Ferris Wheel Neon, Monorail, Twilight

California State Fair, Sacramento, CA

Reaffirmation that photography works best when you have all the time in the world.  This adage tends to apply when one is out shooting landscapes, but applies to the State Fair in this case.  Mind you, I do not recall ever going to any sort of fair as a child.  The first experience was at this fair in 2003 when I carried around a clunky Kodak 2MP point-and-shoot digital camera.  It has become a yearly ritual since 2008 (not the clunky Kodak part!).  Usually I take snapshots with a Canon ELPH P&S camera and occasionally bringing along some dSLR, but no tripod.  When you attend a fair with a group of people, they understandably do not want to wait in the hot weather for 15 minutes while you find the “perfect” composition at every opportunity.

So this year, after waiting for the framers to finish up with my entries into the County Fair and subsequently missing my window to take advantage of Happy Hour at Ella Dining Room and Bar, I decided to hit the State Fair alone.  Two reasons for doing this.  First, I wanted to see the accepted entries in the Photography competition.  Second, I wanted a chance to take my time and shoot some photographs!

This composition resulted in 5 separate photographs in which I selected this one to process.  Each of the 5 had different neon colors and amount of blur, but this photo has the added bonus of the monorail coming into the composition at the bottom right.  Otherwise, a flashing light bulb “CLUB” sign would have dominated that corner of the photo, which is not the worst thing in the world, but the monorail provided an extra element of motion, which I preferred.  I read of photographers like William Neill taking upwards of 40 or 50 (or more) of a single water motions composition, then spending time back on the computer evaluating each one.  Clearly, I need to have some more patience!

With the shutter speed at 1.6 seconds, a tripod was used.  In fact, while here in the Midway section of the fair, I crossed paths with two other photographers with tripod in hand.  What I learned this day is that snapping interesting Midway shots is not as easy as composing and shooting.  Certain rides lend themselves to looking great in these types of motion shots, while others do not and might benefit from the golden hour light treatment using a faster shutter speed.

I will have one more opportunity to shoot next week as I need to use the 2nd part of the B1G1 (buy 1, get 1) ticket offer.  I am thinking of shooting at the Midway earlier and even trying to take some snapshots of the people (fair goers and carnies).

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, patterned metering mode, 55mm, ISO 100, 1.6 sec, f/8

Ferris Wheel Neon, Monorail, Twilight.  California State Fair, Cal Expo, Sacramento, California. July 19, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


5 thoughts on “Ferris Wheel Neon, Monorail, Twilight

    1. I appreciate the comment David. Maybe I’ll have to enter this one if there is a “fair theme” category as it might be too abstract for some (read: judges/juries). Who knows?


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