Results from the 2015 New York State Fair

Saturday morning.  Road trip.  Syracuse.  Two and a half hour drive to the Salt City.  And the goal – to find out how my three artworks – Lane 2, Vivaldi’s Pond and The Walkway – did at the 2015 New York State Fair Photography Competition.

After last year’s complete goose-egg (no pictures accepted), I now know that two (check that, three) of my artworks made it to the gallery walls of the Harriet May Mills Art Center.  Now comes the fun part.  Finding out if any of those photos received ribbons.

First rule of thumb.  Once I arrive at the Fairgrounds, I must not enter the Art Center until 1:00 p.m.  So I do some walking around the Fairgrounds, and I actually check out some vintage restored rail cars that are near the old Fairgrounds speedway.  Somewhere in my life, I know that there is railroad blood in me – and I’m okay with that.  It was nice to see the restored passenger cars and dining cars and sleepers…

And then I looked out the window and noticed a nearby petting zoo and animal ride.  Oh look, there’s a camel with a riding harness on his back.  And he looks like he’d rather be anywhere else but in Syracuse.

Camel with spike.  BlackBerry Q10 camera.  Photo by Chuck Miller.
Camel with spike. BlackBerry Q10 camera. Photo by Chuck Miller.

That just looks rough.  Urgh.  Yeah, tell me that this animal enjoys being tethered to a spike, with only a concrete surface to rest upon.

I kept wandering around the Fairgrounds – I rode a couple of rides, I watched a couple of exhibitions, and eventually I found the butter exhibit.  Yes, every year the Fair carves a sculpture from a ginormous log of butter.


Now if you look at the back of this butter sculpture – yes, it rotates on a turntable – you can see some icons of New York State.


Yep, it’s the New York State Capitol, Niagara Falls, and the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University.  Or … if you’re looking to do some interpretation, it’s Governor Cuomo  (the Capitol) taking a big flush (Niagara Falls) at education (Syracuse).

It’s all in the interpretation, people.. oh look at the time, it’s 1:00 p.m.  Scuse me, gotta make my way to the Harriet May Mills Art Center.

Okay, Miller.  Deep breath.  Go inside.

The three pictures that were accepted this year came from three different disciplines.  Vivaldi’s Pond was my first accepted lenticular “magic motion” print.  Lane 2 showed my skills with my Nikon Df and a little “HDR” magic.  And The Walkway was completely old school, employing a Rolleiflex Automat MX, efke film and a lot of patience.

Second floor.  That’s where the fine arts are displayed.

Oh look… there’s Lane 2 over by a windowsill.

Lane 2 with a yellow "Honorable Mention" ribbon!
Lane 2 with a yellow “Honorable Mention” ribbon!

Strike!  Lane 2 picks up an Honorable Mention ribbon, it’s now my second HDR shot to receive an Honorable Mention award (Low Tide at Sunrise, 2013).  It’s my first ribbon-winner that was shot with the Nikon Df, and much thanks to the people at Takk House in Troy for letting me take this picture.  And this was the picture that almost went home with me a couple of weeks ago… until the superintendent made an executive decision and saved it for the show!  This is better than picking up a 4-6-7-10 split!

Okay.  Good spirits.  Ribbon for the collection.  And right next to Lane 2, on display on a small table, is Vivaldi’s Pond

An honorable mention rosette for Vivaldi's Pond!
An honorable mention rosette for Vivaldi’s Pond!

Holy lenticular time-lapse, Batman – Vivaldi’s Pond received an honorable mention as well!  Awesomesauce and amazeballs!  Vivaldi’s Pond now becomes my first-ever lenticular print to take a ribbon at the New York State Fair; it also earns a ribbon for the Kodak Medalist, which was used to capture these shots; it also picks up a ribbon for my first-ever Adirondacks capture!

Okay, two for two.  Now I have to find The Walkway, and it’s not near the other two photos.  Not in this room, not in that room.  Dang it, where in the name of the Root Glen is that picture…

Well, I found The Walkway.  But it did NOT earn an honorable mention ribbon.

That's a second place ribbon in the black-and-white category!
That’s a second place ribbon in the black-and-white category!

Second place!! That’s my highest-scoring black-and-white picture ever!  That’s my third red ribbon in NYS Fair competition, joining Nipper’s Polar Panorama (2010) and The AGFA Bridge Over Ansco Lake (2011)! First ever New York State silk for the Rolleiflex Automat MX camera (thanks Teri Conroy for “gifting” me this treasure), first ribbon with B&W efke film since Pies on the Windowsill (Honorable Mention 2011), and only the second picture with a flowing stream of water in the frame (Poestenkill Cascade, 2012).

I wanted to share some other photos from the event – some of my friends at the Auburn Photography Club snagged some ribbons, including one that Don Miller took of some birds that landed on an upright ornithology book, and a couple from Dean Aversa that just completely blew me away.  But unfortunately, there’s a new sign in the art center that requests that people not take photos of the photos without the artists’ permission.  And since I didn’t see any of the APC members in the building, I couldn’t ask them for their permission, and I didn’t want to err on the side of presumption.  Again, though, you need to go to the Fair and see their work.  Every year the APC is well-represented on the art center walls, and deservedly so.

Sorry, I’m still gushing… Three photos, three ribbons!  This is absolutely amazing!

I have to celebrate!

And what’s the one thing a person does at a state fair after earning these accolades?

You got it.  I searched for a defibrillator.

No, I didn’t have a heart attack, unless I’m writing this blog post with the use of an Ouija board…

I promised some friends that if I did earn some accolades for my photos, I would consume a “Defibrillator” sandwich.

And after walking around the fairgrounds for about 90 minutes, I found the one place along the restaurant midway that offered this “Defibrillator” sandwich.

Warning.  This food is not for those with weak dispositions.
Warning. This food is not for those with weak dispositions.

Your eyes do not deceive you.  The Defibrillator sandwich is, as the sign says, a half-pound deep-fried burger, topped with deep fried bacon, deep fried pickles and cheddar cheese – which, in turn, is served between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

And it looks a little something like this.

I shoulda brought one of these back for Steve Barnes.
I shoulda brought one of these back for Steve Barnes.  Yeah, he’d probably go, “Who is this Chuck Miller person and why is he bringing me this food?”

Ten dollars and 20 minutes later, I cleaned my plate.  Yep.  Ate the whole thing.  Now I need to find some deep-fried Alka-Seltzer.

After a few more trips around the Fairgrounds, it was time to head home.  But yeah, I was heading home with a big fat goofy smile on my face.

And a bunch of ideas for next year.

I’ve always got ideas for next year.

I just have to make them work for this year.  Right? 😀