If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then your days are getting shorter and your nights longer. This time of the year also brings a lot of awesome night events: fairs, carnivals, Halloween celebrations, and soon enough, the end-of-the-year holidays (and you know that means tons of lights everywhere.) So grab your fastest film and a camera with manual settings, and let the low-light fun begin!
My particular trip was to a County Fair (my first time at one after almost a decade of living in the U.S.), but you can pretty much get this low-light experience at any fair-style event or any of the settings mentioned above.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- A camera with manual controls.
- Fast film.
- A flash and color gels.
- A safe camera bag. Something with a zipper, in case you get to the rides. We don’t want your camera flying out and away from you.
What I used:
- Camera: I used my Canon EOS Rebel X. I loved this camera, because I can use several of my lenses.
- Lens: I used the Lensbaby Scout with the Fisheye Optic. If you’ve used these lenses before, you know they’re fun. I didn’t use any of the aperture disks, which means I was getting an aperture close to f/2.
- Flash: I used my Rebel’s flash for a couple of shots. But I forgot my color gels! That’s why I’m put them on your needs-list.
- Film: Kodak Ultramax 800.
A county fair is not only about carnival rides and extra fried food. It’s also about farm animals! It was my first time at the county fair, so I had no idea what to expect. We started out by visiting the bunnies and then the chickens. I had no idea that there were so many types of chickens. If you hit a county fair, be prepared to be educated on these cute little animals. My favorite was the one I called Punk Chicken. His feather style made it look like a superstar.
There were all kinds of cattle too. We visited some cute cows and goats (can I adopt two goats, please?!)
There were other fun stuff going on. There was an exhibition of canning and preserves, an art show, and table setting show. There was also a costume contest for kids and their pets (pigs, goats, cows, etc.)
Here’s a tip you’ll appreciate: Get to the rides BEFORE you get to the food. The lights of the rides mixed in with seeing a bunch of families having fun together can make your experience great. Make sure your shutter is open wide enough and long enough for your shots. Most of my images were taken around 1/30 – 1/45, except for the ones where I used the flash, that were taken at about 1/250.
While you’re taking photos and after the rides, get some food. Fair food is crazy and definitely not the best for your body, but it’s OK if it’s just once a year, right? The craziest thing ingested that night was fried Oreos. Their deliciousness was an unexpected surprise. There are recipes to do this at home, but I don’t recommend you do. What if you like it and then you want to make them every weekend?
Capture everything you can, but don’t forget to have fun. Get on a couple of rides, try some of the food, talk to some people, pet the animals, and let the goats try to bite your finger.