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By Brittani Robinson
The season of fried food, covetable new cars and the biggest cowboy to ever grace a pair of Dickies is upon us. Each year, the State Fair of Texas brings folks out in droves to partake in battered bliss, hair-raising rides and plenty of other unique and entertaining attractions (butter sculpture, anyone?).
With all there is to do and see and eat, the State Fair is also one of the best places to snap some photos. Of course, you won't be the only one wielding your camera or phone in front of Big Tex. Getting great shots could mean battling a few unintentional photo bombers, mustard-splattered pavement and finicky lighting. So before you start snapping away, check out these tips for capturing the best shots at the State Fair of Texas.
Backdrop: Midway Entrance
The Midway has plenty to recommend it: the Top O' Texas Tower, Dentzel Carousel, Texas SkyWay, the Log Flume and, of course, plenty of great grub. But rides aside, the entrance to the Midway has its own allure. The neon tubing was restored in 2012 following a major hailstorm, resulting in a brighter sign, and the rides, both tame and thrilling, loom in the background. To capture the full effect the colorfully illuminated sign and all that lies beyond, take your photos at night. Keep your flash off so as not to interfere with the lights display, and position yourself at an angle, not head on, to capture the full length of the sign. Another option is to use the rule of thirds, angling your shot so you not only get the Midway sign but also the Texas Star Ferris wheel. Like the Midway sign, the Ferris wheel shines at night, with its penetrating LED lights moving leisurely through the sky. Climb on board and get a bird's-eye view of the Midway scene.
Backdrop: Big Tex
For many fairgoers, the first five minutes at the fairgrounds are crucial. First, you get in. Second, you get the coupons. And finally, you walk swiftly (jog?) to get to the only booth that matters: Fletcher's Corny Dogs. Take a shot of your deep-fried masterpiece in front of the stand, mid mustard slathering, and make sure someone captures your first bite. Since the main Fletcher's stand is located near Big Tex, why not share a little corny dog love with the State Fair's favorite cowboy? Use forced perspective, which is a type of optical illusion, to make it appear that you're feeding him a Fletcher's. Be sure to get these shots early in the day, preferably in the morning, to avoid heavy crowds. In case you didn't know, Big Tex is kind of a big deal.
Backdrop: Auto Show
There's nothing like the smell of a brand-new car, and at the State Fair of Texas you'll get your share of whiffs and then some. The State Fair's popular auto display is the largest new-car show in the Southwest, showcasing close to 400 models of cars from automakers around the world. Find a few of your favorite cars and get pics from behind the drivers side along with some detail shots on the outside of the vehicles for a different perspective. Maybe you'll fall in love with a Fiat in the Automobile Building, get swept away by a Lincoln inside the Centennial Building or go all out and get Texas tough in the Truck Zone.
Backdrop: Leonhardt Lagoon
Not everyone who visits the Fair is a fan of fast-moving, high-flying rides. Sometimes you want to take it easy, and the best way to do that is hitching a ride on a Swan Boat. Not only is it relaxing to pedal across the lagoon; it's also incredibly scenic. Get a few shots in front of the boats before boarding, and while inside, pay attention to your surroundings and the juxtaposition of the peaceful lagoon and the action-packed fairgrounds. Just don't forget to pedal!
Backdrop: Hall of State
Inspiring from the outside in, the Hall of State building is one of the most enchanting architectural designs around. To get a good photo, arrive early for optimal light to help you capture the structure's art deco details. Try to find a higher angle that allows you to get a taste of its grandeur. Center yourself between the statue and three doors and shoot upward for a view that'll take your breath away. Sure, there are plenty of other places inside the State Fair of Texas worthy of photo opps. But, for the most part, photos won't do it justice. Being at the State Fair of Texas is about being in the moment--good times, laughter, food that you should only eat once a year and enjoying this slice of Texas with friends and family. That goes much further than a lens.
Brittani Robinson is a freelance writer and operator of Texas Megabites, a food and drinking website.