Friday, August 22, 2014

Western Idaho Fair 2014

Although I've lived in Idaho a long time, I haven't been to the Western Idaho Fair very many times. In fact, it wasn't until the last four years that I started going every year. As a member of the Boise Camera Club I get to volunteer in the Photography Exhibit. We help accept entries, assist on judging day, display the photos, and man the exhibit area during the fair.* In exchange for our volunteer time, we get free admission to the fair for that day.

In past years I've gone with the intent to stay after my shift and photograph the fair. Mostly because of my physical difficulties I haven't had the energy by the end of the day. This year I decided to change that. I finally took some time to shoot the fair: the rides and the people.

Wednesday night the Camera Club of Eagle (I'm a member there too) took a field trip to the fair. I spent the evening shooting some longer exposures, experimenting with compressing lots of motion over time into a single shot. To see the gallery of shots from that night, go to my photo website.

I'll let you look through them and pick your favorites, but I'd like to highlight a couple of my favorites from that night.

Spinning rides, in long exposures, tend to create symmetrical results. It takes some creativity to find asymmetry among all the moving parts. I like this first images because of the asymmetry. I caught the ride while it was rising and speeding up which created the moving lines of spin - that and some creative cropping.


The shape of this second ride is so unusual. I took a dozen images or so, and each one looks different. Normally I pick the best of a group of similar shots, and delete the rest, but I'll probably keep all the images of this ride.


Thursday I worked a shift in the photo exhibit, then went back out to photograph the people of the fair. There is no place quite like a fair for people watching. It's one of those places at which people from all walks of life gather in the same place. I'm not a street photographer, and photographing people I don't know makes me nervous. I've always been worried that people will be offended because I'm pointing a camera at them. Or they'll get upset at me, or refuse to interact with me. But none of those things happened.

I found a place to sit (my feet wouldn't take any more standing) that was right in the major traffic patterns. People were approaching me from all four directions. Most people didn't know I was shooting them, involved in their own world. Some people 'caught' me pointing the camera at them, and every one of them smiled at me, or posed. I caught a few people doing something they didn't want photographed (like wiping their nose or mouth, or eating something), but their reactions were fun. "If you're going to take a picture, at least take a good one." Then they'd let me take another photo. I had such a great time, but I suspected there wouldn't be many keepers among the photos.

There were more than I expected.

I tried to capture moments - sometimes I did, sometimes I didn't. This is one of my favorites from the afternoon because of the girl on the far left of the frame. I was shooting this image from the hip, aiming at the group. My aim was a little off, but that lack of accuracy found a fun model. She thought I was shooting her and gave me a fun pose.


People were so cooperative. I asked the four people eating corn to hold up the cobs for me. They did, and smiled. The couple taking a selfie had already taken one. I walked over and asked them to do it again so I could shoot them shooting themselves. The man photographing the woman holding the turkey leg was a redo also. I asked them to recreate the moment, and they did. And so did the kid holding the two corn dogs. He was warming up his ears. Before he handed one corn dog to his friend I heard him say, "I'll give you the one without earwax on it."

Here's another favorite. Even the toughest looking guys love to ham it up for a camera.


Lastly, if you'll indulge me, I'd like to get a little philosophical. And since it's my blog, you don't really have a choice. :)

As I was sitting on my perch, I was contemplating who I was photographing, and why, and more importantly, who I wouldn't photograph. I came up with two rules for myself, and I think both of them stem from my personality and the kind of person I want to be in life, and are then extended to my photography.

1. I won't photograph someone to make fun of them.

There were certainly people there whom I could ridicule, and people who seemed ridiculous. But that doesn't seem in keeping with who I am. Yes, I laughed at people, but in my heart I was trying to laugh with them, not at them. Some people never saw me, but the ones who did look my way saw me looking at them, and smiling. If they were close enough, I commented or thanked them for the picture.

2. I won't take creepy photos.

We all know what those are. I won't be the person with a long telephoto lens trying to sneak up on people, or hide behind something. I want my photography to be right out in the open. Anyone who was paying attention, and watched me for more than a minute, knew exactly what I was doing.

As a reminder, you can find both galleries on my photography website.
chrismcnaught.weebly.com


*Just to clarify, BCC members aren't involved in any of the judging. In fact, those of us who work on judging day aren't allowed to even speak to the judges while the judges are working. We work to ensure we don't influence the judges' choices.

Full disclosure: I did judge the Youth Photography division this year, but there aren't any BCC members entering photos in that division.
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