How to Photograph the Spinning Tea Cup Ride

August 28, 2012

in Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

How to Photograph the Spinning Tea Cup Ride - Photography Tutorial via

If heading to the county fair or amusement park is on your list of activities to wrap up the summer,  this tutorial on photographing the spinning tea cups ride will help you capture some memorable action shots of your family enjoying the fun.

How To Take “Spinning Tea Cup” Action Photos

I love Disney, and really love capturing the joy that my girls feel when we visit DisneylandOne of their favorite rides is the Spinning Tea Cups…they scream and laugh every time they ride it!  Being a photographer through and through, I wanted to capture the joy that they feel on this ride.  My favorite shots are the ones when I get the background in movement.

First, grab your DSLR and your shortest focal length lens.  I usually take my Canon Rebel XT, so that I don’t have to lug around my Canon 5D Mark II.  You can get these shots with any DSLR…the only thing you do need is a lens with a focal length at about 18mm to 24mm’s.  I use my 18-55mm kit zoom lens that came with my Rebel, or when I do take my Mark II, I use my 24-70mm zoom lens.

Second, you will want to put your camera in M mode, or its manual setting.

Next, set your ISO to a low setting.  I use 100 for the best results.

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via

Once your ISO is set, you will want to set your shutter speed.  Turn the shutter speed dial to 40, which is 1/40th of a second.

Then, you will want to focus your camera on your subject. Press your shutter button halfway, and check your exposure level mark.  This will allow you to adjust your aperture to the correct exposure.  Move your aperture dial so that the exposure level mark sits just right to the center mark. [This would be just to the left on a Nikon.]

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via

Before the ride starts, check your exposure level mark once more. During the ride you will want to hold your camera to your chest to keep it as still as possible as the ride moves.  Press your shutter down half way when your camera is in this position, and look to make sure that the exposure level mark is still in the right spot.  Make any last second adjustments before the ride begins.

Once the ride starts, put your camera against your chest again, point at your subjects, and click away.  You will end up taking more pictures than you will need, but it is better to overshoot on this exercise, than not shoot enough.

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via
You can even take a self-portrait– this one is of me!

How to Capture the Action on the Tea Cups Ride - Photography Tutorial via

Make sure you check with the rules of the park you are attending regarding bringing your camera on the ride. [Safety tip: To protect your gear and those around you, be sure your camera strap is secured around your neck in case you lose your grip.]

Missy Wuertz for iHeartFaces.comMissy Wuertz, owner of Missy Marie Photography, is a natural light portrait and lifestyle photographer located in Hermosa Beach, California.  She is crazy about creating and instigating interactions between family members… those interactions truly make the best photos.  You can also follow her work on Facebook.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Bari Baskin August 10, 2013

Thanks for sharing this tutorial! I’m going to save it should the opportunity for me to try this arise. How fun!


Jennifer September 13, 2012

Awesome tips! I would also like to know how to do those at Disney World, which is a bit darker.


lisacng @ September 1, 2012

Next time I’ll try this!


Carmelle34 August 30, 2012

Its a great tutorial…I enjoy looking those photos…


Sara S August 28, 2012

Would you change anything for photographing the tea cups at Disney World? They are covered and tend to be darker than at Disneyland.


Declan Mc Glone August 28, 2012

How to Photograph the Spinning Tea Cup Ride #photography


Jenn Sawtelle August 28, 2012

Great tutorial but just looking at those photos makes me a little ill. . .can’t do it!


Dawn (Dawn's Recipes) August 28, 2012

Oh no…see, that would first require me to get ON the teacup ride. Not gonna happen. 😉


Kristie August 28, 2012

You know the obvious question next is, what settings do I use to take photos of the projectile spewing that will undoubtedly happen??? :)


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