Do you want to capture the bright and vibrant atmosphere of amusement parks? You’ve come to the right place!
With the constant movement of rides, enthusiastic crowds, and colorful lighting, there are endless opportunities to create stunning images. But how do you ensure your photos stand out from the pack?
In this article, I share my best tips and tricks for capturing the perfect funfair photos, from choosing the right shutter speed to finding interesting compositions with the crowds – so if you’re ready to level up your amusement park photography, then let’s dive right in!
1. Shoot during the blue hour
While there’s no wrong time to snap some shots, photographing during the “blue hour” – the period just before nightfall – can produce some truly magical results. During this time, the sky takes on a deep, rich blue hue that serves as the perfect backdrop for the colorful lights and attractions of the park.
To make the most of blue hour, it’s a good idea to arrive at the park an hour or more before the scheduled time. This will give you time to scout out the best attractions and plan your route through the park. Take note of what catches your eye and try to imagine the shots you want to take. Planning your compositions in advance will save you time and ensure that you get the shots you’re after; remember that blur hour, while gorgeous, won’t last long!
Additionally, since the light changes quickly during the blue hour, it’s important to keep a close eye on your camera settings. Take a few test shots to determine the right exposure and make adjustments as needed. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different apertures, ISOs, and shutter speeds – as I discuss down below, park photography is a great opportunity to get creative and try something new!
Remember to check your camera’s LCD frequently to ensure you’re getting the look you’re after. Take plenty of shots from different angles and perspectives, and don’t be afraid to play with different compositions. With some careful planning and a bit of patience, you can capture some truly breathtaking blue-hour shots!
2. Decide on your shutter speed
If you plan to photograph during the blue hour, you may find it challenging to achieve a fast shutter speed without increasing your ISO or opening up your lens aperture, both of which come with significant drawbacks. So rather than photograph with a fast shutter, consider using a slow shutter instead.
You see, slowing down your shutter speed can create artistic effects that bring your photos to life. By lengthening your shutter speed to half a second or more, you can add a sense of dynamism, action, and excitement to your images. This is especially important when capturing funfair rides, which can often look static and unimpressive without any sense of movement.
To get the best results, I recommend using a tripod; that way, you can keep the rest of your shot clear and in focus. Shutter priority mode is also a great option for this type of photography as it allows you to adjust your settings easily and quickly as you move from shot to shot. Keep in mind that each ride will be traveling at a different speed, so you’ll need to make adjustments to capture the most powerful compositions.
Lastly, remember to check your images frequently to ensure you’re getting the desired result. That way, you can capture the excitement and energy of these thrilling attractions without ruining batches of photos due to under- or overexposure.
3. Pay attention to the crowds
The amusement park experience isn’t just about the rides – it’s a story that constantly unfolds around you. Don’t get so caught up in the thrill-seeking action that you miss the fascinating things happening at ground level.
Almost everyone at a funfair can make a great subject, and they’ll be bathed in beautiful, atmospheric light from the rides and stalls. Take some time to observe the action, and notice where people naturally gather and engage in interesting behavior.
Look for powerful compositions and position yourself in the perfect spot to capture people enjoying their surroundings. Be prepared to photograph fleeting emotions and fleeting moments (your camera’s burst mode can be helpful here).
Consider using a shallow depth of field to minimize distractions in the background. Trying to get everything in focus can create too many competing elements for your viewer’s attention.
4. Look for unique angles
When you’re at a funfair, you’re bound to see lots of people clicking away with their cameras. You don’t have to compete with them, but it’s always fun to capture at least one truly unique and stunning photo.
Once you’ve taken a few safe shots (the kind you see everywhere online), challenge yourself to look for different angles and perspectives. Here are some cool ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
Look up: Try capturing a ride against the backdrop of the sky to get a unique perspective.
Use the surroundings: Incorporate the architecture and surroundings of the town to add some interest and context to your shots.
Play with your foregrounds: Use different objects like railings, trees, and other elements to create a unique and eye-catching foreground effect.
Go abstract: Experiment with blurring or distorting the image to create something truly unique and abstract.
Include some lines: Add some leading lines in your shot to create a sense of depth and perspective.
By trying out these creative angles and techniques, you’ll be able to capture some truly stunning and unique photos that stand out from the crowd.
5. Try a variety of creative techniques
When you’re at an amusement park, there’s no better time to experiment with creative techniques that you wouldn’t typically use in your photography. The bright lights and exciting atmosphere offer a perfect opportunity to try something new and get that amazing shot.
For instance, you could try the ICM (intentional camera movement) technique, where you set a slow shutter speed (see above!) and then deliberately move your camera during a long exposure to create an abstract shot with a dreamy, artistic feel. Or, for a more dynamic effect, you could experiment with zoom bursts to capture the energy and motion of the rides.
Another fun idea is to create custom bokeh shapes – this allows you to add extra visual interest to your photos. There’s no limit to what you can try, so don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun.
Remember, you don’t have to show anyone your experimental shots if you’re not happy with them. The point is to keep trying new things, and you might be surprised at the beautiful and unique images you can create.
6. Switch to black and white
Amusement parks are bursting with vibrant colors, but sometimes the resulting photos can feel a little too overwhelming. In those cases, why not try a black-and-white conversion? This simple trick can give your shots a totally different vibe.
To decide if a photo is a good candidate for black and white, look for areas with a strong contrast between light and dark. This will help your image avoid looking flat and dull in monochrome. Also, keep in mind that composition is key when it comes to black-and-white photography; make sure your subject is both interesting and well-placed in the frame.
But don’t stop there! Experiment with different edits when converting to black and white. See what happens when you adjust the color channels individually or when you add a dash of Clarity. Of course, the dynamic and ever-changing lights of the amusement park mean that some editing tricks will work better than others, so keep pushing until you hit upon gold!
7. Photograph the funfair during the day
Photographing amusement parks during the day can be just as exciting as capturing them during the blue hour. In other words, don’t limit yourself to shooting only in low light – there are tons of possibilities during the daytime, too!
Instead of focusing on the rides and the thrill-seekers, take some time to observe the workers as they set up for the day. You’ll be amazed at the colors and energy that surround them. And if you’re feeling bold, why not ask some of them if you can take their portrait? This can lead to some unforgettable moments and great shots. Just make sure to get their contact details so you can send them the photos afterward.
By exploring the amusement park during the day, you’ll discover a whole host of subjects you may have never noticed before. (Also, shooting during the day has one clear advantage: much stronger light! If you want to capture show-stopping action photos, daytime photography is the way to go.)
So don’t be afraid to mix things up and try shooting beyond the blue hour. The light may not be ethereal, but you never know what kind of magical moments you might encounter!
Amusement park photography: final words
Capturing beautiful amusement park photos can be an exciting and rewarding experience for any photographer. From the bright lights and colors of the rides to the enthusiastic crowds and unique compositions, there are endless opportunities to get creative with your shots.
Remember to plan ahead, arrive early, and take your time to explore and discover the best locations and compositions. Experiment with your shutter speed to capture a sense of movement and action, and don’t forget to use a tripod to keep your shots steady and clear.
Finally, remember to have fun! Photography is all about capturing the beauty and magic of the world around us, and amusement parks provide the perfect backdrop for doing just that. So go out there, get creative, and capture some amazing shots that you’ll treasure forever.
Now over to you:
Which of these amusement park photography tips do you plan to use first? Share your thoughts in the comments below!