On the First Day of Christmas...

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    (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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    Dann.Gooding, mslalowe, DigitalSLG, and 43 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 7 more comments

    1. Scott Barlow 66 months ago | reply

      Man! You guys get that tree up fast!

      What a beautiful photo Tom. Excellent work!

    2. IceNineJon 66 months ago | reply

      It's great to see the Christmas spirit arrive!

    3. Cory Disbrow 66 months ago | reply

      Viewing this on black is actually inspirational. Absolutely amazing. I'm trying to find a way to fault the image, but I really can't. Enjoy your early start to Christmas, and make sure Sarah knows that Santa needs to bring Tom a 70-200 this Christmas!!

    4. Eugene1959 66 months ago | reply

      Great Christmas shot.

    5. deefordisney 66 months ago | reply

      Love it. Beautiful shot here.

    6. Tom.Bricker 66 months ago | reply

      DugJax On the EPCOT/MK closing night, we literally only had time to do Space Ranger Spin when we got to MK. I'm sure the MK front gate folks wondered what the heck we were doing entering so late. It was worth it, though, because we were still in MK for quite some time!

    7. CodyWDWfan 66 months ago | reply

      Beautiful! If I allowed myself to get into the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving then this would be very heartwarming ;) And it's amazing that you only had to clone out 1 person.

    8. DigitallyDisney 66 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 5 Star Disney (Invited Photos Only), and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    9. Express Monorail 66 months ago | reply

      Beautifully done!

    10. alcanada1 66 months ago | reply

      Wonderful Shot Tom. I worked at Disneyland in the summer of 1979 and closed the Jungle Cruise Ride and was then sent to the Tree House to close it. By the time I was done with the walk through everyone else was out of the park. One of the most special experiences I ever had was walking (slowly) from Adventureland to the back lot all by my lonesome!

    11. Elysia in Wonderland 66 months ago | reply

      Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Disney Fun and Games!, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    12. AmberHeartsDisney 66 months ago | reply

      How do u get such great empty shots of the park?

    13. Todd Hurley Photography 66 months ago | reply

      After trying this last week, I can attest to the difficulty of not getting anyone (especially CMs) in the shot. I was walking out, and CMs were just standing around in the middle of Main Street watching me leave. This is amazing, Tom.

      And closing two parks in one night? Very cool.

      Excellent, excellent shot! Faved.

    14. Jeremy Bischoff 66 months ago | reply

      On the first day of Christmas, Sarah gave to Tom, a 70-200 Vr 2 zoom.

      See, it even goes with the song!

      Seen in a discussion of the group "Disney Photo Challenge" (?)

    15. Photography By Tris 66 months ago | reply

      What a great shot

    16. Tom.Bricker 66 months ago | reply

      j_bischoff Ha, unless Sarah wins the lottery, I don't think that will be happening. We seriously overstretched ourselves with two trips to WDW this year. Sadly, being a student doesn't pay too well!

    17. dragonfyre_13 66 months ago | reply

      GoldMick Congratulations, You're a Disney Photo Challenge Winner!
      Please tag your image DisneyPhotoChallengeWinner and submit your Winning photo to
      Disney Photo Challenge Winner's Pool

    18. WJMcIntosh 66 months ago | reply

      That's a stunning shot, Tom. Almost spooky how there are no people in the shot. Truly a golden moment. Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

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