When we got back from Orlando I had a couple of days off before I had to go to work. So I figured that while I was getting up nice and early (due to the time difference) I’d go and shoot a sunrise over Seattle.

Now sunrise shots in summer suck as you have to get up at like 4am! But I did it and got all my gear together and headed off to the city.

Question was where to go?

To really get the sun over the city I’d have to go over the West Seattle to Alki Beach or something, but I’d done that before.

So this time I thought I’d try Kerry Park to shoot the city skyline as the sun came up on the left. Sure I wouldn’t get the sun in the shot, but I should see some nice light over the city as the sun broke over the horizon. At least that was the plan!

I got there with plenty of time and set up with my 18-135 lens and started taking pictures before the sun came up.

At first it looked like I was going to get some great shots, but as the sun started to provide more light it became clear that while the city looked great (really good visibility) there was a lot of low cloud cover.

The light was nice but I wasn’t going to get the spectacular shots I was hoping for.

Still, this is what can (and usually does) happen with landscape photography. The answer is to keep going and see what you can get.

So I stuck around for about two hours taking pictures while the sun rose and you can see some nice light hitting the buildings on the left.

Before I left I thought I’d try something a little different.

In Kerry Park, right by the location where people shoot the city is a large piece of modern art. I don’t really know what it is but it’s basically a big square thing with round holes all around it.

I was wondering what a picture of the Space Needle would look like if I shot through the statue.

So I moved my tripod and set up for the shot.

Ironically this is my favorite picture of the day, so I included that too.

When I got home I looked at all the images of the city and while they were nice none of them really jumped out and grabbed me! So I decided to add a few filters in Lightroom (no Photoshop here) with a little bit of dual tone action. I added some contrast and clarity and got an image I liked.

So that’s the one I’m sharing with you today.

Why oh why would anyone go to Orlando in July I hear you ask? Great question. The answer is of course because that’s when the kids are off school :-(

Sure it would be great to go in November or February, but we wanted to go for two weeks and with children in High School and Middle School you just can’t do that.

So Lisa planned this great vacation to Florida in what was probably the hottest month of the year.

The question is, did we have fun? Bloody right we did :-)

For those who haven’t done this foolish vacation in July, I’ll explain the problem.

Firstly it’s hot. Now that in itself isn’t an issue, I mean when you go on vacation you want it to be hot right? The trouble is this isn’t really a “sit by a pool and read a book” vacation. This is a vacation where you are walking for around 14 miles a day around amusement parks packed with people.

I know what you’re thinking. “Hang on, that’s not so bad, I mean a bit of heat is OK, just drink water and wear sunscreen”. All true, but it’s not just the heat!

At this time of year the humidity is insane! It’s like walking through water.

Basically early morning it’s great. Really lovely outside. That is until around 10am. Then it starts to get “sticky”. This stickiness increases until by 2pm you are just miserable. All sweaty, uncomfortable and just feeling yuk.

You also can’t breath as it’s just nasty outside, it feels like it’s about to poor with rain.

That is until 4pm when the skies open and torrential rain comes down. Now I live in Seattle and it rains here, but not like it does in Florida.

In fact I think it rains more in one day in Florida that it does in a month in Seattle! It’s like someone pores a bucket of water over your head, continually for an hour!

So you get wet running from ride to ride. And this would be (you’d think) ok, coz it’s still warm outside, heck even the water is warm. But when you get to the ride, you walk into a heavily air conditioned line and your nipples fall off.

Fun eh?

So you keep going until you can’t stand it no more – one day we stayed until 1am.

Then you go back to your hotel and shower and feel amazing. But then you have to go out again to get some dinner.

I know I’m making this sound like some kind of torture, and in some ways it kind’a is, but the good news is you laugh A LOT and have a great time.

Lisa got us an apartment at a golf resort called “Reunion” here’s a link so you can check it out. It was basically FANTASTIC.

We had a three bedroom apartment and the resort had 9 different pools and a water park with a slide and lazy river!

It was also five miles from Disney so getting to the parks was super quick.

So what did we do while we were there?

We visited:

  • Disney Magic Kingdom twice
  • Disney Epcot twice
  • Disney Hollywood Studios once
  • Disney Animal Kingdom once
  • Downtown Disney twice
  • Universal Studios twice
  • Universal Islands of Adventure twice
  • Universal City Walk twice
  • Busch Gardens once
  • So we were pretty busy :-)

So what did we like?

The Magic Kingdom was (as always) great. I don’t care how old you are, you just have a great time walking around the park. Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Buzz Light year, It’s a Small World are our favorites.

Epcot I think is our favorite park. We loved it there so went twice. Just walking around the world sampling different foods was great fun and we had a blast with the different attractions.

Hollywood Studios was a bit of a let down. I seem to remember this being better but we didn’t have a great time there.

Animal Kingdom was great and Abi and I had a lot of fun on some of the water rides getting totally soaked. Also the safari drive around the park was super cool. I got loads of great pics on that but didn’t include them coz once you’ve seen an elephant…

Downtown Disney was a bit of a mess this year. They are carrying out some MAJOR refurbishment and there were road works everywhere and parking was a bit of a mess. I’m sure it will be great when it’s complete but I think they are easily a year away. Still we visited our favorite shops and stocked up the kitchen with new cups.

Universal should really be re-named “Harry Potter World” as that’s what it’s becoming. Now if you are not a potter fan you shouldn’t go (I think) but if you like it – wow it’s just amazing.

They’ve build Diagon Alley in Studio and Hogsmeade village in Islands of Adventure and you can take the train from Kings Cross to go from one to the other. This who experience is just amazing and you can’t fail to fall in love with the stories and characters again when you visit.

The attention to detail in both locations is ridiculous. I was in Hogsmeade and asked for a coke only to be told “sorry sir, we don’t sell Muggle drinks here” – Brilliant!

Other parts of both parks are great too, but for me (as a huge fan) it’s all about Potter.

The big disappointment for us this trip was Busch Gardens. It was really expensive ($100 each!) and all the animals were hiding and the ride lines made you want forever. A real shame as I seem to remember this as a great place to go years ago. I definitely won’t be going back.

That aside we had a fantastic vacation. Both James and Abi had a great time, even being stuck on two rides was cool (one in Epcot and one in Universal – although Abi didn’t like being stuck in Universal as we were way high up and a thunderstorm was coming in).

The place we stayed was fantastic and while it was super hot we had an excellent time.

Seriously can’t wait until we go back.

On a photography front, all I took was the X-T1 with my new 18-135mm lens and the X100T.  Some days I took one out, others I took the other.  Here’s the shocker – I had more fun with the X100T than the X-T1 and think that many of the images I took with that smaller cheaper camera are my favorites.

Here are some shots of each park.

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

Hollywood Studios

Universal

Animal Kingdom