Dry Spell for PA Amusement Parks?

Skyrush at Hersheypark

Hersheypark debuted Skyrush, an Intamin winged coaster in 2012. The park hasn’t announced any additions in 2013.

It appears that Pennsylvania amusement parks this year will see very few Christmas presents for the 2013 season.  Visiting the Dorney Park page shows only a promotion for 2013 season pass under the “what’s new” section.  Hersheypark, Knoebels Grove and Kennywood don’t appear to have anything new debuting in 2013 either.  Conneaut Lake Park also does not appear to be adding anything in 2013 but their website is a bit out of date and tough to navigate.

Waldameer in Erie, PA is adding a Music Express and Idlewild & SoakZone in Ligonier, PA will be adding a lazy river.

Here’s hoping that either the parks are waiting until closer to opening day for an announcement or that we will have a huge year of new rides and coasters in 2014.

Until Next Time,



Coaster Clubs

Image of Raptor captured at ACE event at Cedar Point

Posted 11/29/12

This year was the first year that I’ve joined some of the coaster clubs and they offer some great perks. The group ranges from people who just love the ride to people that know the nuts and bolts of the rides. They often offer perks such as behind the scenes tours and exclusive ride time (ERT). I had the chance to experience Hersheypark with the Coaster Crew group and Cedar Point with American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE).

During the special event at Hersheypark we had ERT on Fahrenheit in the morning. We then enjoyed lunch and had a behind the scenes tour of the Maintenance/Service/Employee area. The night was capped off with ERT on Skyrush, Hersheypark’s newest coaster. Along the way there were special prizes given away and other special events and activities planned.

The Cedar Point trip included a special free day because Indigo Films was recording footage for the upcoming second season of Insane Coaster Wars. The first hour or so of the first event was spent riding Magnum for the show. The rest of the day was mostly a free day to explore the park with an event or two offered during the day.

The first hour of the second day was spent with Indigo Films on Maverick. The second hour we had ERT on Millennium Force. The remainder of the day included some free time as well as a tour of Gatekeeper’s construction, lunch, a behind the scenes tour of one of the haunted mazes and a few other special events.

The Cedar Point getaway was a combination of Ace and the Great Ohio Coaster Club so the turnout was pretty big. The Coaster Crew outing was a bit more intimate but both were definitely a lot of fun. As a amusement park lover and photographer it was a great to get the chance to network as well as socialize with fellow coaster lovers.

There are a few other coaster clubs not mentioned here that I have not had time to explore. I recommend checking out what’s available in your area or nationwide. Ace has its main club and then individual clubs that are suited towards certain geographical areas. Prices for the individual can range from $10 to $60 or more. This means there is sure to be one that can suite your budget.

Until Next Time

Coasting on Fahrenheit with The Coaster Crew

The Coaster Crew photo after lunch at Hersheypark

Coasting with Ace and Great Ohio Coaster Club

Looking for a great gift for the amusement park lover? Check out my park and coaster prints available on Etsy.

William SupkoPhotography on Etsy

The Wooden 360

Wooden frame and track coaster

El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure. All Wood Frame and steel covered wooden track.

This year is the year of the wood coaster with inversions. Iron Rattler at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Hades 360 at Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park are both existing coasters that will be transformed to include a 360 degree element. Outlaw Run at Silver Dollar City will feature 3 inversions. All three parks are laying claim to having a wooden coaster that goes upside down. Knowledgeable coaster geeks such as me are at great debate over these claims.

Iron Rattler at Six Flags over Texas in San Antonio is getting all steel I beam track. This changes the coaster from Wooden to Steel Hybrid. Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City’s new construction, Outlaw Run, uses steal track that closely resembles that of a wooden coaster. As Hades, located in Wisconsin Dells transforms to Hades 360 it will feature an inversion twisted wood track covered in metal. While Hades 360 comes closest to the standard wood definition it may be considered a wooden hybrid due to the fact that the structure is steel.

RCDB.com, the largest database on coasters, states that no matter the structure, it is a wooden coaster if the track consists of wood. Coaster connoisseurs will argue that the steel structure provides a smoother ride than one constructed with a wooden frame.

The construction at Six Flags is to me unarguably a steel coaster. Silver Dollar City’s Coaster is a tough call because it is steel but has the shape wood (does anyone know if there is wood inside?). To me Hades 360 is the closest to being the first wooden coaster with a wooden inversion.

What about son of Beast? It was the first modern wooden coaster to go upside but the structure for the failed loop was not made of wood.
The arguments on all sides aren’t that big of a deal. I just hope they don’t have the same fate as Son of Beast.

The linked videos below are all property of the park that created/posted them. They are linked from the official theme park youtube page of each park.

Hades 360

Outlaw Run

Iron Rattler

Until Next Time,

Snowy Pictures

Chair Lift and Snow

Roundtop mountain Resort making snow.

The first snow of the season has arrived in the Harrisburg, PA area. It’s a beautiful time to go out and grab a few pictures but there is something you should know. Most cameras will underexpose that snowy scene. This may leave you to wonder why that gorgeous view in front of you looks grey and dingy on the screen of your digital camera. This comes from your cameras meter trying to average out the scene.

The bright white of the snow causes confusion. The inner workings tell the camera the scene is to bright and exposes it to what it thinks the proper level should be. The camera assumes the world should be 18% grey (why 18%? That’s what the average light reflectance is – though some disagree and say it may be as low as 12%) . When it sees the bright white snow it thinks “this scene is to bright” and adjusts.

You don’t need a complex SLR camera to adjust your exposure,  you just need to look through the manual (that book you left in the box while you went out and played with the camera) to see how to adjust your exposure compensation.  Experiment with adjusting the exposure compensation, opening it up to allow more light in for brighter and better pictures.

‘Til next time


Photo Sharing Etiquette

Random Image

Giant Wheel at Cedar Point

Many people don’t realize they are breaking copyright laws when they save and post images to their Facebook wall, tweet them, post them to their tumblr blog or post them anywhere else on the internet.  Copyright, especially now in the digital age can be tricky.  Many people believe that in order to hold a copyright one must register the image.  This is untrue.  Once an image is created in the United States it is protected by US copyright laws.  Many photos posted and shared illegally will go unnoticed.  If an image creator discovers illegal use of their image the results can range from a simple cease and desist order to an account being frozen or closed to facing fines and lawsuits.

Some examples:

Facebook shutting down pages due to copyright violation –

Woman sued for using web photos –

Group sued for using copyrighted photos –

Random Photo

Corkscrew at Cedar Point

Best Practice – If you see an image you want to post anywhere online, ask for permission.  Email the image owner and ask if you may use their image.  Explain in detail what you’d like to use the image for.  It is also a good idea to verify that the person you are talking to is the owner of the copyrighted image.

If you are unable to contact or find the original copyright owner the next best thing is to link to the page the image is on.  When possible site the source of the image.  Give credit where credit is due.  This technique eliminates most of the risk of getting a cease and desist order because you are not taking credit for the image.

Worst Practice – Save images and then post them as your own.  Unless you’re using the image under the Fair Use Act (http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html) you are most definitely violating copyright laws.

Of course this blog post doesn’t cover Creative Commons rights (http://creativecommons.org/).  That is another blog post for another time.

All of the information written in this blog is from what I’ve come to understand of copyright laws, it is by no means definitive or legal advice.  Let me know your thoughts.


You can see more of my work on Facebook @ facebook.com/supkophoto

You can see prints I have available for purchase @ etsy.com/shop/supkophoto 

The Best Time to Take a Picture

For some reason I’m a sucker for the how to take a better picture article.  I almost always click the link to read the same 5 things that are drilled into my head every time I click one of these links.  Occasionally I read things that make me think or give me better ideas.  Those times are rare.

Today I decided to read another article and the second or third line down once again discussed the best time of day to take a picture.  Preaching that golden hour, either an hour after the sunrises or before it sets.   It seemed the article was trying to state that any time outside of that time was an incorrect time to properly take a good outdoor picture.


Shot in the bright sunlight – Middle of the day

They forgot to mention the blue hour, that hour before sunrise and after sunset when the sky glows an almost eerie blue, it creates some really great backlit images.  They also forgot to mention the other 20 hours of the day.  There is no exact perfect time to take an image.  Waiting for that golden hour may result in your subject being engulfed in shadow.  If you’re visiting a popular tourist attraction it may not be possible to use this guideline.

Let’s get rid of this “rule” (the only hard and fast rule in photography is that you have to take the lens cap off).  In place I say take a picture anytime you have the camera handy.  Also, don’t forget to take the lens cap off.


The Blue Hour – that hour between sunset and complete darkness

After dark – Painting with light

Dorney Park
Of Course the golden hour is a good time to take a picture but it’s not the only time.


The day after Labor Day is a sad day for devoted amusement park fans.  It’s the day when most parks north of Florida and east of California board up their doors, at least during the weekdays.  It does however give me a chance to catch up on my writing.  I finally have the opportunity to write my review of Hersheypark’s Skyrush!


200 ft. 85 degree drop

Skyrush, Hersheypark’s third Intamin coaster debuted this year to great and not so great reviews.  The main point that seems to have gotten a good bit of attention is the lap bars.  It seems that many people have nicknamed the ride ThighCrush because of the pain felt from the lap bars.  I have managed to ride the coaster 3 times, and in all three times my legs have come out unscathed.  I’m a hefty guy so maybe the padding between the restraint and my bones has protected me.

As you head on the newly built path towards the coaster that is towering over the park you can hear an almost siren like sound as the coaster heads up the lift on an elevator style lift system.  The ride then plummets 200 feet down an 85 degree drop and reaches a speed of approximately 75 miles an hour as the ride approaches its first curve. The ride then throws you through a series of small hills and highly banked turns before you hit the brake run at the end of the run.


Head Chopper

My first ride on Skyrush happened in the middle of June.  We waited about an hour to get onto the ride.  Being a bigger rider I was worried that I may not fit under the lap bar.  As we approached the station we learned the train has sensors that won’t allow the train to be dispatched if the lap bar is not down to a certain level (we also later learned that there is a seat out front to test if you will fit and is actually outfitted with the same sensor and a green light that comes on if you’re good to go).  It was finally our time to board the train, we got in and the lap bar was pulled back and I fit.  Now the pit in my stomach was just from the anticipation of the ride.

Once we boarded the non-winged seats in the middle of the train and were locked in the all clear was given.  The dispatch buttons were hit we were off like a rocket.  The speed of the train looked fast from the ground but felt so much faster on the ride.  We crested the hill and as we were heading down that first drop we were out of our seats.  It felt as though our butts did not return to the seat until we hit the brake run at the end of the ride.

The next two experiences I had been at a special ERT event where we got to ride with little to no wait.  This was my chance to ride in the front winged seat and I was excited beyond belief.  As soon as we hit the bottom of the first drop I realized I am not a fan of the winged seats.  I knew from the previous ride that you were out of your seat but I felt like a rag doll being thrown around. The train was curving to the right and my body was still going left.  It wasn’t a painful rag doll experience; just an “I’m not sure how my body is still on this train” kind of experience.

My final ride was another middle non-winged seat.  This ride and the front seat ride were both in the dark.  I wear glasses and obviously this is definitely one ride you can’t wear them on (do not take anything you value on this ride, it will be lost!)  I’m almost blind without my glasses so when we hit the point where the train crosses under the track I began to come out of my seat and thought for  sure I was going to smack my head on the track above.


From outside the park

After unloading from my last ride of the night I decided this ride is great, it’s intense and it scares me a little bit.  Okay, okay it scares me a lot (which is rare because I was a ride operator many moons ago and know the safety mechanisms and the huge amount of attention to safety they put into the ride and it’s operation).   I’d probably definitely go on it again but I don’t see myself wanting to wait for it.


From the new path.

On the negative side of things I only had one major complaint.  This ride is squished in next to comet and they had very little plan in exit strategy.  Riders have to unload from the train on the same side as riders waiting to board the train.  This made the load/unload cycle take way longer than it should thereby increasing the wait time.  I wish they would have found a way to get the train unloaded on the opposite side or made an exit station.

For more pictures be sure to visit http://supkophoto.smugmug.com/AmusementParks/Hersheypark

and http://supkophoto.smugmug.com/AmusementParks/Coaster-Crew-Rush-the-Sky/24789945_WVt5cN#!i=2028936879&k=WVS3WvS

What Kind of Photographer am I?

Since beginning this journey over 5 years ago I am often asked what my specialty is.  More specifically if I do portrait work.  People see the work I do and think I could do great portrait work.  The answer is yes, I do portrait sessions when I get the chance and am always looking to gain experience and capture the moment but my true love lies in the outdoor entertainment industry and destination travel.

I have worked in the amusement/outdoor entertainment/destination travel industry for almost a decade, allowing me insight into what goes on behind the scenes.  This also enables me to be knowledgeable on getting exciting and dramatic pictures.  My love of the outdoors, recreation and amusement parks has allowed me to capture some amazing images.

My business is divided into three areas, portrait work, art work, and commercial work.

The portrait part is something I mostly do in my spare time to gain experience.  A little discussed fact is that shooting anything, be it in or out of you genre of work helps you improve your overall photography skills.  I’ve often heard don’t shoot clouds, flowers or generic landscapes because they won’t sell.  The market is oversaturated with photographers in those categories.  Some of the first pictures I took were in those categories and helped me to see the light.

The artwork section of my business allows me a little freedom (both during the shoot and in editing) to capture the image I want and to do what I want with it.  It is great to explore and experiment with different angles, to see something photographically the way few others have.  Sometimes it’s not about reinventing the wheel, sometimes it’s about getting the same shot others have with a minor twist.

The commercial portion of my work largely goes towards social media.  I attempt to get companies to realize that quality photos can capture an audience’s attention much more quickly than poor out of focus ones can.  I’m always available for sessions to be used on websites and print ads as well.

Now that you’ve gotten to know a little bit more about me enjoy some pictures of what I shoot.

Dominator at Kings Dominion

Amusement Parks

Walt Disney Resort


Roundtop Mountain Resort

Ski Resorts

Hawks Kay

Destination travel

Lake Tobias

Zoos and Wildlife Parks


Shenandoah National Park - Skyline Drive

Local, State and National Parks

I’m Back

After an almost two year hiatus from the blog world I’ve decided to come back.  I’ve recently returned to Twitter to share my personal and business goings on so here I am making another go at the blog.

So what’s going on in the world of William Supko Photography.  So many exciting things are happening.  I have a few great trips planned, I’m in the process of creating the 2013 calendars (so far the themes have been Skiing, Roller Coasters and New York City.  If you have any suggestions I’d love to here them.)  I’m looking into several sights to sell my work and I’m always on the look out for the next great project, so if you have an idea for a project or are in need of some great shots please hit me up.  Currently I’m looking forward to the leaves changing and those crisp fall mornings.

If you want to check me out socially here are the links:

Facebook – facebook.com/supkophoto
Twitter – twitter.com/supkophoto
Smug Mug – supkophoto.smugmug.com
Tumblr – outdoor717,tumblr.com
WordPress – You are here!

And I leave you with a recent picture.

American Alligator

An American Alligator at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax, PA.