A Little Bit of Summer


It’s summer here in southern California, Santa Barbara to be exact, and this week the southwest was hit with a big ‘ol heat wave. Near record highs in Death Valley and other local areas. But yesterday, Monday, things cooled down just a bit as a low-pressure front came in off the Pacific. Even at mid-afternoon, a soft light bathed the beach.

Again with the Fair

Ventura County Fair

Though still hot and dry in Southern California, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. To celebrate I bring you a few images I shot at the Ventura County fair in August.

As I was editing these, I heard the voice of Jay Maisel as he reviewed the 10 images I had brought from home for his workshop in New York. At about the 3rd image with a fair theme he said: “Again with the fair?” (or maybe he said “Again with the circus?”). This is how different it is to live in California. Today I will head to Santa Barbara and take images of the California scene. Shorts and tee-shirts, sand and surf. The fair, the circus, or just the leisure life of Southern California.

Ventura County Fair

Ventura County Fair

Ventura County Fair

Ventura County Fair

Fair Nights Noir

Fair Foods
Fair Foods by I Nancy, on Flickr

This is a short series of the Ventura County Fair in B&W. I visited the fair twice this year. The first visit was primarily intended as a night to look over the Photography exhibit and to see how I did (2 – 1sts, 1 – 2nd, and 2 Honorable Mentions – thank you). I spent some time that night also shooting but had a very limited amount of time. I wrote up one shot from that first night a few posts ago.

The first round of shooting got my juices flowing for the use of light, color, and the wonderful vendors. This prompted me to set up a second night coordinated with a bunch of my photo friends. I knew I wanted to get more of the vendor booths. Little, outrageous, gems of architecture. Glowing with lights and serving up fabulously bad food. I wanted to catch their quirky characteristics. I was thinking about more HDR set with a low, wide angle. I shot the night away.

When I got home, I was surprised that I was not as happy with these images as I would have liked. Even with the combination of the color and the exaggerated angle they seemed boring. I was disappointed. As a few days went by and I couldn’t let these images go. Something inspired me to test these images out in B&W instead of the HDR I had planned. Voila! They came to life.

I think I need a photography psychologist to help me unravel this one. My list of things to portray as I shot centered around the lights and the color. Subconsciously I was pushing the envelope on angle and view and I guess it is the angle and view, with the color subdued, that really brought out the feeling I was after. What do you know?

I hope you enjoy this excursion to the strange and odd food venues of the summer fair.

My Dogs are the Best
My Dogs are the Best by I Nancy, on Flickr

Summer Fair Night
Summer Fair Night by I Nancy, on Flickr

Rainbow Candy
Rainbow Candy by I Nancy, on Flickr

It’s About Feet

Martha Graham FeetMartha Graham Feet by I Nancy, on Flickr

As I wandered around the Santa Paula Citrus Balloon Festival a couple of weekends ago, my eyes and mind were busy processing the sights and sounds looking for the essence of summer fair goodness. Daytime activities included parachute jumpers, stunt plane flyovers, fair games, food, and a big open circle that was a magnet for playing children and adults alike. Night time was dominated by the balloon glow activities.

As I watched people interacting, their activities as well as their, often painted, faces spoke to me about the mood and activities. I took a bunch of shots following people around the playing field and concentrating just on their feet. What were they doing? What was the motion? What did this express? This woman, and her gingham dress, caught my eye as belonging to another place, another time. But there she was playing wiffle-ball with her friends. Her skirt flowing with her moves.

Pick Up Game

The children were a fun subject too. This boy’s parents were trying to teach him how to kick the ball, but all he really wanted to do was pick it up and throw it. Eventually he got the hang of it, playing with another child. I loved the “golf-pants” on the the further boy.

Kick Game

My mental list for this set of images included feet, action, play, summer. I spent the time during these shoots at foot level with a 70-200mm lens. I wanted to be far enough away, so as to not interfere with the action. I also wanted to use the narrow slice of depth of field to focus the viewer in just on the feet. I think in the Kick Game I may have gone a little too narrow with the DOF and wish that both sets of children’s feet were in focus. This may just be a sketch image for a future opportunity.