Best of the Tetons, Great Photography Tours In Jackson, WY

Ferris Wheel in Motion

Fair Time!

Teton County Fair Images

Just about every county in the country has a fair during the summer months—and each state hosts a State Fair. You don’t have to come to Jackson Hole and the Tetons to get to enjoy the possibilities!


This year’s Teton County Fair will be held between July 18 through July 27. If you are in the area, don’t miss it. Entry is free in all areas, but there are quite a few events requiring admission. Check the link for specifics.

While I wasn’t “on assignment” last year, I approached the project as if I were! At the time, I didn’t know they’d be used on a blog, nor if very many people would ever see the photos. Best of the Tetons now gives them a permanent home! The concept was to start “wide” and work my way “in” to the small details. There a so many possibilities for fun, creative and sometimes captivating images at a fair. I like going late in the evening to capture the blue light period and all the colorful fair lights, but of course, the fair goes on all day long.

The Rides


Vertigo as the Sun sets: For most purposes, I was early for this shot, but it is still worth taking. The riders and ride turn to silhouettes. Frazier Shows owns and operates the rides at the Teton County Fair.

Vertigo 2

Vertigo: Taken just a little while later and not as much into the sunset. Fair lights were starting to show.

Freak Out

Freak Out: In a small fair, you can sometimes get into places and spaces you might not enter at a larger fair of amusement park.

Vertigo 3

Vertigo: I took a tripod and was able to shoot with longer exposures to capture some motion with blurred elements.

Vertigo Details

Vertigo Details: Darkening blue skies make great complimentary colors for the oranges and lime green colors.

Vertigo in Motion

Vertigo in Motion: There are people in seats in the outer circle, but you’d never know it in this exposure.


Vertigo: This is a similar shot, zoomed in slightly.

Ferris Wheel

Ferris Wheel: This was taken during the blue light period while the Ferris Wheel was stopped. I got close and shot up using a wide angle lens.

Ferris Wheel in Motion

Ferris Wheel in Motion: I tried this shot with both the Merry-Go-Round and the Ferris Wheel in motion, but it was too much!


Ferris Wheel: I used an off-camera strobe to add some fill light on the people on this one.

The Zipper in Motion

Zipper in Motion: The blue light of the sky helped show some of the blurring in this shot.

The Zipper

The Zipper: Detail while the ride was being loaded.


Down the Midway: There were two rides going at the same time for this shot.

Motion Blur - Merry-Go-Round

Merry-Go-Round ~ Motion Blur: Using a tripod, I was able to capture a lot of motion blur on the Merry-Go-Round.

Merry Go Round Frozen Horse

Merry-Go-Round ~ Frozen Horse: This isn’t a “Photoshopped” horse! That night, I took a strobe with me to do a little off-camera strobe shots to freeze a few elements.


Merry-Go-Round ~ Rear Curtain Sync: The plan on these shots was to blur the horses, yet blast them on the front edge with the strobe to freeze a portion. I keep hoping to do a “Rear Curtain Sync” feature post.

Girl In Motion

Girl In Motion: For this shot, I was simply trying to pan with the girl as she zipped by. The horse passes by from left to right, but is also going slightly up and down. Tough challenge!

Horse in Silhouette

Horse in Silhouette: I could have easily splashed some light on this horse with a strobe (and I am fairly sure I did) but I liked the semi-silhouetted version better. There was plenty of ambient light from the Ferris Wheel to give the horse some details.

Riding the Train

Young Rider: This is a photo of our next door neighbor’s grandchild. She asked me to take his photo, so I clipped off a few “snapshots” for her. This would have been a great time for some sort of strobe with a warming filter over it, but this kind of shot wasn’t on my “radar” that night. I typically don’t take a lot of photos of kids at the fair unless a parent gives me permission or unless they will be blurred out of recognition. Maybe part of that comes from shooting stock photos where I needed a model release each time. People can get quite protective of their kids with an adult stranger taking their images. I’d prefer to go “with” a family with kids. Mine are grown!

Night at the Fair

Night at the Fair: This was taken from the parking lot as I walking back to my truck. The fair lasts over a week, so I was able to capture it in a variety of times and light. Interestingly, one afternoon we had a rainbow form over the fair. I drove quickly to a spot to get all of it in the frame, only to find water dripping from my wide angle lens. I had used it earlier in the day and had put it in my jacket pocket. I went out with waders to get low to take some shots of a small riffle in a side channel of the Snake River. The lens apparently dipped into the pool as I focused the camera. I lost a lens and a chance to capture a full rainbow over the fair!


Along with the “big stuff”, I like to photograph the middle and small stuff. The best approach, or at least the one I run through my head at the time, was to think about doing a Coffee Table Book about county fairs. I only scratched the surface by concentrating on the rides, but I could have gone back for the Demolition Derby, Concerts, Animal and Pet Contests, and so forth. Within the midway, I looked for “anything of interest” and experimented with angles, blurs and so forth. I have new concepts in mind for this year, too!

Zipper Sign

Zipper Sign: This one has a static Zipper sign mixed with the motion blur of the lights of the passing carriage.


Letters: The faceted new style of LED lights caught my attention.

Bright Amber Lights

Bright Amber Lights:

Dimming Amber Lights

Dimming Amber Lights: In the old days, the lights were either on or off. Now they can be controlled individually and for the amount of light they emit.

Blurred Zipper

Bokeh: I’d like to try a little more of this kind of shot this year. I adjusted the camera to slightly out of focus.

Rubber Ducks

Rubber Ducks: I thought this pattern was nifty. They were moving at the time, so I used an off camera strobe to freeze them. I might like to use a shallow depth field and shoot at more of an angle to keep only a few in focus. A “tilt-shift” lens would be a great addition for this one.

Rubber Duck Tilt Shift

Rubber Ducks with Tilt-Shift Filter:This is the only image on this page with any kind of special “Photoshop” trick applied. I used the previous image and then applied the new “Tilt-Shift” blur filter to imitate a tilt-shift lens. I like this one better as it isolates just a few of the little duckies.

More Rubber Ducks

More Rubber Ducks: This is more of the shot I had in mind when I saw the moving little ducks. The operator let me get in close with my tripod so I could get a long exposure shot.


Goldfish: Some lucky winner will get to take one of these fish home in a plastic bag.

Faceted Lights

Faceted Lights: Just another view of the new style faceted lights. Earlier, I mentioned I was working my way “in” to the smaller elements at the fair. How far? I could easily worked in to a shot with just one of the faceted lights filling the frame. In the balloons below, I could zoom the way into just the reflected highlights. There are usually lots of textures and patterns worth some time and attention.

Abstract Lights

Abstract Lights: This image is similar to some of the images I took on the 4th of July. Just finds some moving lights and do a long exposure!


Balloons: I chose an area of fully filled balloons for this shot, mainly looking for a variety of colors and patterns. I wonder now if I would have liked seeing one balloon popped?

Horse Head

Horse Head: This was taken with ambient light. I’d love to go back with a “helper” to hand hold a strobe off to one side and rim light it or let light glance across only high spots. This year, I might use a CamRanger and tablet, but I hate to leave the camera and tripod unattended with kids running around. A helper would be much better!

Lion's Head

Merry-Go-Round Lion’s Head: A static shot taken just after sunset.

Lion's Head in Motion

Lion’s Head in Motion: The lion’s head in this shot was “frozen” with the strobe as it passed by, however, with Rear Curtain Sync set in the camera, the passing bulbs had a motion blur tail.

Monkey Prizes

Monkey Prizes: These little guys are looking for a new home. With all the various light sources, many images can take on an odd color shift. I never know whether to adjust to compensate for the shift, or let them carry the color cast. I left it intact here.


Prizes: You could easily fill a card with this kind of photo possibilities. A short zoom lens help isolate specific areas.


Fair Zoom 2006

Long Exposure Zoom: For whatever reason, I didn’t take many zoom shots last year, but I’ve done it many other years. There are lots of possibilities. For this images, I was set up with a body and lens on a tripod set to manual exposure mode. I clicked the shutter and let the inner part of the sign to “burn” into the image, then zoomed out a ways and stopped again. That gave me two sets of bulbs with streaks in between. For abstracts, you just keep moving and/or zooming. You get similar results starting wide and zooming in.

Get Out There!

I’ve been taking fair photos with a digital camera since at least 2006—as seen in the “zoom” image above. Digital photography is great because you can immediately review your images and make changes on the fly. Even more important to me, many of the techniques and concepts I learn while doing fair photography eventually help me in doing other kinds of shots. You can see how zooming here helped this year’s fireworks. Rear Curtain Sync using a strobe has lots of applications. Shoot a lot (experiment a lot) and keep the good ones! Come to the Teton County Fair or go to one in your area. Either way, just shoot and have fun. MJ

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Comments (7)

  1. Donna Dow

    Dang, Mike. Your photography is just plain awesome. Love the shot with the ferris wheel in motion. All of them are great.

  2. Hi Donna, Thanks! I am looking forward to taking more photos at the fair again this year. I want to use more strobes and try a few more techniques. I hope you can go to a local fair and get shots of your own! Don’t miss the Teton County Fair if you are in JH at the time. MJ

  3. Michael

    Great series, Mike. As an ex-carnie (misspent youth!) I suggest that you try to get there around midnight on tear-down night. Many of the rides remain illuminated even as they’re torn down and there’s lots of gritty little tableaus all over the lot as the whole show comes down and is packed onto trucks to head to the next fair to set up and start all over again. Just don’t get in the way and nobody will object to your taking photos.

  4. I’ve been out very early on the morning following the last night of the fair and all of the rides are torn down and ready to roll. I suspect watching that would be a spectacle to behold. Thanks for the note! MJ

  5. Lowell Schechter

    Mike, nice series of images at the County fair. I guess the Chamber of Commerce in the Jackson Hole area try to have a lot things for the folks of jackson Hole and the tourist who visit the area, rodeos, County fairs, and other entertainment . You certainly have the skills to photograph many subjects. this is certainly one of them.

  6. Hey Lowell, Thanks! Happy to hear you enjoyed the photos. I am anxious to go again and try a few more techniques. Last year, I shot mostly the midway and rides. Maybe I should try a few “people” shots this year.

  7. Craig

    Great shots of the fair Mike. I knew when I saw you walking around with the camera and tripod we were in for some interesting photos of the fair. Thanks Craig and Thunder

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