Photographing the Night Lights of the State Fair

Arkansas State Fair 2014One of my absolute favorite aspects of being the photographer for the Arkansas State Fair is the many opportunities to photograph the carnival lights.  Every year I try to get a new angle or something different than I did the year before.  Also, I often see people out here trying to do the same.  While there's only 2 nights left of this year's fair, I thought I'd share with you a few tips on making YOUR fair photos better.

Tip 1:  If you're coming to do the lights and rides you need to arrive early before dark.  You should allow time to get here and park and get in the gates and still have time to scope out the shot (or shots) you want to get.  

Tip 2:  Timing is everything! Too early and there is too much light in the sky and the rides don't "pop" shoot too late and the background is just completely black and has no depth.

Tip 3:  Use a tripod. Tripods are a must for this kind of photography.  Your exposure times can be as much as one second and there's just no way to hold the camera still that long by hand. A remote release or using your self timer is another great way to minimize vibrations.  

Tip 4:  Settings:  There is no ONE setting that is right. It depends on what you're going for.  I prefer to shoot a middle range aperture so that there is plenty of depth of focus in the image but also it allows for the longer shutter speeds needed to get some good movement in the rides. Remember that the ISO setting on your camera can really help you, but if you get it set too high, you'll start having a lot of noise and lack that clean, crisp color!  Come on out to the State Fair tonight or tomorrow night.  

Tip 5:  Sunday night will close with Fireworks at about 8:30!  Come out early and get a good spot!

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