Behind the Best of WDW: Part 2

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 Matthew Cooper follow him on Facebook2 for more of his Disney photography!

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 2Tower of Terror- Photo by Matthew Cooper

The Hollywood Tower Hotel is probably one of the most photographed buildings at Disney s Hollywood Studios. As the anchor attraction of Sunset Boulevard, this haunted elevator ride really comes to life at night, which can make for an incredible image. But how can you get an eerily empty street when it s usually jam-packed? Matthew Cooper let s you in on his secret technique.

The Tower of Terror shot was done with the Nikon D810 and Nikon 70-200 2.8 VRII. The challenge with actually shooting this shot, like all my shots, was waiting so I could get an image free of people. Shooting with the 70-200 down the street to compress the space meant I needed a really long stretch of the street to be clear. I waited until I was practically the only one left on the street for this shot.

If you have a lot of patience, it looks like an empty street shot is worth the wait. But how can two separate shots become one? Matthew reveals, It was a multi-shop bracket blended in Photomatix and edited in Photoshop. Editing was pretty straight forward and mostly involved masking in an under-exposure to fix highlights and doing some color balancing work.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 2Morocco- Photo by Matthew Cooper

Tucked between Japan and France, Morocco in Epcot s World Showcase is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps this is because it lacks an attraction to lure more people in; however, the architecture of the marketplace shouldn t be missed. The elegance of this area really comes out at night, and Matthew seems to have found the perfect angle to capture Morocco s beauty.

For the Camel in the Night shot I was going for a shot of the area free of people. Doing this in Epcot has gotten a lot easier in recent years because of all the late and after hour events happening. I was able to shoot away in this area and several other World Showcase countries alone for about 1 1/2 hours.

I shot with the Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24 2.8. The great thing about the 14-24 is it allowed me to get really close to the camel and use it in the foreground to sort of lead into the scene. Again this was a multi-exposure blend in Photomatix that was finished in Photoshop. Most of the work was again using masks to fix highlights and color balancing work.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 2Dinoland USA- Photo by Matthew Cooper

The final photograph once again reinforces the old saying good things come to those who wait. Matthew has captured a rare deserted image of Dinoland U.S.A. at Disney s Animal Kingdom at twilight. This area is usually hopping all day long with people playing games, shopping, and taking a spin back in time on Primeval Whirl.

I wanted to use the road to lead the eye into the image so I shot very low to the ground. I shot with the Nikon D800 and Nikon 14-24 2.8.

This blue hour shot was especially challenging to get people free due to the location. This was taken when the park was still open and so the bathrooms on the right were getting steady traffic. Also, the end of the street often has Cast Members coming and going to and from backstage. To combat this I actually took multiple brackets that I manually blended together to get a people-free image.

I then ran those blends through Photomatix. Matthew has offered great insight on taking some amazing people-free photographs at Walt Disney World. Even if you don t have the professional equipment that Matthew has, he shared two pieces of information that anyone can use. First, if you want it to seem like you are the only one in the park, wait it out. Guests will eventually exit the park, leaving you to take some great pictures. Second, try taking your photographs from different angles to gain a fresh perspective.

Taking pictures is a great souvenir that allows you to take your magical memories home with you. Don t be afraid to take a lot of pictures and try new things. Not returning to Disney anytime soon? That s okay, we ve put together hundreds of our favorite pictures of Walt Disney World, just for you.

Behind The Best Of WDW: Part 2


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

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