Spaceship Earth: Variations On A Theme
Spaceship Earth inside of Epcot is a bit unique compared to the other centerpiece structures at Walt Disney World parks. It's the first major element you see when you enter and the last you see when you leave the park. It commands your attention with its size and shape. Therefore, it must be photographed.
Entry to Spaceship Earth
Sometimes I think this point of view is the hardest one to take. Visitors are perpetually posing in front of Spaceship Earth, often with absurd poses as Atlas holding up the Earth. All in good fun, and why not? It's a vacation and immediately recognizable. When they get home, it's a nice way to say “I was there.”
The outliers of photographing this view are people like me. Someone who wants to show Spaceship Earth as the subject, rather than a background for a tourist snapshot. That's right. I'm the oddball in the park looking for a shot like this one.
Spacebals! The Odd Way To Photograph Spaceship Earth
I've found many interesting photos of Spaceship Earth. One close-up even made it into the Windows operating system as a desktop background. Yet none of the photos from other folks have seemed quite as quirky as this shot I took during Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk a few years ago.
It's another image taken on entry into the park, right after our group leader promised us that he would not select a photo of Spaceship Earth as the best shot. It was too cliché of a subject, so he encouraged us to find something else that was better, more artistic, and more interesting.
Much to my surprise, and his, he still ended up selecting this shot as the best of the entries for that particular photo walk. It didn't go any farther, but at least it wasn't the usual cliché photo of Spaceship Earth. In other words, don't be afraid to be a little wonky with your imagination.
The Distant View of Spaceship Earth
You can see Spaceship Earth even from the back of the World Showcase, so why not use it? I like to use the centerpiece structures in Walt Disney World parks as a background element. It's party a compositional element – part of the stack of foreground, middle and background – as well as a subtle reminder of the place you visited to get the shot.
An Obstructed View
Just as visitors like to pose in front of Spaceship Earth, they also love to pose behind it, though a little further back. The Fountain of Nations is a common shot with Spaceship Earth aligned between the fountain streams. With a pair of Disney Photopass photographers back there, it's another spot frequented by visitors who may or may not be in your shot.
Rather than have some random tourist walking in front of your camera (which happens every time I visit), choose your own obstruction. Wander around to the other side of the Fountain of Nations and aim up above their heads. You'll find these odd looking things that do a poor job of protecting you from the elements, but they put another spin on photographing Spaceship Earth.
Passing Spaceship Earth On The Way Out
There are a lot of irresistible parts of Spaceship Earth. It's shape, size and texture come to mind. Once the sun starts fading, Disney turns on the lights. As you can see in the photo above, they put a nice warm glow on the right side as you exit. You can leave on either side, but why not choose the one with interesting light?
Perhaps the last time you want to think about taking another photo is on your way out. I get it. Florida is hot and muggy. You spend a lot of time walking around the park. You're tired, ready to get out of there and find something refreshing. You just took your last shot on the way out, so why turn around and look at the same thing you saw on the way inside?
Because it's never really the same. Spaceship Earth changes through the day and night, so don't think there's only one shot of this huge sphere to take.
You don't have to live in Orlando or spend a lot of money going to Walt Disney World parks. Just find something where you live and see how many compositions you can make of it. This certainly isn't an exhaustive list of Spaceship Earth compositions. The fun of shooting something repeatedly is that it pushes you to do something different the next time, which I've found comes in handy in other cases. If you always do the standard shot and quit, you'll never push yourself to see what creativity lies within you.