I went to the 2016 Tewkesbury Mop Fair on Friday 7th October. Having researched artists like Robert Vali (Event Research (blog)) before I went, I had an idea of the kind of images I wanted to produce. I wasn’t expecting the images to turn out very well as I haven’t shot in such low lighting before and my ISO doesn’t go very high. I was therefore expecting the images to be very noisy. Equally, I haven’t done much work with shutter drag and I wanted to experiment with it.
I wanted to try and use flash because I was aware that lighting was going to get worse throughout the night. As much as I wanted to successfully photograph the bumper cars, I found that when using flash, the cars flashed back the light too much for my liking. However, if I photographed them without the flash, the images were far too dark. I didn’t have much success with using flash that night, so I instead tried to use the available lighting with a high ISO and low F stop.
As there were a lot of neon style lights around due to the nature of a fair, the available light enabled me to take some more fun images with different colour schemes in each, as you can see in the above two images.
For the first image, I surprisingly used a fairly low ISO of 400 with a shutter speed of 1/125th second and a wide F stop of 4.3 which made the image bright enough to see detail.
I used a slightly higher ISO of 800 in the second image as it was later in the evening so it was beginning to get dark. Again, I used a wide F stop of 4.3 to make the image bright enough. I also used a slower shutter speed (1/50th second) to allow more light into the sensor and made the image bright enough. I really like the contrast in light colours in this image, even more so as it gives the image a definite focal point.
In these two images, I tried to be more creative with the light sources available. The first image is a reflection of the lights in a window. I found it particularly difficult to get this image as the first few attempts were too dark to see the detail in the lights. I played around with my shutter speed and ISO to make the image bright enough because I was so determined to get the picture. In the end, I used an ISO of 800 and a shutter speed of 1/25th second. Again, the slightly slower shutter speed allowed more light into the camera.
As previously mentioned, I struggled to get successful pictures of the bumper cars; so instead I took pictures of the lights above them. I particularly like the pattern that these lights create. Again, the first few images were too dark so I had to try and find the best setting on my camera to show the vividness of the lights. I used an ISO of 500 and a shutter speed of 1/160th a second. This is the fastest shutter speed I used all night surprisingly.
To my surprise, I really enjoyed taking portraits of the stall owners there. I usually don’t enjoy portraiture very much so I was shocked. I tried a combination of portraits with flash and without. I personally found that the images using flash looked a little flat generally. However, I like how sharp the image on the left is. As well as that, the colourful background enable the subject to really stand out.
In contrast, the image on the right is using the lighting of the fair. I personally think that the image is a little too saturated, however it also gives the image more atmosphere and context. I used an ISO of 1600, so I’m a little surprised at the lack of noise in the picture.
This is my personal favourite image of the night. I like the depth of field and the vibrant colours in it. The image is also completely in focus. As I took this image nearer the start of the night, I used a low ISO of 400 and a fast shutter speed. I tested the light with some tester shots as I was approaching the subject as I didn’t want to be under pressure to figure out lighting when I was taking a photo of him. I think this worked well as I knew the lighting was right when I was ready to ask, so I was less panicked and stressed.
Finally, inspired by Robert Vali’s long exposure shots, I experimented with shutter drags on rides as it got darker. This was, in my opinion, the most successful image of the longer exposure shots I tried. It was taken using an ISO of 200 and a shutter speed of 1/5th second. Although the shutter speed wasn’t very long, due to the speed of the ride it created movement drag.
Overall I’m surprised at how successful the shoot was, and although I’d like to try longer exposure shots again, I discovered that I actually enjoy portraiture at events like this. Asking for portraits is also encouraging me to be more confident in myself and my abilities as a photographer.