Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

An American tradition

It’s the middle of August. And across the country counties are organizing their annual fair around the common themes of agriculture, rodeo and an all-around carnival brand of entertainment.

Country music, deep-fried culinary treats and the distinctive smell of farm living permeate the scene. It’s actually a great time to get out a camera or two and catch people enjoying a unique slice of Americana. This batch of photos were taken early in the evening with the sun still well overhead. This creates vivid colors that only grow more interesting as sunset approaches. But shadows still are fairly harsh and care needs to be taken to avoid under- or over-exposing images accidentally as your camera meters for a fast-moving variety of shapes and colors.

Manual settings often work best under these conditions. In this set of photos from the 2011 Clackamas County Fair, I wanted to create a shallow depth of field by using wide-open aperture settings, usually between f2.8 and f3.5 at the narrowest. This made necessary shutter speeds ranging from 1/250th of a second up to 1/1,250th, depending on the area of the frame being metered. ISO was set between 100 and 200.

While the sights presented during the day often are quite compelling, I’m looking forward to tonight, when I’ll be at the fair and rodeo at sunset and under the lights. I’m sure this will produce equally interesting photos, perhaps even superior images depending upon what I encounter. I’ll tell you what, though, the thought of capturing 2,000-pound bulls and their riders under the lights of the rodeo is something I’ll happily be doing from outside the steel fence.

Click on this link to view more images from yesterday’s session.


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