Behind the Best of WDW: Part 1

Our incredible team of photographers here at WDW Magazine recently joined forces to produce the most stunning photo book ever created, capturing the most iconic scenes of the 4 theme parks at Walt Disney World. Join us in this series of blogs that takes a look at just a few of the over 200 photos included in the book as we take you Behind The Best of WDW Volume 1.1

Today we re featuring the work of Mike Billick follow him on Facebook2 for more of his Disney photography!

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 1Lioness on Kilimanjaro Safari Photo by Mike Billick

Join us on a trip through the African savanna for this amazing photograph. Mike shares, One of my favorite things to do at the Animal Kingdom is to photograph the animals in the Kilimanjaro Safaris. There are two times of the day that are perfect times to visit; early morning and early afternoon. You always want to get an end seat so you don t have to shoot over people and have their heads in the way. You want to make sure you not only have a good shot of the animal in your photo but you want to make sure that your background is interesting as well.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 1Big Thunder Mountain Photo by Mike Billick

For the next photograph, Mike takes you on the wildest ride in the wilderness. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a favorite of young and young-at-heart- as a runaway train zips though an abandoned mining town. Legend has it that this was a hopping gold mine in the 1850 s, until it was discovered that the mine was haunted and everyone fled! Walt Disney Imagineering always creates wonderful backstories and Mike Billick captured the excitement of this attraction beautifully.

Mike explains, If any of you out there are impatient like me and hate to wait in long lines, then you find yourself trying to find different ways to pass the time. For this shot of Big Thunder Mountain, I decided to get some use out of the queue while stopped against the railing that looks out over the whole ride. I wanted to make sure that I got the train in the picture-that was the most important aspect. The pools of water on the top and bottom of the image create a great balance. Basically, that was my thought process for this shot.

Camera: Nikon D3200 with a simple kit 18-35 lens
Shutter Speed: 1/500 to keep the train from having motion blur
ISO: 320
Aperture: f11

The processing of the image was about as basic as you can get using Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud). I boosted the saturation a little and hit up the contrast a tad. I also used a shadows and highlights adjustment to boost some of the dark shadows to show more detail.

Overall, this is a really easy shot that anybody can do.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 1

World Showcase Lagoon Photo by Mike Billick

The final picture was taken from the bridge in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot. There are a lot of great things to see around World Showcase Lagoon; drifting in and out of the pavilions isn t all there is to do. Be sure to stop and smell the roses by taking in the view.

Mike says, Every time I visit Epcot, I make it a must to get a sunset shot over the World Showcase Lagoon. Epcot, in my opinion, has some of the best sunsets in all of Walt Disney World hands down. You get these really awesome bright blue and orange skies and the clouds add that dramatic effect that brings it all together. My whole goal for this photo was to capture that perfect sunset with an awesome reflection in the water.

Camera: Nikon D610 with a Sigma 12-24 wide-angle lens
Shutter Speed: 1/60
ISO: 400
Aperture: f4.5

Editing was a little more involved with this shot. It was important to first de-noise the sky so it does not appear to be grainy. Then I used a little saturation to boost the colors in the sky. I wanted to see the building in the background so I did a shadows and highlights adjustment and brought out the dark areas to show more detail.

This is a must-do shot for anybody who loves sunset shots.

Mike certainly offers some great advice for capturing amazing pictures. Next time you re in Walt Disney World, try out some of his tips and see what develops!

The most meaningful souvenir doesn t come from the Emporium on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom or the World of Disney at Downtown Disney.

It comes from the photo memories you capture during your trip to the most magical place on earth.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 1


  1. ^ The Best of WDW Volume 1. (
  2. ^ follow him on Facebook (

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