NY Renaissance Faire

September 2009

Tuxedo Park, NY

Here are some shots of my visit to the New York State Renaissance Faire. The Faire runs from August through the middle of September in Tuxedo Park, NY. This year, the day on which I went was dreary. It was a photographic challenge. See if I succeeded.

The people organizing the event dress in period costumes and act out a series of day-long plot-driven skits, culminating in a joust at the end of the day. Visitors are encouraged to dress up too. If you do, you can't help but feel drawn into the festivities.

You get to be somebody else for a day, which is a nice way to get away from the strains of everyday life. It seems to be especially fun for kids. Little boys ran around with wooden swords. Girls wore flowers in their hair. And all wanted to help rescue Robin Hood from clutches of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.

Click on the thumbnail to see the larger image. The images on this page are low resolution. High resolution shots are available to those pictured. E-mail me. All are copyrighted according to the Creative Commons license described on my main photo page.

The procession of lords and ladies. This year's story line revolved around an overall theme of an international competition of knights. The sub-theme had to deal with evil folk trying to defeat good folk.
More lords and ladies in the procession.
I should have learned the name of this lord. He is addressing the gathering, announcing gifts from foreign dignitaries. The highlight was the gift from the King of Sweden, which was a chest of drawers that required some assembly, wouldn't you know? Sitting behind him is Queen Elizabeth.
Will Scarlet during the entry ceremony. He was one of Robin Hood's merry band. However, he was also a knight for Queen Elizabeth who competed in the games. More of him later.
The Queen addressing the gathering.
Musical performers for a Madrigal. If one looked closely, these actors had other roles in the day's drama. They had multi-tasking in the Renaissance too!
One of the dancers in the Madrigal. This lady was with the representative of the French court who was a foppish, arrogant villain.
Will Scarlet again. Waiting for the action to start at Robin Hood's Bridge. As with past years, it was the first of many encounters between the scheming sheriff and Robin Hood.
Speaking of Robin Hood, there he is (fist raised) with a few of the band on the aforementioned bridge.
I'm not sure who this is. It was during the first living chess match. The individual with the black hat was one of the sheriff's henchmen. I believe that there was some kind of romantic conversation going on here.
A march of the peasantry. On this dreary day, it was impressive that this many people in costume could gather in one place.
The first demonstration of horsemanship was a series of games of knightly prowess. The winner was... oh you probably guessed.
Another of the competing knights.

The games culminated in a short joust.

As a photographer, I must say that it is very difficult to get a good shot of a joust. On this day, the light was poor (worse later). Over the course of the jousting shots to follow, I will point out some of the other difficulties for those who are interested. In this one, the factors were: (1) lance level (check), (2) horse looking like it's actually charging (not too bad), (3) pleasant background (miss), (4) important stuff in focus (so-so)

The point of impact! Factors here are (1) controlled blur with the primary subject in sharp focus (not too bad), (2) horses looking like they're actually charging (pretty good), (3) pleasant and non-distracting background (okay), and most importantly (4) the lances actually make contact with shields or armor and explode into impressive showers of splintered shards (uh).
Man and horse. I was trying to demonstrate that there is a caring partnership between the rider and his horse. All too often we focus on the action.
The next few shots are of the birds at a raptor demonstration. The Faire grounds hosts a wildlife rehab center. Falconry has a rich tradition in many parts of the world. So it fits in. This lad was assisting the presentation.
A closer view.
A Harris Hawk. This is a Southern Hemisphere bird that we are told is one of the few raptors that lives in colonies where they mutually raise young and engage in cooperative hunting.
A Great Horned Owl. These are a resident species. This fellow is not judged releasable back to the wild because in his early life he was imprinted on people and doesn't know that he's an owl. This usually occurs on the occasion of some misinformed behavior by the people part of the equation.
The Peregrine Falcon. Once near extinction until the banning of the DDT pesticide, this, the fastest of living creatures (capable of speeds around 260 mph) has found a welcome in cities like New York where they feast on everybody's favorite, pigeons.
Back to the Faire. Singers of period songs near Robin Hood's Bridge. Look closely and you will see performers who acted out other roles in the day's drama, including the Queen.
Okay, I admit it, I'm in love [sigh]. These ladies were visitors, not performers. Due to a well-planned strategy on my part, I managed to forget to bring my business cards and had no pen or paper on which I could write the web address for them to view their shot. Consistent with this streak of luck, as with many shots with two subjects, one looks good in this one and the other doesn't. Oh well.

And here's the shot where the looking good part is reversed.

Please note: these ladies were not performers, they did not sign a model release, and as of this writing I do not know how to contact them. So these images may not be used for any commercial purpose. Please be good.

One of the performers addressing the rabble – uh, I mean us – prior to the final joust. Recognize the face? She's in at least one of the other images.
Knights entering the arena at the beginning of the final joust.
Background not too good on this shot. The brown horse looks like it's daydreaming. I swear, it was in full gallop. However, when the camera caught it, the legs were not in a position to convey this.
The background still detracts from the shot. The white horse looks like it's having an easy saunter in the meadow. No shattered lances.
Isn't this the same shot? Both horses' heads are visible, which is good. The focus on the red knight is pretty good. They're still sort of lost in the background. Perhaps some Photoshop techniques could improve this one.

Ah, the splintered shards. Not exactly traversing a graceful arc, but there they are. The horses finally look like they're racing. Focus is good on the red knight. Lastly, nobody in the background is sitting spread-eagled in burmuda shorts. Still, I'm not exhilarated by this shot. Well, there's always next year.

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