So, I’ve been talking a lot about this photowalk in the past week and it has finally come and gone. I spent a total of four hours watching, listening, smelling, tasting, and shooting the fair this year. I left the family at home because I didn’t want to hold them back with all of my lallygagging, but we will be going back again as a family in the coming week to let the kids be kids.
The first thing I did when I arrived was head over to the Photography/Fine Arts Building to look at the work that was submitted for the photo contest. I talked briefly about that and my winning submission here, so I won’t rehash it again, I’ll just state that the photos I saw were stunning and everybody should be proud of how talented the photogs in the Charleston area are!
It was still quite bright out when I started the walk, and I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted to try and capture motion and make high-key photos that were dramatic. This meant shooting in manual mode and slowing up the shutter speeds to completely blow out the sky while still rendering the main subject with vivid color by also using a normal aperture. I think this one best demonstrated my vision for this technique.
Here’s another shot of a different ride using the same technique:
The cloud coverage at the time I got there was like 90%, and the sunset was blocked out by clouds, which was a bummer. I kept shooting this Ferris wheel when I started to see a hint of pink in the sides of the clouds. I looked behind me an there it was – the clouds broke in a small area which was only truly visible (or should I say shootable) on the other side of the fairgrounds. I ran over to the side of the fairgrounds – I had already picked out the shot I wanted for the sunset pic earlier. I set up the tripod in the chosen location and composed my shot. Now I had to wait for the perfect storm of both the carousel and the Ferris wheel to be moving at the same time. Bingo – they both started to spin, but wait… two guys are in the middle of the shot!
I didn’t want to be rude, so I waited them out. By the time they departed (which was only about a minute or two), so did most of the sunset’s colors, and the carousel was stopping! That’s OK though, because the sky was still a striking color and I was able to capture this frame.
I wanted to also capture the food and vendors, because they are a huge part of the fair experience. As I was shooting a shot of some corn-dogs, the vendor offered to pose with one – I asked her to hold one out in front of her because I wanted to focus on her hands and the corn-dog. Little did I know she was going to pull out the most phallic thing I’ve ever seen put on a stick and deep fried. When I showed her the photo, we both started cracking up. I explained to her that at least her face was out of focus enough that her mother would never be able to identify her!
At one point I stopped to talk to this nice gentleman, and he started off with the one subject you should never bring up with a stranger – politics. The problem is that I couldn’t tell what side of the fence he hated more – He started complaining about Obama, and then went after Bush in the same breath! You gotta love carnies – they are the true anarchists of society. He told me he served in ‘Nam, which makes him more of a man than I could ever be, so I gotta give him some respect.
I popped over to the Lakefront Stage to catch a few songs from Phil Vassar, who is a pop country artist. I usually like my country in the alt variety, but I can appreciate any live musician – and his band was good. I snapped this shot of him singing to the crowd with the band in the background.
Now that the night had fallen, it was time to pull out the tripod and get some cool motion shots of the rides and lights.
I never realized how cool the Ferris wheels’ light patterns could be when caught with the right amount of shutter speed (or lack thereof).
Sometimes stacking multiple rides on top of each other for a shot will make for an interesting composition:
The lake in the middle of the fairgrounds makes for some great reflective shots of the fair’s skyline.
I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for the fireworks display. Unfortunately the amount of smoke they produced was quite impressive and it was filling the sky around me which gave the shots a foggy effect to them. I think this image plays off the situation pretty well.
I ended the evening grabbing a fried treat from the instant death booth. I asked the girl at the window if she would smile for a picture, because it might be the last one I ever take after she served me the fried s’mores that she recommended (which was woth the clogged arteries, BTW).
All-in-all I found it very therapeutic to walk through the fair without any major agenda – just to be wide-eyed and open to possible photographs that may present themselves was a lot of fun, and the time slipped away from me. Before I knew it, it was time to head home, and I hadn’t even explored the exhibitions, the rodeo, or the petting zoo! I hope you enjoy the photos I made, because I truly enjoyed making them. I have a bunch more so feel free to check out all of the shots I took here.