Fifty-eight Fotos from Faire

The 48th Annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire


Once again, Faire has returned to Irwindale, and it attracts a generous assembly of good people in a mood for fun, play and silliness. I fit right in. Five of us had good intentions of arriving early for the opening day, but so did many others. Consequently, we got stuck in a long line of cars headed into the parking lot and I was unable to get a good position for photographing all of the opening activities. Soon after we entered "the shire," it was evident that the day would not be so cool as I had expected, and I returned to the car to divest myself of unnecessary garments. Despite these delays, we got under way in good order and enjoyed the sights and activities of the Faire in good company and good spirits. The shire is a meandering trail from the gate to the joust arena. Follow the meandering text below for samples of the day.

Near the Gate

Much in the manner of waiting in line at Disneyland, there is entertainment and plenty to see while waiting for the opening of the Renaissance Faire. There is music, the opening show, and a goodly crowd of people in good humor and fine apparel. Even though I had a limited view of the show, I was able to photograph the two lasses shown at right. They are splendid subjects, and a prelude to a fine day of color photography.

Last year I got nice photos of a man working the loom and another man working clay. This year, in the morning, their positions were admirably held by women. Faire had just opened, and because there was a lot of activity in the area, I had difficulty and limited opportunities to get the photo that I wanted of Complementary Tones. The cool tones of her complexion and clothes are nicely complemented by the warm tones of the loom and background. Because the potter was situated in a corner, there was less acivity around her and the wide-angle lens covers the action without background distractions.

The two photos at left were made later in the day. The man was playing cards, and he is seen here considering his options for play. The last light of the day provided nice light for the woman on the swing with floral adornment. The weaver was photographed in the morning. Her photo benefits from a simple background, and I was able to utilize the lines of her loom to good effect.

Others at Their Work

Work and craft demonstrations were not limited to the gate area. The glass guys put on several demonstrations throughout the day, and their work was available for purchase. They explained the processes and techniques of their craft. They blew glass but they didn't inhale. Perhaps one of them will be president some day.

The ladies of Needle Work and Spinning Wool get soft light from open tents. Like everyone else, they were very gracious in allowing me to photograph them, and went about their work in the face of my inquiries and photography.

No one seemed to tire of answering questions and telling tales about their trades. They know a lot about what they are doing and the old ways of doing it. There is a lot to be said for the modern ways, but the quality of hand work by these people is excellent. Plus, there is a bit of the artist within every piece.

The Shire at Play

Well, of course, the Renaissance Faire is not all work. There is music, dance, and a variety of shows throughout the shire. Much of the entertainment is scheduled on stages, but there always seems to be some spontaneous event occuring off-stage. These unscheduled activities are a part of the adventure of Faire: you never know what will transpire next. Music and dance may be just around the corner, or you may suddenly find yourself in the midst of some comical scene or stunt by actors of Faire. The girl at right looks like she is trying to make sense (it can't be done) of one such event. She is curious, puzzled, and decides to share the weirdness with someone via text message.

Dancers and musicians are more easily understood. When the light is right, they are also more easily photographed. My experiences photographing renaissance faires have led me to pursue good light when and where I find it. That means staying with the moment, because the light will change and the opportunity will be lost an hour—or even minutes—later. Dancing at Sunset, Shadow Dance, and Warm Light on a Hot Fiddler are good examples. The light was good when I found them. Later, the light would be different and, very likely, the performers would be gone. The dancer at left gets warm, late afternoon light for her spontaneous performance, and the fiddler plays a hot tune in warm back lighting.

The Queen

She was at once elegant and playful. Her red hair in curls, big eyes, and expressive smile yielded nice photographs. With cameras directed toward her—and there were many—she was both subject and ruler. She was easiest to photograph at her court, where she could be isolated against a complementary background. Her arrival at the shire caused quite a stir. I was not expecting her, and with a short lens on the camera (I had been photographing the potter), I was not able to isolate her from the crowd. However, the photo shows part of her entourage and we can get a sense of the activity around her. And there's also that amused smile.

Two Fyne People of Faire

The girl peering through her headdress was with a dance troupe. I didn't see her dancing, but she had learned the value of eye contact from her association with the performers. Her interest encourages our interest when we view the photographs.

I photographed the man at right last year, with insufficient attention to the background. I didn't know what my chances were of seeing him again this year, but my wife noticed him and these two photos are the result. He is an immovable rock of a man in the photos. In person, he was congenial and very busy as a popular subject for cameras at faire.

The Food Court

The food court covers a large area about midway through the shire. Here can be found all manner of enticements to the palate. Rogues and wenches alike prepare and sell their food. My two photos of rogues were too dark to even attempt to rescue. I had left exposure compensation on at two stops under. At the Nut Hut, I photographed Mother and Daughter. The Hut was very small with very limited options for position and background. I'm not keen on the split light and dark wall behind them, but they are a lovely and personable pair and their merriment is genuine. The daughter, on the right, was selling tamales last year. Sadly, the tamale house was gone this year (my wife and I always chose that for lunch), but at least this lovely lass was present. If I were giving Fashion Awards, she would receive one. The magenta blouse complements her complexion exquisitely, and the green provides counterpoint in color. I would like to return and have an opportunity to photograph her again with more time and attention to detail, as I did this year with the gentleman of White on Black in the section above.

I especially like getting photos such as Amused at Faire. Without knowing what she is observing, from her expression we can reliably expect that it is something quite silly and quite Faire. As much as anything else, it is the playfulness of Faire that brings people back year after year.

Strolling the Shire

There is no shortage of things to see and learn while walking through the shire. Entertainers and craftsmen abound, and there is also a plethora of characters to behold. They range from paupers to royalty and from silly to serious (although "serious" is open for debate). They are dressed magnificently. Even peasants and pirates look grand. They are all of gracious character and in a mood for play, and their colors and personalities deliver fun and interesting photographs. This page concludes with an assortment of people found at the 48th Annual Renaissance Pleasure Faire. A special thanks from me to them for being part of a merry day. Huzzah! God Save the Queen! Be well! And whatever stays to say at Faire.

Braids Piratical Walking Tall Ankle Henna Mending Fine Beard at Faire Making Paper Pulp Crucible Huzzah!
Pleasant Lass Trying a Hat Happy Couple Enjoying the Show Card Tales Laughter Thinking Inside the Box Boo

Images Copyright © Ed E. Powell
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