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More Than Meets the Eye at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on March 28th, 2011 by Kent Phillips, Photographer, Walt Disney World

Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Today’s magic words: puffy white clouds. In taking my near infrared photo sideshow through the final park at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I was lucky enough to find myself on the bridge leading to Harambe on a sunny day when the sky was chock full of the little buggers. I was totally unprepared for the effect a sky full of small, fast-moving clouds would produce during 30-second exposures of Expedition Everest and the Tree of Life.

More Than Meets the Eye at Disney's Animal Kingdom

It’s a rare and satisfying experience when you look at an image as it pops up on your camera’s LCD screen and go, “Oooooo!” However, as satisfying as it may be, I realized that day that it’s probably best to smile and say it quietly to yourself rather than standing on a bridge, grinning like a goof and making sounds like a lovesick moose.

Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom

With as much fun as I’ve had shooting these near infrared photos, I find I’m having a hard time making myself take the filter out of my camera bag and put it back in the cabinet. Maybe I could leave it in there a little while longer.

Just in case.

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Filed: Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World Resort



Vicki on March 28th, 2011 at 9:38 am

I love the photos,so do my grandsons. Great job.Hope we will get some like that when we are there,I know they will never be the same but I can dream.Again beautiful.


Laurie on March 28th, 2011 at 9:39 am

Oh please leave the filter in and go back some evening near sunset….on the bridge going to Camp Minnie Mickey! Hundreds of white egrets come in and camp in the trees for the evening……it is an extravagent sight! Central Florida style snowfall/icicles!


Tabitha on March 28th, 2011 at 9:42 am



JENNIFER from MI on March 28th, 2011 at 9:49 am

Very Pretty!


Kellie from Victoria on March 28th, 2011 at 9:49 am



Andrew on March 28th, 2011 at 9:51 am

Just curious…how do you become a photographer for WDW? I’m a Canadian freelance photographer with a passion for Disney, and would love to know. Thanks a bunch, Andy B – Canada.


Krystalle on March 28th, 2011 at 9:51 am

I -love- the IR photographs! They’re so ethereal and lovely. Thanks so much for posting them — and please, do keep it out, just in case!

Would you mind sharing which IR filter you’re using? I’m taking photography classes and would love to know more about your setup if you’d be willing to share some details.


Kent Phillips on March 28th, 2011 at 11:01 am


Take a look at some of the replies I posted with the first installment in this impromptu series, More Than Meets the Eye at Magic Kingdom, and see if they help. If not, I’ll try to answer any of your questions to the best of my limited abilities.


CHRISTOPHER from PA on March 28th, 2011 at 10:01 am

These photos are amazing to say the least! Brilliant!
I have thousands of pictures from my 20 years of visiting the parks and always look for new ways to capture the magic.
I think WDW should offer a “behind the scenes” photography experience, I think it would be a huge hit with many guests.


Linda on March 28th, 2011 at 10:02 am

Absolutely gorgeous pictures!


Gordon on March 28th, 2011 at 10:09 am

These shots are amazing! Maybe I missed it somewhere, but would Kent mind sharing the camera and filters that he’s been using? I’ve always loved shooting black and white images, and the last time I shot IR was back when I used film and had access to a darkroom.


Dina from AB on March 28th, 2011 at 10:09 am

Absolutely beautiful pictures!!


frances on March 28th, 2011 at 10:10 am

The 3rd pic is my favorite—stunning! thanks for sharing…


Sarah from AR on March 28th, 2011 at 10:10 am

It looks like the trees are covered in snow lol…these pics are amazing…I love the very first one on the list 😀


Timothy from WA on March 28th, 2011 at 10:40 am

These are absolutely beautiful. They remind me of what my back yard looks like when it snows. Everything is white, gray and black. Very dramatic. Would love to have these hanging on my wall at home.


Jennifer on March 28th, 2011 at 10:59 am

These pictures are amazing! Please keep posting more!


Laurie from AL on March 28th, 2011 at 11:22 am

I agree with Christopher. I’d love to do a “Photography Tour” at WDW. (I’d also love to be a Disney photography contributor but I think you’ve got that position in the {camera} bag).


Michelle from CO on March 28th, 2011 at 11:31 am

Fantastic! Amazing and Magical Animal Kingdom is my favorite park it is so photogenic. Thanks for sharing.


amy on March 28th, 2011 at 11:45 am

I love the picture of Expection Everest the last one. It looks like a Asian ink drawing


karen on March 28th, 2011 at 11:58 am

I would LOVE to see some at the resorts… the contemporary from say the magic kingdom… or any of the resort hotels… of course i love disney so much that anything is enjoyable… BUT I also love this filter


Krystalle on March 28th, 2011 at 12:28 pm

@Kent: Oops, sorry–I missed your reply in the first post. Thanks so much for the information! I’ll definitely be following your advice and looking up more information on near IR photography. Your photos are inspiring. :)


Sandi on March 28th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I love those photos especially the bottom. It has a “Shangri-la” look to it.


Keri from NY on March 28th, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I always love your photos. I love the way you look at things in a different way.


Joshua from AL on March 28th, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Definitely keep ’em coming! These images of Animal Kingdom are among the best ones yet. I love these shots and would definitely like to see more.


Thomas from IN on March 28th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Hey Kent, what camera are you using? Based on your posted EXIF from the Magic Kingdom shots, I’m betting something newer.

Using my D7000, I use bulb mode and end up with exposures of 30 seconds or more even at f/2.8-4.5 (ISO 400) and they still aren’t looking all that great, even after post. If I go with anything lower, I end up with a red mess! I’m thinking it’s because the IR filter is just too good on this newer model. I know all of the modded cameras are D50s, D70s, and D100s, so I’m wondering if the D7000 is just too new for IR.


Kent Phillips on March 28th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

I’ve seen comments online saying older cameras are better suited to this type of photography because the earlier internal IR cut-out filters let more near infrared light pass. We shoot with newer bodies here, but because I never played with this type of photography before this year I can’t say definitively that cameras two generations ago were better for this use. I have, however, seen a lot of near infrared photos from older cameras that were clearly shot hand-held, which is impossible with our newer models and the long exposures they require. This appears to be one of those situations where newer isn’t necessarily better.


Rachel on March 28th, 2011 at 4:41 pm

These are absolutely beautiful. They also capture one of my favorite picture spots while I’m there at the Animal Kingdom. i can’t even tell you how many photos I have take from that bridge look out at Expedition Everest. Thank you for sharing these!


Kristi on March 28th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Wow, just wow.


Susan from MA on March 28th, 2011 at 6:52 pm

OMG these photos are just so amazingly beautiful!!!!

I just LOVE the EE picture!!


Paul on March 29th, 2011 at 8:37 am

Hey Kent,
Amazing work once again! Any possibility of your IR photos making their way to the shops in WDW? I, and I am sure others here, would love to have the opportunity to purchase them as matted prints. The two at the top of my list would be the Haunted Mansion from an earlier post and Expedition Everest above. We rode EE a total of (13) times during the 5th Anniversary Passholder Event Nite earlier this month. The ride is much better at night. Your EE print, black frame, my wall!
Seminole, FL


Mary from NY on March 29th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Seriously beautiful work and amazing perspective. I have seen AKL photographed many times, but these are by far the best!


Alicia on April 1st, 2011 at 11:33 am

Hello Kent,

I would love to see more pictures! I would love to see a shot of
Mission Space and/or shots in Tomorrowland; perhaps the Astro Orbiter and Space Mountain.

Thanks so much for sharing!


Barbara from DE on April 1st, 2011 at 5:34 pm

Absolutely gorgeous! I feel like it’s a glimpse into a beautiful fantasy world exactly where I would love to be.