Carnival At Dusk – Common Photo Themes

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It’s summer!  Summer means many different things to many different people.  But to this photographer, and to many who likely share my opinion, summer means carnivals, theme parks, boardwalk rides, thrills, screams and daytime withering away into the night.  For me, the best time to be in a theme park or a carnival is at dusk.  The lights on the carnival rides are coming up as the sun sets, and for a few moments you get the bright lights upon watercolor skies.  This month, we explore scenes captured at that magical time:  Carnivals captured at dusk.

“Carnival Time…” by Linda Goodhue

"Carnival Time..." by Linda Goodhue

“Carnival Time…” by Linda Goodhue

Linda knows light, so it doesn’t surprise me that she handled this shot to capture the best light that was available.  The long exposure not only got the Spirograph-like pattern of the Ferris Wheel, but it also lightened the sky and captured the lights from the buildings across the water.  I like that she went a little earlier in the evening to get those nice warm tones in the sky.  The lighter sky seems to compliment the colors of this Ferris Wheel.  Another ride?  No thank you; I’m enjoying the view.

“Pleasure Pier, Galveston TX” by John McGraw

"Pleasure Pier, Galveston TX" by John McGraw

“Pleasure Pier, Galveston TX” by John McGraw

I don’t know what that one ride is, but it looks like a sword…and that’s awesome.  But I digress.  I love the way that John got away from the action to capture this.  He put the water in the foreground and the pier looks like it’s resting directly on the horizon.  This really captures the feel of those ocean-side piers:  Joy and thrills mixed with the fresh ocean breezes.  There’s nothing that can top it.  Except, perhaps, a photo that reminds of those feelings.

“Round Up” by Doug Waggoner

"Round Up" by Doug Waggoner

“Round Up” by Doug Waggoner

This is a ride that is possibly a bit too nauseating for me, but I can still admire it’s beauty when captured the way Doug has.  This is one of those rides that has standing boards spread around the outside of the wheel with small gaps between.  Viewed from the outside, the effect is not unlike that of a zeotrope.  The lights are on the inside, and it therefore creates a really cool effect with a long exposure.  Very cool effect.   I also like how he waited until the ride was tilted to create that fine compositional moment.  You go ahead and enjoy that nauseating experience.  I’ll stay here and admire Doug’s perspective instead.

“The Boardwalk” by Brandon Watts

"The Boardwalk" by Brandon Watts

“The Boardwalk” by Brandon Watts

Carnivals, boardwalks and theme parks are all great at making an entrance (in the literal sense).  Brandon, on the other hand, knows how to capture the entrance in all its glory.  I love the pastel colors of the signage and the Ferris Wheel.  The long exposure makes the big wheel much more prominent, filling all the would-be gaps with light.  The framing is a bit unconventional giving an unusual amount of photo real-estate to the asphalt.  But I think it works because of all that beautiful reflected light.

“Ferris Wheel” by Ryan Shaffer

"Ferris Wheel" by Ryan Shaffer

“Ferris Wheel” by Ryan Shaffer

We almost forgot carnival food.  But then Ryan has our bellies rumbling with this mouthwatering capture.  The light is so very dramatic, yielding a somewhat surreal poster-like aesthetic.  This is a long exposure, but much shorter than some of those above.  A cool side effect is that the light trails are shorter and more revealing of the infrastructure, and elements like the flags don’t disappear into a complete blur.  Enjoy the photograph. I’m going to get myself some curly cheese fries and a footlong corndog.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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