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Flying Dutchman

posted on August 19th, 2010 by Kent Phillips, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Last August, as part of a photo shoot, I was treated to my first overnight stay on Castaway Cay in the Bahamas. I’d heard from co-workers how well you could see the stars at night, but had no idea it would be as spectacular as it was. I spent almost an hour standing in the dark just staring up at the Milky Way that night. There were some very distant thunderstorms lighting up the horizon, so I made my way to the bridge overlooking the boating harbor on the southwest side of the island to see if I could get some nice shots.
Flying Dutchman Ship by Kent Phillips
This photo is a two-minute exposure of the dimly-lit Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, which makes its home in the harbor. For you photo types (you poor souls) the exposure was 120 seconds at f/2.8 at 1600 ISO. The star trails are a result of the rotation of the earth during the long exposure, and the aforementioned lightning gives some nice color to the sky. The green color cast of the ship is from the lights in the island’s dock area.

I actually got so carried away shooting long time exposures that night I depleted three of my four camera batteries before remembering I hadn’t brought a battery charger and still had my photo shoot to do in the morning. I’ll definitely bring one next time.

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William from VA on August 19th, 2010 at 10:25 am

Very cool. I love the way the blurriness os the sky emphasizes the creepiness of the ship.


Robert from TX on August 19th, 2010 at 11:50 am

Awsome picture!


Christie on August 19th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

This is better than any shots of the ship in the POTC movies! Amazing shot, the stars really perfect the pic!


Jennifer from CT on August 19th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I have been to Castaway Cay and seen the Dutchman first hand. Its amazing! This is a great picture and it brings back many happy memories.


Christopher from FL on August 19th, 2010 at 12:35 pm

I love this photo! Thanks for posting the settings used for this shot. I would love to be a photographer for Disney, that has to be one of the best jobs in the world!


Jean from NY on August 19th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

very nice – will be there in a couple of weeks, but will have sailed away long before sunset :( someday maybe guests will have the sleepover chance. Regardless, I’m a “point and shoot” photographer, so would NEVER be able to capture anything as spectacular. Thanks for sharing.


Cheryl on August 19th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Goodnes! 2min at 1600 ISO! just wondering if you had a tri-pod? Really cool looking though. Especially for that long of an exposure.


Kent Phillips on August 19th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Cheryl: I actually didn’t have a tripod with me on that trip. I had to pack very lightly and didn’t have room for it in my camera backpack, so instead I brought a photo clamp used for mounting lights and cameras and mounted it to the bridge railing. I even used the clamp on the beach attached to the back of one of the beach chairs. Lacking that, however, you can set your camera on a solid surface and use another object under the lens to raise it up to the level you need to frame your shot. I’ve done that on a lot of occasions where I didn’t have my “sticks.”


Susan from OH on August 19th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Wow, this is great. We will be there next month. Can’t wait to see this again. Will this picture ever be for sale??


Sacit on August 19th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Thanks for sharing! great picture. Ditto Susan’s question!


Scott from NY on August 19th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Nice shot! I always wondered what it would be like to spend more than a day at Castaway Cay and sleep there. My wife and I got married on Castaway Cay and we will gladly volunteer to be test guests on the island!


ken on August 19th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Great shot! I too was wondering how to get a copy of this picture. The desk area in my home office is decorated with Pirates of the caribbean objects and this would look great on the wall.


Charles on August 19th, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Very cool shot. Wish we could be there overnight so I could get pictures like that. I’d like to hear the answer to Susan’s question as well.


Kent Phillips on August 20th, 2010 at 9:56 am

Charles: At this time I don’t know of any plans to sell this image or otherwise make it available, but I’m more than happy to ask around. Our little department is responsible for generating the photos, but decisions regarding their ultimate usage lies in other hands.


Olivia on August 19th, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Great picture!! I love how the ship turns green… it just makes it that much more spooky!!! I would love to see that ship up close and in person!


Joost from Noord Brabant on August 20th, 2010 at 1:20 am

That’s a real nice picture! It’s always magic to see what your camera picks up at longer exposure times!
Why do you use such high ISOvalues?


Kent Phillips on August 20th, 2010 at 10:20 am

Joost: I used a higher ISO on this shot because it allowed me to capture a lot more light in a much shorter exposure with a minimum of additional digital noise. Had I left the camera at ISO 200, where it is usually set, the exposure would have been roughly 15 minutes long. And because of the way our cameras reduce noise on long exposures, it takes as much time to write each file to the camera’s memory card as for the exposure itself, which would have meant 30 minutes per exposure, or just two pictures per hour.


Carole from FL on August 20th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

This is a wonderful picture. HAUNTING in the evening sky. Note the star action. Excited to return to Castaway in April 2011.

That Pelican Plunge will be a new treat also so the Disney folks are ever busy to offer more and more.
Hummmmm Could they use a resident Grandma on the Island to do a round of duty?


Arlene from FL on August 20th, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Fantastic picture, great technique! BRAVO!


sara from SC on August 20th, 2010 at 8:30 pm

I am a big Hidden Mickey buff. Look at the white color in the sky to the right and it looks like the top of a Mickey! Cool!! Great photo!!


Edmund from FL on August 20th, 2010 at 10:04 pm

GREAT photo. In an earlier reply you stated that you had to pack very lightly…did you fly out to the island by small plane or helicopter?


Michael on August 21st, 2010 at 7:55 am

What a terrific picture! We were thrilled to see the Flying Dutchman on our last trip to Castaway Cay…our favorite part of any Disney Cruise.

We have been curious to know…are there any plans to do anything with the Dutchman? A restaurant? Part of an activity on Castaway? Seems like such a waste to have such a wonderful ship just sitting there…


Elizabeth on August 21st, 2010 at 10:56 am

I would love to have the chance to stay overnight at Castaway Cay. I bet it’s just glorious at night. Perhaps that’s a thought or idea for the future, a night stay over on the ship with adults only option to roam part of the island until a certain time (midnight?) would love to lay on the cool sand looking up at those stars.


JANICE from WA on August 21st, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Love the picture, I would defintely purchase it if it was ever for sale. Love Castaway Cay


Douglas from MD on September 1st, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Great photo! As a fan of Castaway and POTC, if this photo ever was for sale, no doubt I would buy one!