pretzel merchant photo Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Beatrice Benedick.

Paul took many wonderful shots at the Oregon Renaissance Fair, as you may have seen on this blog this past week. Many of them exemplified his talent for using 55mm focal length to make colors vibrant and pop off the photo as if taken on Kodachrome. Those images are rich and immersive.

But my favorite image of the set doesn’t have that trademark color. The light is actually a bit hard, making the blues more elemental and muted. But if the blues of the photo had been very strong, they would have dominated the photo in great contrast with the almost severe look on his face. (And that face has so much subtext and complexity.) Unlike a fairy princess or the queen, neither his character nor his outfit is made to garner attention, and the color of the photo truthfully reflects that.

I think the framing is also critical here. Too close and the picture becomes too on-the-nose, like a dour portrait with overwrought emotion. Too far and the surrounding fair (and its patrons) could take the focus away from him, or, worse, make his emotion seem melodramatic or silly. Instead, just enough of him is exposed to honestly reveal a working man on the job.

How would you edit this photo?

a trio of musicians play at the Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro
The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

My first thought when shooting this photo was for it to be a silhouette. But then I thought color and vibrancy was a good way to go so highlights were dropped and shadows boosted. A lot of photography and post-processing is subjective, so what would you have done with it?

Would you have opted for a silhouette? Would you have cropped out the violinist and focused on the two guitarists? Soft, sharp? Whatever choice you would have made, there is no hard right or wrong answer in my opinion. There are only guidelines and what looks good.

As for the trio you see here, they were a delightful sounding group at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro. Regardless if you’re into renaissance fairs or not (I had never been to one before), I highly recommend taking your camera to such an event. The people there lack photo inhibitions and the costumes are worth the time by itself.



Rebel poses for a portrait photo at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

“So what kind of sorcery is that?”

“I’m here to steal your soul,” I said in reply to this stranger dressed as a pirate.

“Aye, not without a fight!”

So this man named Rebel, in full character and accent, proceeds to walk towards me with the posture of a swashbuckler looking for a sword duel. In response I do what I enjoy and what he expects, and that is press the shutter button. It was spontaneous, fun, and it led to the fantastic shot you see here.

This was typical of my experience at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro last Saturday afternoon. The players and guests in costume were colorful in appearance and vibrant in personality. Everyone from the Wonder Wheel operators to the pretzel merchant stayed in character and welcomed the camera.

It was sweet and innocent. The photos came out wonderfully. As for Rebel here, he was simply great.