Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

An American tradition Part 2

This post expands on the previous theme of the traditional American county fair. In Clackamas County, Oregon, this remains alive and well with the annual Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo. It’s a community newspaper staple, as well as a great environment for photographers to capture colorful images of people in a festive mood.

As the staff photographer for the Wilsonville Spokesman, this event is one of my favorites each summer. In the past, I’ve taken the time to shoot photographs during the day, often under harsh mid-day conditions. This was partly a result of scheduling and a lack of concern over the final outcome. This year, I decided things would be a bit different.

In the first set of county fair photos, viewable here, I paid a visit to the fairgrounds early in the evening to ensure better lighting than during previous fair sessions. While better than past results, I really was looking ahead the low-light possibilities afforded by the numerous colorful amusements, booths and rides.

The following night was a Friday and I planned to visit both the fair and adjacent Canby Rodeo, an altogether different challenge. I wasn’t disappointed.

I started with the rides as the sun finally sank low enough to bring out a sky ranging from light blue to deep purple in color. It was the perfect slice of time between sunset and true night for this type of work. Starting with the spinning hammer ride below, I worked my way around the amusements.

With the exception of the final photo, which came about as I was leaving for the rodeo, these are all handheld images (not ideal for this type of work) with exposures of two seconds or slightly longer. With the aperature set between f11 and f14, depending on the length of exposure, and the ISO set between 100-200, the resulting images provide as much color as the camera can handle without losing much, if anything, in the way of highlights.

The final photo in this group happened almost by accident as I was leaving the amusements area for the rodeo. I noticed the water gun target shooting game actually had a full compliment of players, and figured it would make an interesting shot.

As I positioned myself to make use of the leading lines provided by the game itself, I was drawn to the concentration on the face of man wearing the plaid shirt. He kept staring intently at the target as he worked. His lack of movement allowed for a relatively slow exposure of 1/30 of a second, enough to properly expose the background and utilize the deep indigo sky behind him. To me, it says a lot about the nature of the county fair and the people who enjoy this event.

In my next post I will share the images I shot under exceedingly poor lighting at the Canby Rodeo. In the meantime, here is a slideshow of the fair at night on my Flickr page.


2 responses

  1. Very nice work, Josh!

    August 22, 2011 at 17:54

    • Thanks, Dave, I appreciate it. And despite the scenery in the valley, I still miss the coast for gorgeous photos.

      August 22, 2011 at 19:34

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