Beauty Before and After

Belle Before and After
Belle from Beauty and the Beast in a Princess Cavalcade carriage at Walt Disney World.

Before I get to how I got from the Before and After photos of Princess Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast animated classic, I want to tell you how I got such a lovely photo of her. Back in May of 2021, Walt Disney World was still under many Covid restrictions. One being characters in the park could not Meet and Greet guests has they did before the restrictions.

To give guests some interactions with characters, Disney came up with Character Cavalcades. In Epcot’s World Showcase there were Princess ones with them sitting in a horse drawn carriage and waving to guests from a distance. I got in position with my Nikon D750 camera with my goto park lens, the Nikon 28-300VR. As I always do for outdoor photos of people outdoors during the day, I used Fill Flash to fill in the shadows and create catchlights in the subject’s eyes.

As you can see in the Before (photo on the left) the top of Belle’s hair was hard to see against the dark trim inside the carriage. I recently came across a youTube video about a Lightroom Classic process to separate her from the busy background.

Quickly, it goes like this…First I used Lightroom’s Select Subject AI to select Belle. Then I inverted that mask so that everything was selected except Belle. Here is where the magic happens, Then, I selected Invert Mask with Radial Gradient and created an oval around Belle. This selected only the background behind Belle within the radial. Then I decreased the Dehaze and Contrast sliders of the Radial Gradient until the background softened and lightened behind Belle without affecting her. Finished with a crop and other minor adjustments.

Belle in a Princess Cavalcade
Belle from Beauty and the Beast in a Princess Cavalcade around World Showcase at Epcot in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV +0.3, Fill Flash, 135mm Focal Length.

However, it may be easier to just watch the video. I used the first technique Mark McGee shows but will be looking to use the other two when I take an image which could be improved using them.

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View 460: Carpenter Falls

Last week I noticed an Instagram post by Matt Champlin about the Carpenter Falls Unique Area reopening with a new overlook platform. Never having visited there, I immediately planned to get there to check it out. Below is the result.

Carpenter Falls on Bear Swamp Creek
Carpenter Falls on Bear Swamp Creek in the Carpenter Falls Unique Area near Niles, New York on Saturday, September 10, 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/3s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, ND8, Tripod.

The overlook platform gives an unobstructed view of Carpenter Falls. The trees even make a natural frame of the scene. It was mid-afternoon with a cloudy sky to give even lighting. To get the look I wanted, I placed a 3-Stop Neutral Density filter on my lens to cut down the light even more. To keep the camera steady for the 1/3rd second exposure, I put it on a tripod and used a remote shutter. I performed some dodging and burning in Adobe Lightroom Classic to highlight the falls even more.

There were a few people moving about the Bear Swamp Creek and even getting in behind the falls. To show scale, I decided to take a photo with a couple of them looking up at the 90 foot (27m) drop of Carpenter Falls.

Looking up at Carpenter Falls
People look up at the Carpenter Falls on Bear Swamp Creek in the Carpenter Falls Unique Area near Niles, New York on Saturday, September 10, 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/3s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, Tripod

I was impressed by the work of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) who administers Unique Areas. There is a nice easy 5 minute walk from the parking lot on a boardwalk leading to the overlook which is fully Handicap/Wheelchair Accessible. There is an Acrylic panel in the middle of the fencing allowing people in wheelchairs a clear view of the waterfall.

Carpenter Falls Overlook
Carpenter Falls Overlook platform in the Carpenter Falls Unique Area near Niles, New York on Saturday, September 10, 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/15s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, Tripod.

For anyone living or visiting the Finger Lakes region of New York, Carpenter Falls is a beautiful and easily viewed waterfall which is often bypassed for the more famous ones in Ithaca and Watkins Glen.

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Disney+Cruising

As you can image, the last two years have been rough on the Travel Industry. My wife, Merrie, basically had her business of selling Disney trips stop for months in 2020 and very limited in 2021. It wasn’t until this year has travel started to comeback. It was especially hard on Cruise Ship companies including the Disney Cruise Line.

With Disney lifting the previous requirement of having to pass a Covid test before being allowed on the ship for people with proof of vaccination, Disney has decided to do a little synergy with the streaming service, Disney+. If you are a family or group of four AND a Disney+ subscriber, read on.

If you can travel between January and April of 2023 and will be traveling with a group of four in a single stateroom on either the Disney Magic, Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, two members of your party will travel for FREE! This includes 3, 4 and 7 night cruises. There are some blackout dates.

The price of a cruise includes ALL your meals and non-alcoholic beverages. Meals range from restaurants to quick service locations. You can even order one of everything or try multiple desserts. Not that I ever did that (smilies innocently). And how about those Ports of Call?

Depending on the itinerary, Ports of Call could be Nassau, Bahamas for some shopping at the famous Straw Market, explore Mayan ruins at Costa Maya, enjoy entertainment in Cozumel and there is always a stop and maybe two at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Interested? If you wish to take advantage of this deal, contact Merrie at her email address below. Tell her I sent ya!

If you are interested in more information on a Disney Cruise Line vacation, contact my wife by clicking her email address below merrie@dreamsunlimitedtravel.com 

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant
Merrie with her favorite Disney character, Donald Duck.

She has been booking and planning Disney trips and cruises for satisfied travelers exclusively for over 20 years.

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View 459: A Day at the New York State Fair

This year’s New York State Fair finally felt more normal after it being cancelled in 2020 and not running at full song in 2021. While some vendors have decided not to come back and a couple of my favorites which had been there for years disappeared, still 2020 felt like The Fair (as we refer to it around here) got back on its feet.

My wife and I started the day with breakfast at JJ’s on Restaurant Row before heading over to the Dairy Building for a Labor Day weekend treat, strawberry milk from the Milk Bar.

Strawberry Milk from the Milk Bar
Filled strawberry milk cups at the Milk Bar inside the Dairy Building at the New York State Fair near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, September 4 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/30s, f/5.6, ISO 400, 46mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

This year’s sculptures, Sand and Butter, celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the passing of Title IX which gave women in collegiate sports more opportunities and funding.

NY State Fair Sculptures
The Sand and Butter sculptures at this year’s New York State Fair celebrated 50 years of Title IX near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, September 4 2022.

Animals are a big part of the New York State Fair from livestock being showed off by farms around New York to championship horses from all over the Northeast and Midwest to the small creatures like this little bunny.

Bunny in the Poultry Building
Bunny inside the Poultry Building at the New York State Fair near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, September 4 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/100s, f/8, ISO 12800, 92mm Focal Length.

Labor Day weekend features a big show for Draft Horses with money, prestige and valuable points for the farms who bring in their big rigs of Belgians, Clydesdales and Percherons.

Percheron Draft Horses
Percheron Draft Horses showing inside the Coliseum at the New York State Fair near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, September 4 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/4, ISO 11400, 24mm Focal Length.

We ended our day back on Restaurant Row for fish sandwiches and a side of Cordon Bleu deep-fried balls at Horan’s. Yes, they were as good as you can imagine.

Horan's on Restaurant Row
Horan’s on Restaurant Row at the New York State Fair near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, September 4 2022. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/200s, f/8, ISO 1250, 24mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

All in all, it was a good Fair this year. While attendance was not up to pre-Covid levels, the momentum has certainly swung in the right direction. Looking forward to 2023 and beyond.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad photographed from the Liberty Belle Riverboat at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Sunday, May 23, 2021.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 100, 38mm Focal Length.

Disney photographers are always looking for a new angle of Walt Disney World attractions. For this view of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom, I took a ride on the Liberty Belle Riverboat. As the riverboat glides slowly, I was able to capture one of the ride vehicles careening around a bend.

If you are interested in more information on a Disney Cruise Line vacation, contact my wife by clicking her email address below merrie@dreamsunlimitedtravel.com 

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant
Merrie with her favorite Disney character, Donald Duck.

She has been booking and planning Disney trips and cruises for satisfied travelers exclusively for over 20 years.

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