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Painting With Light at Disneyland Park

Paul Hiffmeyer

by , Chief Photographer for Public Relations, Disneyland Resort

I have been planning the photo I’m sharing with you today for quite a while now. In the perfect scenario, the roses would be a brilliant color, there would be little or no wind, and the sky would be deep blue and void of clouds so the warm light of the setting sun would illuminate the Matterhorn. However, as it turned out, the day I took this picture the roses in the foreground as well as the side of the bridge were in the shade. So, with the help of an assistant we each held a small LED video light and by “painting with light” we were able to brighten those dark areas.

Painting With Light at Disneyland Park

Painting with light in a photograph involves moving a light source back and forth evenly on the subject that needs to be illuminated while keeping the shutter open for an extended period of time. In this photo, the light source from the LED, together with a warming filter, helped brighten the roses and the side of the bridge so they appeared to be naturally lit.


  • I have a black and white photo of the castle that you might like to see. It was taken before the park opened in 1955 after Legend Fred Joerger had finished building it and he passed it on to me. The trees are all very small and perhaps the castle is lit only by ambient lighting. Always love your photos.

  • James, those are the wires that carry tinkerbell around the castle during the firework shows.

  • Love your trick to highlight the flowers, and to capture the beauty of the castle and matterhorn at the right time, but I couldn’t help, but notice that on the bridge there seems to be a person there with a green glowing head or something? freaky, well it is Halloween.

  • Are those wires or power lines in the background?

  • This would be a fabulous wallpaper picture for my computer! I love it! Thanks for sharing the beauty of Disneyland.

  • “Painting the Roses Red” — The song from Alice comes to life in this wonderful image. Thank you.

  • Truly amazing!! I’m taking a digital photography class at my college and i got to say, I think I’ve learned more on here than in the class. My professor never goes over stuff like this. Truly a remarkable piece of photography though!

  • Every year while i was in school at RIT we would do something similar call the big shot. We brought flashlights to a building and would literally paint with light for minutes.

  • Paul, What I love the the similarity in colors between the roses and the top of Sleeping Beauty Castle. Great Photo!

  • It really is a gorgeous picture! But I’m a bit confused: Was the handheld LED light source that you lit the bridge with powerful enough to throw light onto the side of the bridge from a distance? In other words, were you standing near the camera location when you aimed the light source at the bridge? Like you would a spotlight or powerful flashlight? Or did you get up closer? I understand that you moved the light source across the full area of the bridge over the time that the shutter was open, but what amazes me is how even the lighting turned out across the full length of the bridge.

    Also, what was the length of the exposure? So many things about this shot to love but I think my favorite part are the beautiful reflections in the water. So glassy smooth and colorful.

  • Beautiful!

  • I agree with Dean, that’s a beautiful picture!

  • I’m always amazed at the pictures you post. Well done.

  • That is an AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL picture!

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