I always love taking photos at the Minnesota State Fair. Though I’ve attended the fair nearly every year since 2000 this is the first year that shot pictures on film.

My early fair photos were all digital. I have no idea what camera I was using at the time. But I particularly enjoyed shooting long exposure shots of the midway rides.

A color, long-exposure photo of a carnival ride showing light trails. The ride is called EXperience.
Want higher resolution? Too bad. This is from a 23 year old digital camera.
A color, long-exposure shot of a Midway ride called Demon Loop. The ride is going in a vertical circle. The left hand of the circle has long blue streaks of light. The right side of the circle has long yellow streaks of light.
Probably the best photo I’ve ever taken at the Fair.

This year I decided to try something different. I wanted to take photos of the people at the fair rather than of the rides.

I knew that I was going on one of the hottest days of the year, so I wanted a light camera. The Bessa 66 is the lightest of my current cameras.

I also knew that I’d be shooting in strong, bright sun and that the Bessa’s slowest speed is 1/100 at f16. I would need a slower film. I had a roll of expired T-MAX 100 that fit the bill perfectly. I metered it at 50 ISO due to age.

The Bessa is a rangefinder camera that offers no mechanism for checking your focus. It has distance marks on the focus ring and a DOF chart on the top of the camera. You figure out the rough distance to your subject, check your DOF and then dial in the focus.

I definitely didn’t want to be messing around with estimating distance at the fair. So I decided to lock aperture at f11 and set the focus to about 12′ to infinity. In sunny conditions I’d shoot at 1/100. In shady conditions I could step down to 1/50 or 1/25. I wasn’t going to do up close street photography with this setup, but I could shoot interesting crowds.

This ended up working about 1/4 of the time. The remaining photos are blurry, though I think that’s due more to me moving the camera than my focus settings. If all the photos were blurry then I’d blame the camera. But if some of the photos are blurry I’m the one to blame.

A blurry black and white photo of three men resting by a Midway carnival ride
f11, 1/50

I think that could have been a good photo had I not messed up the focus. The exposure is fine and I like the composure. All good. Just blurry.

A black and white photo of a multiple generations of a family enjoying the state fair.
f11, 1/100

But they aren’t all blurry! I think this one turned out pretty well. I liked the vibe of this whole group. One of many families out enjoying the Great Minnesota Get Together.

These were shot using a Voigtlander Bessa 66 using expired T-MAX 100 metered at 50 ISO. Developed in Rodinal 1+100 for 14:30 at 24C. Steady agitation for the first minute, one inversion per 30 seconds afterwards. Scanned with an Epson 750.

Full album


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