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Tips for Photographing the Osborne Lights

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hey guys, Cory here this week. And we're going to be sharing with you some tips for photographing the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!

The Osborne Lights are one of my absolute favorite things to see at Walt Disney World. They are nothing short of incredible. So, when I'm there to see them, I want to capture them in photos to the best of my ability. The first tip I can give about not having a hassle when shooting here is to be patient. Head over to the Streets of America nice and early to enjoy the lights being lit. It's an awesome thing to behold. Take in the lights dancing to the great holiday music. But don't even worry about getting a ton of photos yet. After you've enjoyed the lights, I suggest getting a ride on Star Tours or Tower of Terror, which will more than likely have shorter waits at this point of the day and during a less busy time of the season. Then, once some time has passed and it gets to be around an hour before closing time, head back over to the Streets of America. They will more than likely be less crowded, and then it will be easier to setup a tripod (one of the most important tools for shooting these lights) and get some nice shots. Now, I said that a tripod is an important tool. It is very bright in this area, and it is possible to get some handheld shots. But those shots will most likely have noise in them, and we just don't like that. So, I recommend shooting with a tripod. It might be heavy and obtrusive, but you'll be happy once you see your photos. 

That said, the (probable) most popular way to take photos of this display is by going wide. Catch everything you can and enjoy all the amazing colors of the ultra vibrant lights. Shots like this one are ones that people always ooh and ahh over:

I have lots of these types of photos. But, there is so much more to the Osborne Lights that I like to capture as well. These lights are prime targets for what photographers call "bokeh". That refers to out of focus elements in the background. Take this shot for example:

Those little tiny lights make for an absolutely wonderful background. They become big bursts of color that can really make a photo pop. And they are certainly there in an abundance during the holiday season at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This technique is done by shooting with a very wide aperture, or f-stop. Both people with point and shoot and DSLR cameras can do this. Just go into Aperture Priority mode on your camera, which looks like Av on the dial. Then make the f-stop the lowest it can be. In some cases, it would be f/3.5. For others, it could be f/1.4. For the above photo, I was set at f/2 at a focal length of 135mm. By shooting a little tighter, we can also include some cool Streets of America details that are there year round, and "plus them" as Walt would say by adding a cool diffused background via the lights. This is an example of that:

The above shot might be a little dull and mundane any other time of year, but during the holidays, it can be something really special. 

I hope these tips and strategies help you all out on your next trip to the Studios to take in the lights. For more info, make sure to check out www.DisneyPhotographyBlog.com tomorrow where we'll be sharing tips from several different members of the Disney Photo Community about the more technical side of taking photos of this stunning display. Thanks for lookin', and have a great day!!

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About this column

Each week, Adam and Cory explore the beauty of photography in Disney's Hollywood Studios

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