Category Archives: Street Festivals

Street Festivals

I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of street festivals; in fact I probably would not go out of my way to find a street festival but on a weekend with nothing to do, they can often fill the void.

Scot Free 1
I gave Scot a few dollars for his wonderful  performance

A couple weeks ago my mother said “hey let’s go to the Polish festival”. Now it was not a totally random thing, we were planning to meet up with some family friends who are polish. We had them over for a BBQ and they wanted to repay us for the favour. Unfortunately, things did not pan out, our friend who is a real-estate broke ran into an emergency and needed to quickly close a deal, so my mother and I found ourselves wandering the streets of Roncesvalles on our own.

No big deal though, there was plenty to do and see. The first act we saw was by a street performer called Scot Free who not only was witty and entertaining but did some things I can only describe as daring. Between juggling knives, torches and chainsaws, he also insisted that watch him swallow fire. What made Scot the perfect subject for some photos was that he was very energized, he had tons of facial expressions, physical actions, bright high contrast clothing and was surrounded by awed onlookers.

Scot Free 6
Scott Free – ISO 800, f/3.5 @ 1/800th of a second

Catching this action required some camera settings I don’t often use. I took a few photos at ISO 100 f/2.8 1/150th of a second, which was fine when Scot paused for a moment or I needed some motion blurring of his action. I also set the camera in multi-frame mode for speed shooting, this way I could bang off 6 – 9 shots in 1-2 seconds if I really wanted to capture those key millisecond moments.

The glasses make this shot!

Once Scot really got into his act, I needed more shutter speed to freeze time. I’ve heard photographers say all they need is 1/200th of a second to capture the motion of any living creature. I call that a bunch of BS, if you really want to freeze time 1/500th of a second is only scratching the surface for slow things. You really need to be around 1/800th of a second or faster once you get people/animals/objects that are really moving and 1/1000th of a second and faster to start freezing inanimate objects like speeding cars, airplane props, explosions and very fast land creatures like birds diving and cheetahs running or horses galloping.

For Scot, 1/800th of a second at ISO 800 with an f/3.5 shutter for added sharpness was perfect. I was able to catch him in the act quite literally as he busked.

Moving on, street festivals bring out not only professional performers like Scot, but they also seem to attract the more interesting people you probably would not otherwise normally see. While enjoying a Polish band playing some traditional English disco tunes, I spotted a blue and orange, well dressed, retired hipster dancing up a storm. I had to grab a photo and truth be told, he seemed to care less; he was having a good time and dancing up a storm!

Tom Jones – unofficially

A little further down the road, I heard the echoing voice of Tom Jones blaring. Sadly, it was not the real Tom Jones, but a cover act doing a good job of reproducing the melodic tunes he’s known for and just like before, it was quite a show with the crowd getting involved.

Lastly, beyond all the people at street festivals, performers, singers, and entertainers alike, these places seem to provide plenty of opportunities for macro food photography and even some generic street shots.

While walking we found this Mexican dessert stand (yes, at a Polish festival) and boy was the chocolate filled pastry delicious! The whole pile of it sitting on a basket at the vendors table also made for a cool macro shot. The owner was curious as to why I wanted a photo of a bunch of pastry in a basket, I guess he was just perplexed since most people seem to want to just eat it. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to it too but I just wanted a macro photo before I did so.

Mexican dessert, yummy!