DisneyWorld Fireworks: Attempt #1

Cinderella's Castle before the fireworks at DisneyWorld

17mm, f/16, ISO 200, 60s

We arrived at DisneyWorld on Friday afternoon, and I took my first shot at the fireworks that night. I hate crowds, and the thick streams of people at DisneyWorld for a 10:00 p.m. fireworks show over Cinderella’s Castle is mind-numbing and crushing. But I learned that if you walk behind the castle, things clear up pretty quickly, even if it’s only a half hour before the show. There’s a line drawn between the carousel and Snow White’s Scary Adventure ride. I got a good spot right behind that line.

Veteran Disney-goers already see my mistake here.

I spent the time waiting for the show to start by training my camera on the castle and practicing my night photography, taking long exposure shots of the castle with my 17-35mm lens. I was using an ND filter lens to help cut down on almost a full stop of light. I had that to help with my fireworks shooting, but I practiced with it on the non-moving castle, anyway.

And then the fireworks finally began. Behind me.

You see, the fireworks look like they come off right behind the castle, but that obviously isn’t so. There are too many attractions there. They’re really shot off some distance behind that, behind the big walls that hide the giant construction project that is Fantasy Land. The foreworks go off in the sky there. There are some smaller parts of the show that get lit off closer to the castle, right in front of where I stood, but you couldn’t time those unless you knew exactly when they were coming.

Fireworks at DisneyWorld

19mm, f/16, ISO 200, 10s

So, feeling stupid and sheepish, I spun my camera/tripod around and aimed at the sky above me and practiced shooting purely fireworks, without anything else in the shot.

Except the backs of the heads of the crowd that stood there, too close for me to get their heads out of frame while keeping the light show in the frame.


Fireworks over DisneyWorld

24mm, f/16, ISO 200, 22s

Lesson learned. I’d have my next shot at it a couple nights later. That one worked out better, though it was the first time in the trip that I wanted to start throwing elbows and punches around to block out pushy people who deserved a good slapping.

But that’s not The Disney Way, so we likely won’t speak of it again.

After the fireworks at DisneyWorld

19mm, f/18, ISO 200, 20s

Coming up someday soon: Attempt #2 at fireworks, in which I stand in front of the castle and still almost miss the fireworks wide right. But the pics are much better, I promise.

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