always test out before I post to see if I can improve my own pics at all. 

Dont Run out of Power 

There is absolutely nothing worse than running out of battery whilst at the parks. Imagine waiting all day for happily ever after and then your battery dying just as it starts!

If you are using a proper camera then I suggest taking a fully charged battery plus a spare fully charged battery every day. If you are vlogging you will need to increase this. I was taking 3 batteries every day and although I didn't always get onto the third one it was used a few times and I am so glad I had them all. This is the back up pack and charger I bought of amazon before my trip for only £30!

I found these ravpower ones to be excellent, but make sure you check what fits your camera.

If you are using a phone you may want to purchase a power pack before your trip or alternatively you can purchase a fuel rod from various locations throughout the parks. This re charges your mobile device and when the rod is empty you simply return its and get a freshly charged fuel rod so you literally cannot run out of battery on your phone.

Fuel rods currently cost £30 and are a great idea particularly if you plan to go again the year after .... and the year after, as you only pay once!

Memory That Last A Lifetime

Undoubtedly you will make some fantastic memories on your trip, but you are going to need somewhere to store them all and you do not want to be a week into your trip and realise you are out of memory.

Make sure you clear any old pics on your phone onto a hard drive or computer before you go and if you are taking a proper camera, take more memory than you think you will need. 

Memory cards will last a life time if looked after properly and so although they can be pricey, should be treated as a real investment. 

If you are planning on vlogging you will need to take your memory cards a little more seriously as the recording quality can be affected by low quality cards which will result in unclear, grainy and even unusable footage. 

I use SanDisk Extreme Plus cards for vlogging and photography and on my last trip I took 2 x 64gb cards, 1 x 32gb card and a 16gb card as well. This was for a 2 week trip and I pretty much filled every last megabyte. Honestly next time I will probably invest in another 64gb as I plan on getting a lot more general footage of the parks to make my vlogs better but I hope this gives you an idea of what you might need.

Try a Tripod

I dont mean you have to carry a 5 foot pole around all day with you, but honestly I wouldn't visit the parks now without my Manfrotto pixie tripod (buy here). 

I used my tripod for vlogging but I actually find it more comfortable to take pics holding the tripod as well. Cameras can be small and I am always a little scared of just dropping mine, but the legs on the pixie fold together to become a grip and I personally feel more in control holding this rather than gripping around the camera. 

The tripod can also be used to get into some awkward spaces. I am pretty short so I used it to get that little bit higher at times, to lift my camera above crowds or to tilt it around corners without having to be a professional contortionist. 

A tripod is also non negotiable if you are wanting to get some of those cool motion shots or time lapses as you will need the camera to be completely still and even the slightest movement from touching the camera can ruin a shot like this.

For those of you just using your smart phones I would still say to get some sort of grip or holder. It really gives you stability and I always like to keep a device out the majority of the time as you never know what you might see...

Lets get a little deeper into it now, these next tips are for those of you using an actual camera, and will hopefully explain how to get some super shots without confusing you.

Before we move on I want you to try and get to grips with these 2 key phrases:

Exposure: This one is easy to understand. It is simply how long the lens is exposed to what you are shooting. In other words time. If your exposure is 6" this means 6 seconds. The shutter will be open for 6 seconds and the lens will capture anything in those 6 seconds. 
If it says 1/200 then the shutter will be open for 1 x 200th of a second (pretty fast) and will only capture whatever happens in that time. 

Aperture: This one refers to how much light your camera lens lets in. But just to be confusing, the smaller the number the more light the camera lets in, and the bigger the number the less it will let in. Play around with this. You will quickly see on your camera playback screen it gets darker and lighter accordingly. 

Got it? Right then lets crack on...

Take Your Time

So as I mentioned above if you want to shoot some cool time lapses or motion shots you really will need a tripod (and some patience) but apart from that, these shots are easier than you would think to capture. 

Its all about the shutter speed here (exposure) because its how long the lens is open for basically. I always like to think about how fast the thing is that I am taking a photo of. You kinda need to imagine how far it moves or travels in say 1 second, 5 seconds etc.

You will need to go into manual settings here rather than superior auto or night mode etc and 

For something like a waterfall on spaceship earth that is constantly moving, a 1 second exposure can be enough to capture the flow nicely because in one second there is a lot of movement in that water. For a picture of the teacups you will need longer as they will only move a fraction in 1 second so you wouldn't get much blurring at all. 

My top tip is to take numerous pictures and go for a slightly longer exposure each time until you get the desired effect.

If you are taking a long exposure shot, you will need to set up your camera/tripod somewhere really stable and make sure you don't touch it whilst shooting as any movements during those 3, 6 or even 12 seconds will come out on the image. If you can control your camera with a remote or through your phone like mine then even better. You don't even have to press the button which can be enough to cause a shaky final shot. 

The opposite end of this is maybe on a moving ride like the people mover where you want to get a picture of a scene or specific object as you go past. You will need to change it to a fraction of a second. Maybe 250/1 or whatever your camera will go down to in order to try and minimise any blurring.

At Last I See The Light 

Now lets talk aperture. As I explained above this is all about how much light the lens takes in.

You will most likely want to adjust this when taking pictures at night or on dark rides in order to try to capture what the eye is actually seeing but its not just that simple.

You can put the aperture to the lowest setting (letting in the most light) but this is going to compromise the quality of the shot. You will most likely get a grainy image that looks like it was taken on a Motorola razr flip phone (not as old as me, google this bad boy). You have to strike a balance and depending on how good your camera is depends on what you can capture.

For example with my camera, I am always going to struggle to take pictures inside the haunted mansion, its just too dark and combine this with the movement of the ride, virtually impossible. My camera is good, but not that good!

You may also need to adjust your aperture when taking long exposure shots (we talked about these above). The reason for this being, the camera lens is open a longer time, therefore letting a lot of light in. Try setting your camera to its longest exposure now, something over 10 seconds. Your screen right now is probably bright white and you can't actually distinguish anything in the shot. Thats because the camera is letting in so much light so to counter balance this you will have to adjust your aperture to a higher setting (letting in less light). Makes sense?

The 1 second exposure in this photo made the shot really light but if you adjust your aperture you can counterbalance some (not all) of this, see below

Dont Be Afraid to Edit

When I first got my camera, I couldn't understand why people with the same camera or similar camera were able to get such vibrant and better pictures compared to me. 
Then I learned that even the greats edit their pics!

More and more as time goes on I like to think of photography as art and art is about expressing yourself. I love editing and tweaking my pics almost as much as I enjoy taking them. 

Its completely up to you how much you edit or don't edit. A little crop here or a contrast tweak there can really make your images pop. I personally like to make my pictures as vibrant as possible to really try and show what the eye sees when you are in the parks so I'm not afraid to turn it up a few notches but this part is completely up to you. 

Just have fun with it and try out different apps until you find one that works for you. I have had lots of fun just editing on my Mac book which has some really good settings built into the photo album. 

The above image is perfectly fine, but a little tweaking really makes the colours pop, below.

I hope you have found this blog useful, I know when I first got my camera I could have really done with something to make it all a lot simpler. Even posts 'for beginners' were confusing to me. 

If you have a tip yourself or any questions please leave a comment below or you can always DM mean Instagram and I will be sure to get back to you!

K x 


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