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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Come Out to the Arkansas State Fair

State Fair

It's that time of year again. Temps are dropping, hay bails and pumpkins all around. It's time for the Arkansas State Fair. Since 2007, I have had the privilege of being one of the official photographers of the State Fair. As part of my job on the fairgrounds, I photograph contest winners for the Livestock Show, Arts and crafts and others. In addition to those photos, I am challenged with capturing the essence of the fair and to create images to be used in the next year's marketing and advertising collateral. This is a very fun and rewarding project every year. I hope you will bring your family out to enjoy a corn dog or a fried Twinkie and some rides! Be sure and check out the Rock & Roll Museum in Barton Coliseum as well!  Always have your smile on because I might just see you and take your picture!

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Leaving Tracks

There's something enchanting about the converging lines of railroad tracks.  For years photographers have been drawn to them as a key element in portraits.  Did you know that getting on the tracks or even the gravel bed along side them is illegal?  Railroad tracks are private property owned by the railroads and it is considered trespassing to get on their property without permission. In fact, at most crossings where you have easy access to the tracks it is posted. "No Trespassing" or "Private Property" signs will be posted.  Not only is it illegal to be on private property, it is incredibly dangerous. In the past year I have read articles in the news of at least 2 people that were killed by being on the tracks when a train came.  Sometimes they were even out on a trestle where they didn't have time to get off the tracks and had no where to go to get out of the way of the train.  These deaths are completely avoidable. It's simple, DON'T DO IT.  As a professional photographer, I do not do portraits on railroad tracks for that very reason.  Sure, I used to do them but then when it was brought to my attention that it is trespassing, I stopped.  Please do not do these yourself either.  The fines are steep but the injuries are even steeper!

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"This is a Journey Without a Destination"

Tonight I got a shot in the arm of some much needed medicine.  Not the kind of medicine you go to a doctor's office or clinic for but the kind that gives you a boost of purpose, intent, fortitude and tenacity! This weekend was the second annual Bedford Camera & Video (our great local camera chain) Photo Expo.  Last year I had the privilege of speaking at the event and this year I just got to attend.  It's great to see so many photographers and vendors come together and share knowledge and ideas.  Having others in the photographic community ask for my opinion and continue to compliment me on the program I gave last year was a great feeling. 

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Never Stop Learning

It's been said "Once you quit learning, you're dead".  In an attempt to continue giving you the very best in photography services, I have worked to continue my education. Recently, I have started working on a new method of lighting for commercial images.  This technique is called "Painting with Light"  Unlike a traditional photograph which is a single exposure then manipulated for the best overall look, Painting with light uses a variety of exposures/images each one lit with a specific goal in mind.  The benefit of this approach is a wider range of colors, brightness and sharpness.  Check out this example from this weekend's project here. First Security Bank - Little Rock, AR

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