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How do you not get anyone in the background of your photos in Disneyland? This must be one of the most frequently asked questions we get. People think we use photoshop to remove people from the background. Even though we do on occasion, we do our best at the time of capture to not have to do editing of that sort. So, we shoot with the intention of a clear background from the get-go. Other people think we take photos in the park before it opens but that not that case either. I wish we could… but that is just not the case. We take photos within the Disneyland parks during regular park hours and even on days that the park had to close due to reaching capacity! So how do we get photos with nobody in the background? Could it be luck? Maybe… but is it luck when it can be repeated on a consistent basis? Maybe there is more to it than just plain luck.
We have learned a few techniques to use in order to consistently get images with clean backgrounds. Today we want to share one of them with you.
This one tip has to do with photo equipment; your camera lens to be specific. Your camera lens can be quite a helpful tool to have a clear background when you take photos of your family at the Disney parks. You can use your wide lens to your advantage, to get in close to your subjects and have the crowds pass behind you, or use a zoom lens to compress the background and possibly make people unrecognizable. How’s so? Let’s get into detail!
If you use different lenses, then you know they can give similar photos a very different feeling. It can be the same spot or same subject but depending on the lens you use, it will give your image a different look. Let me share with you the three types of lenses we use to manage the crowds in the Disney parks.
I like to use a wide lens (at least a 24mm) to get close to my subject and not have to deal with people walking in front of my camera. I’m a Nikon photographer, so my ‘go to’ lens is the Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC. In crowded places like Disneyland, sometimes there is not enough room to back up for your photos. You are bumping into other people and if you back up to much, you are leaving too much room for people to walk in front of your camera! How annoying! I love the wide lens because it’s just wide enough without too much barrel distortion in the wide-most images. I can get close enough, get my subject and still plenty of what is going on the background. For instance, in the photo above, I used my wide lens. There was no need to back up so much and I still got quite a view. There was plenty of room behind me for people to walk by so nobody got in my way. I got this beautiful family photo with a great view and no one walked in my photo! For the photo below, I used my wide lens too. Around the carousel, it can get a little crowded, as many of you know. Again, my wide lens allowed me to get in close and still be able to capture what is in the background.
You can also compress the background by using a zoom lens such as this Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens. Compressing the background will give it the background a “blurry” look. What that will do to your photo is make it easier to hide people in the background, behind your subject(s) or just make the background crowd blurry enough that they will not become a distraction in your photo. Sometimes you can’t even tell they are people in the back because they look like they are just patches of blurry color. The photo below was taken with my 85mm portrait lens. You can’t see it very well, but there were people behind this beautiful family. If you look close enough, you can still see some people behind the fountain. However, because I’m compressing the background with my zoom lens, they became less distracting and I was able to hide people behind this family.
Most of the time, nothing beats our Nifty Fifty lens. It’s small, light, and best of all, is more like a you-get-what-you-see kind of lens. What I mean is that with a 50mm lens, there is no “zoomed in” or a wide “zoomed out” look. The focal is smack in the middle so it looks like there are no adjustments at all. We have the Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART in our bag. We can practically do our entire sessions with this one lens.
There are a handful of factors to consider when you want a clear background but if you practice enough, you will get it. Get to know your camera equipment and play around with it. Don’t wait until you are on your vacation to figure out how to use your camera. Start now!
I hope you liked the one secret we shared with you. There are more tips coming your way!
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