On the First Day of Christmas...

(Been away for a while--bear with me as I ramble through an exceptionally long caption today...or just ignore it and enjoy the image).


Today marked the start of Christmas season in our household. The tree is up, the myriad of other decorations we have are up, we will be sitting down this evening to watch Elf and The Muppet Christmas Carol, and late this evening, I will be taking the first pictures of our Christmas tree.


This season could not have started soon enough for me. I have been waiting all year to post my Christmas pictures, although since the August and October trips, I think I am now less impressed with a lot of these Christmas shots, and I have been editing them for a couple of weeks now. Today's picture is one of my favorites. I know it is nothing all that great photography-wise, but I love it because it captures my favorite feeling of Christmas at Disney so well: being alone in the parks, hearing that background music blast overheard (it's really quite loud when there is no one else around), and just taking in the lights. I actually posted a very similar shot last year (from a different evening), but I decided to edit and post this shot because it is much wider and I think it shows just how much my editing skills have improved over the last year. I previously overlooked this shot last year because I didn't shoot this one as well "the first time" as the linked shot, and because that shot had slight reflections, which I like. So for this shot to start out worse than the linked shot but, in my opinion, finish better, says a lot.


Another reason I liked this wide angle view is that it shows something few, if any, other wide shots of large areas I've ever taken have accomplished: it has no people in it. I would be hard pressed to replicate this shot. Even when we're the last guests out of the parks, the place is always crawling with Cast Members. How all of them (besides one single person, who I clone stamped out) are absent from this shot boggles my mind. Finally, reviewing these shots allowed me to reminisce about another feat we haven't accomplished since the Christmas trip: closing two parks in the same evening. That trip, we closed both the Studios and MK the first night, EPCOT and MK the second night, and MK alone the final two nights. For some reason, I'm quite proud of closing two parks in a night. Most people probably don't care...


Okay, that's definitely more than enough tooting my own horn. Now, for the faults that these shots from last Christmas have taught me. First, that the 18-200 lens with filter attached is not as sharp as any of my other lenses. Now, I am hardly a pixel peeper, but in some of my older shots, this really is problematic, especially when compared to similar shots from other lenses. It also makes my lust for a 70-200 all the greater (and that's not good). Moreover, with a f/5.6 aperture at 200mm, I don't have much control of depth of field (you'll see this in subsequent shots). Second, that my compositional eye had not evolved as much from August to November of 2008 as I had thought it had. In looking at these shots, a lot of them are still plain "here's a building with no people around" or snapshot type shots. A lot of them are not shots like that, but too many suffer from that problem. It's still a problem I have, but I'm hoping to correct it. Given these problems, I tried to process many of the shots in unique ways, so maybe that will help.


Anyway, enough commentary for today. Time to head off and enjoy Christmastime!


Check out this article on my blog if you're interested in tips for visiting Walt Disney World at Christmas or seeing tons more Christmas photos!


View my Disney Photo Gallery for thousands of Disney photos that aren't on Flickr!


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Taken on November 29, 2008