I spent money like crazy the past few years. So in 2014, I am on my “Bread and Water Tour”, which means no vacation trips. So I have to find my 2014 photo ops on a more local scale.
On Thursday, I spotted a carnival setting up in Northtown’s parking lot, located nearby in Blaine, MN. I decided to show up that night for some photography. I had so much fun after that first shoot Thursday, I elected to do another round the next night.
I took 207 initial images over the 2 shoots, cut that down to 36, and finalized those to the 16 you see here.
I was in the mood for some REM, so the music for this page is “Monster”, an excellent CD from 1994. My favorites are “Crush with Eyeliner” and “Circus Envy” (but this is a carnival, not a circus!) but the CD is pretty darned solid. Although I am not a fan of Michael Stipe’s political ideology, he and his band sure made some great music in the past.
This carnival was put on by Gopher State Expositions; more about them later. My first stop was Thursday night so the crowd was pretty thin; the kids had to be in class the next day. That gave me some extra room to work in. All but 2 of these 16 images were taken from a tripod and in full Manual mode.
What is the name of this web site? Showing up just after sunset was going to deliver plenty of blue light, but only in a 15-20 minute window, so I had to work fast. That was another reason for coming back a second night. Anyway, this is the “Zipper”, which did open on Friday night.
Ah, the ever-popular “Tilt-A-Whirl”…glad to see it’s still around.
A look at the Gondola Ferris Wheel, which in 2013, had new lights and colors added to it. Very colorful, indeed!
This ride is called the “Sizzler”, and it looked all of that. I cropped the original shot to this quasi-panoramic.
The “Zipper” in action. Slightly over-exposed, to be sure, but I liked the lighter shade of blue. I could have taken out the branches with Photoshop, but kept them in there for some framing.
One of my 2 hand-held shots; taken with my Tamron tele, which I later clumsily dropped (!), but it seems to be ok. In order to hand-hold this I bumped my ISO up to 1,600 but the image remains very clean. Today’s DSLR’s are amazing that way.
This is called the “Kamikaze”, and was probably the most popular ride. That passenger pod you see on the right gets spun around. This might be my personal favorite shot of the 2 nights. The composition is decent, there is vivid color, wonderful action, and the image is tack-sharp.
There are WWII aircraft drawings on the “Kamikaze”, and some might feel those and the name of the ride itself might be offensive to Veterans who dealt with the real thing. However, I think the name and drawings might get kids interested in learning more about that time period in our history (and the sacrifice our Veterans have made so we can enjoy a carnival like this), so I think they are a good thing. I am not a Veteran, but am a life-long student of WWII Pacific Theater operations, and know a little something about that topic (my car is named U.S.S. Nimitz for a reason).
A row of the 3 most popular attractions. This was originally shot in landscape aspect ratio, but cropped it to portrait aspect ratio in post-processing. The shot retains plenty of resolution despite being trimmed by 2/3rds. Shooting with a 24mp camera has its advantages.
Hungry? It was difficult to stay focused on the photography with these 4 temptations nearby!
For a guy who wanted to shoot more black and white in 2014, I sure picked a crappy place! Look at that color! It was just exploding all around, so I ran with it. I got in close here, and used the natural keystoning distortion of the Tokina Soup Can Stan ultra-wide. Oh yeah, I deliberately snuck in the food advert in the corner to keep up your appetite.
The rides move fast, and you must also move with alacrity to get the blue light before it fades. Here is the “Kamikaze” on Friday night. The 3 second exposure gives us this circular effect. I should also note using the self-timer as a remote shutter release.
As I said earlier, so much for black and white. This is the “Gravitron”, and the bowl on the right hand side was spinning like a top, which made me very happy to be on the outside looking in. Earlier I spoke of the advantages of a higher mp DSLR. Disadvantages include huge file sizes, like this image had.
Meet Baby Bingo the Clown. I had chatted with him earlier and wanted a shot, but the light wasn’t right. Just before I saw him here, I quickly set my D7100 to Full Auto and activated my flash, but I was in too close for the lens I had on. I still like the shot, so here it is.
The “Kamikaze” again, with a rare look at people in one of my images. I had plenty of other portrait opportunities aside from Baby Bingo, but I just could not activate the shutter release. Folks, portrait photography just ain’t my cup of tea.
Back to the Ferris Wheel for my closing shot. I took a collection of them and settled on this one. I think this type of image works better with a black background, versus the blue light I had earlier.
The local patrons looked to be having an excellent time, and this was a fun shoot for me, as well. The excellent staff at Gopher State Expositions delivered a lot of smiles to those attending, and were very friendly to me. I’m happy to plug their enterprise by listing their web site here:
This was a smaller carnival that is not going to compete with Valley Fair or the Minnesota State Fair (duh), but I didn’t see ANYONE who wasn’t enjoying their visit. I say a hearty “well done!” to those from Gopher State Expositions who worked hard to put this together.
I sure enjoyed this shoot, and hope you liked the images.
all images © Scott Woelm – May 2014