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The San Diego County Fair
Posted by: Dale Franks on Sunday, June 18, 2006

For the first time in several years, The Lovely Christine and I were able to go to the San Diego County Fair. We'll pay for it tomorrow, in terms of the work backlog we'll have to clear, and the pictures we have to process, but we were glad to be able to go today. The fair opened late last week at the Del Mar Race track, which doubles as the county fairgrounds.

The Logo for the fair is kind of odd this year. As you can see, it looks like something that is more approriate to 1968 than 2006, but I guess the retro-60s stuff is hot right now.

When you go through the main gate, This is the view. Lot's of nice palm trees, and really lots of people. I was surprised that it wasn't more crowded than it actually was, though.

One of the big things at the fair this year is that the famed mural artist Wyland is there this year, and the day the fair opened, he began painting one this mural on the side of one of the exhibit halls. The fair is also featuring a display of Wyland's work. He's also the guy who came up with the groovy fair logo for this year.

It wouldn't be a county fair, of course, unless barnyard animals of various stripes were represented. Judging from the foam flecking this bull's mouth, I can only assume that we got there just in time to capture the judging for the rabid cow event.

A closeup of another bull shows some sort of mucus or other fluid oozing from the bovine's nose. Working with farm animals always seems to involve dealing with a variety of animal fluids, none of them good. If the fluids aren't oozing or spurting out of one end, they're coming out the other.

One of the big attractions of the fair is the easy availability of foods that generally can't be procured for the rest of the year. And that's probably a good thing. Consider the example above: the humble potato. It's not enough that that this starchy tuber packs enough carbs to send a diabetic into a coma. At the fair, the potato is sliced into thin sheets, each of which are dipped into a thick batter, then deep fried. As if that wasn't enough, the resulting product is then drenched in ranch dressing and cheese sauce. The only way this could possibly be any worse for you is if it was fried in beef tallow, instead of vegetable oil.

It tastes wonderful.

Also wonderful is the deep-fried garlic-battered artichoke hearts, the deep-fried Dutch funnel cakes, the deep-fried twinkies and snickers bars, and the fried chicken (with skin, of course). Are you beginning to see a common thread in the food preparation procedures at the fair?

Today was, by the way, Gospel Music Day at the fair, so there were several very good gospel groups playing. There was even a gospel rap group there. Oddly, the gospel rap group was booked into one of the beer gardens, which didn't seem...right, for some reason.

One of the attractions at the fair is that, for $35, you can do a bungee jump, like this young gentleman. Is it just me, or is there something about a carny bungee jump that's kind of scary? The workers all wear shirts that say "Safety First". They're also quick to point out that they are inspected by the state on a regular basis, which, somehow, doesn't really increase my confidence level.

I'm not perfectly satisfied with this photo, for reasons I'll explain in a bit.

I liked this shot from the midway because I really like the colors. It's not as good in this small web format, but the colors of this midway game are very bold. It looks much nicer in large format.

Like the bungee jump, most of the rides on the midway seem to consist of different ways of spinning people around along three axes. It seems that the point of the fair is to bloat yourself with masses of fried foods, then get on rides to see how your meal looks coming back the other way.

One of the rides is a log flume ride. this little fellow got on the ride alone, a decision that it looks like he's now regretting. He's got a kung-fu death grip on those side rails.

This one of those rides where you get lifted up way in the air, then get a 100-foot free-fall drop. Judging from these people's reaction, it looks like quite a lot of fun. By the way, note that the lady is shoeless. There were a lot of shoeless people on the rides for some reason.

This is a picture from a martial arts show. These young martial artists were quite good, and very athletic. I was able to get backstage to see some of the "swords" they were using. They were all sheetmetal props. You couldn't kill a hamster with one of those things.

There's something sad about an alpaca after its wool has all been shaved and gathered. It looks like nothing so much as a forlorn, deformed poodle.

When night falls, the fair takes on a different look. Everything is all spangly, with bright lights, sort of like a redneck Las Vegas.

Shooting at night means that you have to use a much slower shutter speed, even at high ISOs. I shot this one at 800 ISO, with a shutter speed of about 1/50. The nice thing about this is that the ride's movement gives a lot of motion blur, even while the surrounding environment is still sharp and clear. That makes the picture more dynamic. You know that there is something moving with a fair amount of speed.

This also highlights why I'm not, at the end of the day, really happy with the bungee-jumping picture. when you shoot the bungee jump, not only is the jumper moving, but you're also moving the camera to track the jumper. As a result, if you don't use a high shutter speed, it's impossible to get a usable picture, because everything is blurry. Stationary things are blurred because the camera is moving, and the jumper is blurred because he's moving. In order to get a picture, you have to freeze the action. But, that means that the jumper is frozen, too, so you don't get the dynamism, or sense of motion. It's unavoidable, but the resulting picture is more boring.

But this does point to one of the mistakes that beginning photographers make, which is, when shooting a moving object, like, say a helicopter, they are afraid of motion blurring, so they shoot at a shutter speed so fast that it freezes everything. You can make the picture more interesting by slowing the shutter speed down some, so that you get motion blur in the rotor blades, while keeping the rest of the picture sharp.

The fair is chock-full of local businesses showing off their wares. This is a shot of a vendor booth that sells oddly designed lamps. I really like the resulting light effects this produces.


Near the end of the day, something odd happened.

The Lovely Christine was off on her own taking pictures at one of the booths, which sold jewelry. When she did so, the owner, a very large woman, came out of the booth and began yelling at Chris. The owner demanded that Chris erase the picture of her "copyrighted jewelry designs".

Keep in mind that this woman is displaying her jewelry in public, and on public property.

Chris told the woman "no", and began to move away. the woman grabbed Chris' arm, and yelled at her, "Taking pictures of my jewelry is a copyright violation, and you will erase that picture!" Chris got kind of freaked, broke away, and came over to me, where I was just out of earshot.

The first I knew anything was amiss was Chris coming up to me and grabbing my arm, immediately follwed by with this woman shrieking, "I'm gonna call security and have you thrown out if you don't erase that picture!" The woman then began yelling at me that Chris took a picture of her copyrighted jewelry. Being a people person, I said, "So what?"

"That's a copyright violation!" she yelled.

"Uh, no, it isn't. You're displaying it on public property. You can't prevent people from taking pictures!"

"Oh yes I can! You can't violate my copyright!"

She then moved off, yelling, "Security!"

Since were standing by a side door, Chris just went out the door. I followed her, and asked why she left. Chris said that she was afraid of being thrown out of the fairgrounds, and she wanted to take more night pictures.

I went along, but after a little bit, I convinced her that she had done nothing wrong, and that no one was going to kick us out of the fairgrounds for taking pictures. Since there was more stuff to take pictures of in the pavilion, one of which was the lamp picture above, we went back to finish taking pictures in the display hall. We worked our way through the stuff we hadn't seen in the hall, and ended up back to where we were when the woman first went ballistic.

As soon as the woman saw us, she yelled, "Yes!" She immediately grabbed two sheriff's deputies who happened to be strolling by at the time. As we approached, she was gabbling at the deputies that she wanted us thrown out of the fair and pointed at us. One of the deputies motioned us over and I walked over. The deputy asked what the problem seemed to be.

The woman yelled, "They took a picture of my jewelry!"

To quote Douglas Adams, both deputies began looking at her as if she'd just asked them for a weasel.

One of the deputies said, ""

"And they refused to erase the picture! I demand that they erase the picture of my copyrighted jewelry!"

Both deputies looked at the woman as if she'd just asked for a lightly grilled weasel, with fries.

"Ma'am, you're displaying your jewelry in public. Are you saying that nobody can take pictures of your jewelry?"


"Well, ma'am, people can take pictures of anything they want. You can't prevent people from taking pictures."

The woman, looked at the deputy in stunned silence for a second, then said to the two sheriff's deputies, "I still want security here right now!" Because, you know, if sworn law enforcement officers aren't doing what you want them to do, it's time to pull out the big guns: unarmed security guards.

The deputies looked at each other for a second, then one of them told her, "OK. Then go get 'em."

"Aren't you going to make them erase the picture?" she asked stunned.

"Ma'am, people can take pictures of anything they want."

Then one of the deputies asked me to step aside, and explain what was going on, while the other one stayed to talk with the woman.

I told him what happened, and added that it doesn't matter if her jewelry is copyrighted. As long as we don't use the picture for commercial purposes, her copyright hasn't been violated. And in that event, her cause of action would be a civil claim in federal court. It wouldn't be a criminal or state matter in any case.

I then added that, if the lady really wanted to call security and cause a problem, then we would press charges for assault, since she physically grabbed Chris. I said it was the end of the day, and we were about to leave anyway, but if we were gonna be escorted out by security, then we would press charges, and she would be escorted out in handcuffs. If she wanted to play games, we were more than willing to play games.

At about that time, the other deputy came over, and said, "She's upset because they took a picture. And she's a bitch!" He looked over at Chris and I and said, "Sorry, I shouldn't've said that."

The deputy I was talking with said, "Look, just go on with what you're doing. We'll talk to her and tell her that she can't stop people from taking pictures, and that she certainly can't physically assault people, or she'll to jail. Sorry about this, folks."

So, we went our separate ways, and the deputies went back to talk to the woman, a conversation that it didn't appear she was enjoying.

It was just a wierd end to an otherwise good day. For that very odd and aggressive woman, I'm sure it was a deeply disappointing end, too.

She was so sure she was going to have the deputies confiscate our cameras, or force us to erase the pictures, and throw us out of the fair, only to be told that, not only would be keeping our pictures, but unless she calmed down, she might be going to jail. I can only imagine—and savor—her deep disappointment.

Some people are frickin' strange.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

So where are the pictures of the copyrighted jewelry?
Written By: DF
URL: http://
Over here in Texas, at fairs and special shindiggs you can buy (I kid you not)
DEEP FRIED Oreo Cookies, fried in tempura batter, then covered with powdered sugar. And yes, they are sublime.
Written By: kyle N
I’m shocked, SHOCKED that you would show a picture of a display glorifying the horrible Australian practice of potato battering! Isn’t our treatment of animals cruel enough without inflicting such callous and inhumane torture on tubers and other lifeforms incapable of either fight or flight? I am ashamed of you! Battered potatos are victims, not victuals!
Written By: D.A. Ridgely
URL: http://
I’m shocked, SHOCKED that you would show a picture of a display glorifying the horrible Australian practice of potato battering!
Funny where are minds are on things like that, isn’t it? First thought in my mind was "Leave it to the Ausies to beat up a potato and sell it as food".

Then I thought, "Oh, that kind of batter!"

Written By: McQ
I can tell you why she was so upset Christine was taking pictures of her designs. The craft biz is one where copyright violations are pretty routine. People are always copying each other’s designs, and it’s considered rude (though not uncommon) for another crafter to come in and take pictures of someone else’s designs for the express purpose of copying them to sell. Jewelry is especially competitive, since it is easy to copy the designs. Any good juried show will limit the number and type of jewelry vendors to avoid the entire show being identical beaded jewelry. So anyone who copied this lady’s copyrighted designs and tried to sell them would make it harder for her to apply as a vendor for shows.

The problem with the lady is that she forgot that taking a picture is not the same as making copies of her jewelry to sell. She has probably had difficulty with people copying her jewelry before, and thought Christine was another crafter poaching on her territory.

In the future if you’d like to take pictures of a crafter’s wares, it might be useful to ask their permission first, to let them know that you’re not a crafter, and to tell them that you just want to take pictures because you think their wares and/or display are beautiful and artistic. Of course you don’t legally have to do any of that, but it would certainly make things smoother from a social standpoint.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
P.S. I should let you know that some craft shows (though not all) prohibit the taking of pictures to prevent design poaching, but this is usually posted at the door of the show. That may explain why the lady thought security would throw you out and confiscate your picture.
Written By: Wacky Hermit
Maybe. But we were wearing Media badges, so it was pretty obvious that we weren’t there as fellow crafters.
Written By: Dale Franks

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