View 452: Christmas Trees of Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World goes all out for the Christmas Holiday including fabulous Christmas tree displays in their themeparks. These are the displays from December of 2019.

While you may not see the Magic Kingdom Christmas tree on the annual televised parade down Main Street USA on Christmas morning, the tree is in the square when the the cameras are not rolling.

Magic Kingdom Christmas Tree
Christmas tree on Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, December 4, 2019. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

Over in Epcot, the tree is found at the start of World Showcase when using the walkway from Future World. It features decorations from all the countries surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon.

Epcot Christmas Tree
The World Showcase Christmas tree at night in Epcot during the International Festival of the Holidays in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Friday, December 6, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/3.5, ISO 6400, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Christmas tree used to be located outside the entrance until a couple of years ago when they moved it to an island on Echo Lake. Last year, I overstayed my welcome and hung out late until the lake became a mirror on a warm, calm night.

Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Christmas Tree reflected in Echo Lake at night in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Thursday, December 5, 2019. Nikon D750/16-35VR, 5s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, Cropped.

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Christmas tree remains outside the park as not to upstage all the beautiful trees within. It features ornaments of all the animal and bird species found inside the park. Underneath the tree are unique gifts with famous animal Disney characters like Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet.

Animal Kingdom Christmas Tree
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Christmas tree at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida on Sunday, December 8, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/250s, f/8, ISO 100, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length.

If there is a common theme among the featured Christmas trees of each park, it is Big to fit the size of Walt Disney World. Guests enjoy all the trees and love to get their photos taken with them to create family memories for years to come.

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

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant

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

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View 451: Autumn’s Last Gift

Autumn of 2020 in upstate New York has been spectacular. Even after the colors had faded and most of the leaves had fallen, Autumn had one last gift.

A few days of 70 degree F (21 C) days dried up the fallen leaves making them perfect for the age old joy of jumping and playing in a pile of them. Add in a couple of children (aka my Grandson and Granddaughter) and one has the makings for beautiful Autumn portraits.

Autumn Portrait 1
Boy in a pile of Autumn leaves in Baldwinsville, New York on Monday, November 9 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 360, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

Well, my Granddaughter did not want her brother to have all the fun and joined him.

Autumn Portrait 2
Brother and Sister in a pile of Autumn leaves in Baldwinsville, New York on Monday, November 9 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/320s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 62mm Focal Length, Fill Flash.

Notice how I used Fill Flash to fill in the shadows with the Sun behind them allowing them to have their eyes open. It creates lovely catch lights in their eyes, too.

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

Walt Disney World Travel Consultant

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

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View 450: Green Lakes State Park in HDR

Last week I shared photos from Green Lakes State Park from a beautiful Autumn day. As I walked around the Green Lake Trail a few minutes after sunrise, I found some locations had a lot of shadowed areas and bright sunlit areas. While digital cameras can capture a wide range of light these locations went beyond what my Nikon D750 could handle.

Eastern Shore of Green Lake
Eastern shore on Green Lake in Autumn at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

That is when I take a set of photos to cover the range which is called bracketing. The Nikon D750 has a bracketing button which sets the number of exposures and the range using Exposure Value (EV) settings. I often use -2EV to +2EV in 1 stop intervals.

Deadman's Reef on Green Lake
Deadman’s Point “reef” pokes up out of the water on Green Lake in Autumn at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

Those five photos allow me to capture details in the dark shadows and the bright highlights. Something our eyes do easily but takes a bit of digital wizardly on a computer.

White Cedar on the Shore of Green Lake
Gnarled White Cedar wood along the shore of Green Lake in Autumn at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/16-35VR, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

In my case, I use an Adobe Lightroom plug-in from Skylum called Aurora HDR app. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Aurora HDR brings in all five photos and merges them together. It has many pre-sets to choose from which I browse through until I get something close to what I envisioned the final image would look like. From there I finish off the image in Lightroom.

Bench on Green Lake
A bench overlooking Green Lake Fall colors at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon 16-35VR, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 19mm Focal Length, Tripod, HDR Image.

In the case of the image with the bench, it was really dark. To insure I got the whole range, I increased the EV range to -3EV to +3EV with 7 photos. I was really glad I did as the bench area came out very detailed while keeping the bright colorful trees in the background perfectly exposed.

Hope you enjoyed these photographs and, if you are a digital photographer, I hope I gave you some inspiration to try HDR processing.

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View 449: Green Lake Autumn Reflections

Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York has perhaps the most studied meromictic lake (one in which layers of water do not mix) in the world in Green Lake creating unusual blue-green color to the water. This time of year, the surrounding old growth forests add other colors to the lake.

Green Lake at Green Lakes State Park
Autumn trees reflect on Green Lake at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/8s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 38mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Like Beaver Lake Nature Center I visited the day before, the trees around Green Lake were at peak color last weekend. I circumnavigated around Green Lake on a popular trail I shared with joggers, runners, walkers and a few fellow photographers on a cool morning. The trail had many locations to view the beauty of the Autumn season.

Reflection in Green Lake
Autumn tree reflection in Green Lake at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/10s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Circular Polarizing Filter, Tripod.

A slight breeze kept the water of Green Lake from becoming a mirrored surface, I still found places where the water reflected the trees and sky beautifully. The use of a Circular Polarizing Filter helped to cut out the glare.

Autumn at Green Lakes State Park
Autumn trees reflected on Green Lake at Green Lakes State Park near Syracuse, New York on Sunday, October 18, 2020. Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/5s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Circular Polarizing Filter, Tripod.

The Green Lake Trail is 1.9 miles long and flat which made for a nice easy walk and shoot through a spectacular Autumn day.

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View 448: Beaver Lake Nature Center Trails

It is peak Autumn color around Central New York right now. I grabbed my camera and favorite walk about lens and headed out early to walk the trails at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, New York last weekend. The weather was near perfect for mid-October with a slight breeze, blue sky and temperatures rising from the mid-30s to the mid-50s (Fahrenheit) during my visit.

I first trekked out to my favorite, the Bog Trail. This is a short walk out and back with boardwalks through a northern bog. This time of year, the plants and trees turn all kinds of colors like these Flowering Dogwood leaves.

Autumn Dogwood Leaves
Flowering Dogwood leaves (Cornus florida) along the Bog Trail at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/4, ISO 180, EV +0.3, 120mm Focal Length.

The Lakeview Trail is a short loop which leads out to Beaver Lake Nature Center’s own Inspiration Point. Here I had wonderful side lighting on the beautiful colors of the maple and oak trees found along the shore of the lake.

Inspiration Point at Beaver Lake Nature Center
View from Inspiration Point on the Lakeview Trail at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/10s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 50mm Focal Length.

The Deep Woods Trail is a 1.4 mile (2.3 kms) walk which goes just off the lake before looping back through an old growth forest. Along the way I looked for images which said “Autumn” to me. I found it on a moss covered log on the ground as these two maple leaves had fallen on. Here nature is slowly breaking down the log to become future fertilizer for new growth. The leaves indicate a quicker seasonal change from Autumn towards Winter.

Mossy Log
Leaves on a mossy log along the Deep Woods Trail at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, ISO 6300, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length.

The last trail I walked was a short 1/2 mile loop called the Pine Meadow Trail. It skirts a meadow surrounded by an old Red Pine plantation. I choose this High Dynamic Range image to show you the trail going between the rows of the pine trees. This trail filled the air with the smells of pine.

Pine Meadow Trail
Pine Meadow Trail at Beaver Lake Nature Center near Baldwinsville, New York on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Nikon D750/24-120VR, f/16, ISO 3200, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

With all the shadows mixed in with bright sunlight and sky, I knew I would need a set of photos to cover the range from -2EV to +2EV. Skylum’s Aurora 2019 HDR software merged those photos to create this image.

Autumn in Central New York gave me a bountiful treat of warm sunny days to enjoy and a rainbow of colors to photograph.

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