The Delaware County Fair, 2012

Here are some shots I took at the Delaware County Fair on September 18 2012.
The fair presented lots of opportunities for a variety of shots, but the challenges were always lighting and vantage point. Interiors tended to be dim, and the subjects, whether or animals or people, could not be expected to sit sit still for long exposure times. I used my 35mm AF-S Nikkor prime lens a lot because of its fast 1.8 aperture, but many shots suffered from depth of field issues because of it. The goat, for example. I later found that for a subject three feet away and an F-stop of around 2.8, I was getting only about six inches of focal depth.

My favorite shot of the event. The ears, the eyes, the tongue, the attitude. I cropped the photo, removed some distracting dirt from the bars, and also removed the tag from his ear.
You can’t beat the golden hour before sunset for beautiful light, and it played so wonderfully off the horses. Because each of the riders followed the same route around the course, I was able to set up my camera like a billiards player calling his shots. Still, there were some distracting background details, so in this shot I remove a large light pole from just behind the horse’s head. I left its base for you to find between the fenceposts!
Taken with my 35mm fixed focal length lens, I had to jockey around to find the best vantage point to frame the shot the way I wanted. I lightened the image a bit in post-processing and cropped it to reflect the direction of the cow’s gaze toward the bidders.
The goats competed with the pigs for best facial expressions and most character. This guy reminded me of a sock-puppet! I liked the shot because the red tinsel in the background added a much needed splash of color to the other-wise pastel setting, and made such a pleasant bokeh. It seemed larger when I took the shot than it came out in the final image. Next year, I’ll try the same shot, but perhaps with a longer lens to bring the tinsel close and increase the depth of field on the goat’s nose. I hope I can find one willing to pose again.
This young man was all-business as he rounded the first barrel, but after knocking over the second barrel he was laughing for the rest of the course.
This pair of pigs was every active, and presented lots of shots. The difficulty was in deciding just which one to choose to keep. I settled on this one, largely because their expressions/attitudes in it differed from that of the other pig I photographed.
For these shots I placed my camera right on the floor to get an eye-level view, and folded out the monitor to frame the image.
A young boy taking aim with a cork gun. He was at the booth for about two minutes, which gave me lots of time play with camera settings. In post-processing, I used Corel PaintShop Pro X4 to lift the boy and his gun out as a separate layer, lightened him up a tad, and then slightly increased the blur of the background in order to make him stand out better against the wild colors of the prizes.
A heavy use of tone-mapping did not seem inappropriate for conveying the antics and adrenaline of the Super Shot ride.
Standing in front of the crowd was not allowed at the truck rally, but walking was. So I used that little loophole and traversed the length of the track a few times with my 300mm zoom at the ready. In retrospect, I think this gave me a wider variety of shots from which to choose than had I stayed in one or two places. Low light was the challenge here, as well as conveying the action of the scene in still photos. I got several “speed” shots of trucks leaping over ramps, but this shot with people in it appealed to me the most. This was taken hand-held at 1/80th of a second and 3200 ISO, the highest I’ve shot yet. PaintShop Pro X4 did a good job of filtering out the noise.
I found a good vantage point for the barrel races and lay down on the ground to catch some action shots. But the first three riders through the course pretty much trotted around, taking a leisurely 36 seconds or so to finish. I was thinking I would move on, when suddenly this little pink demon came blazing out of the starting gate yelling “Heeyah! Heeyah!”, taking each turn at top speed. Fortunately I hadn’t put my camera away, because she finished the course in just 17 seconds and I’d have totally missed the shot that I had set up to capture!
The ticket booth. I liked the idea of it being a gateway between the darkness of the street and the wild lights and sounds of the midway.

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