La Festa Italiana 2014

*The Following Story takes place a year ago in August of 2014 a few hours after a previous photography outing*

After a while of resting from my Waldo apartments photography outing, I headed out from my home and left for the Italian festival also known as La Festa Italiana. It was already dark out so it was a great chance to take some night photos. It was also a great way to practice taking photos of people and social interacting at a large gathering.

I’ve had some experience already taking photos at events with my photography job, but more practice wouldn’t hurt. Now, I’m not Italian at all, but I still enjoy going to different cultural festivals and I had been to La Festa Italiana plenty of times when I was growing up in Jersey City.

This festival along with the Puerto Rican Day Parade and Festival are the biggest cultural events in August for Jersey City. I was excited to go to this festival since I hadn’t gone to it for quite some time. I had plan on going two years ago to La Festa Italiana to take photos, but I never had the time to get around to it. It was not the case this time especially now that I had my DSLR camera. Plus, I was in a mood to get a nice bag of homemade zeppoles!

La Festa Italiana is always held in front of Holy Rosary Church on 6th Street and stretches down a block to Brunswick Street and even parts of Brunswick Streets is closed off for more vendors, inflatable slides and carnival style games. When I arrived at the festival, there were already plenty of people packed and socializing with each other which I expected and wanted.

Thanks to the road being blocked off, I was able to take photos in the middle of the road instead of taking them on a corner of the street. Being new to taking night photos still, for this outing I set my ISO levels to Auto, the white balance set to fluorescent and the exposure composition set to balance.

A lovely evening gathering at La Festa Italiana  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

A lovely evening gathering at La Festa Italiana
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

The first photo I shot for this lovely summer night outing was a middle of the road shot (Photo Above). Once I had room from the moving people on the street, I went for a full wide shot making sure I had all the people socializing and having a good time including the one lady with the glasses in the middle of the shot holding a drink and talking to some guy in a plaid shirt. I also wanted to get the “La Festa Italiana” banner with the nice lights displaying in the background. Shooting in the florescent white balance really helped make everything visible including the street lights.

Musical performance of some classic rock music  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Musical performance of some classic rock music
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Moving along, I made my way to a musical performance of some band playing some classic rock music. It wasn’t exactly Italian music, but it still gave a nice atmosphere for a festival (Photo Above). Prior to this photo, in my photography job I had already taken photos for a weekly music event by the Grove Street PATH station known as Groove on Grove were I had taken numerous photos of musicians and their instrument playing movements.

For this shot, I wanted to get the band performing, but I also wanted to get the audience in the shot as they watched the band play. The woman passing by adds a nice touch as she is moving along while the rest of the crowd is watching a musical performance. It’s something you always see at crowded festivals.

Wide shot of La Festa Italiana from Brunswick Street as the Elderly woman stares me down  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Wide shot of La Festa Italiana from Brunswick Street as the Elderly woman stares me down
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

The smell of the food and beer made me hungry and thirsty as I made my way to Brunswick Street; I turn around to take a wide shot of everyone, zooming in a little (Photo Above). I captured all the vendors I could get in this shot and of course the “La Festa Italiana” banner. What I like most about this photo is the elderly woman in the middle of the frame staring at me. It’s not a concern look; it’s almost as though she wanted to be part of the photo.

My favorite vendor in this photo is the T-Shirt stand right on the right side of the frame. Aside from the Italian theme shirts they also had New Jersey theme shirts, including Jersey City ones. The one shirt that I wanted the most was a “Jersey City Giants” shirt (a former minor league team back in the 40s) with the team logo and the old Roosevelt Stadium on it. I didn’t have cash on me, but thankfully the festival was five days long, so I went back the next day to get it!

Another wide shot from Brunswick Street, having focus on the famous decorative Italian lights   © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Another wide shot from Brunswick Street, having focus on the famous decorative Italian lights
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

This shot here is similar to the last shot I described (Photo Above). The only difference is that I just zoomed out and also there’s no elderly woman this time around. The reason for I shot this version is because I wanted to get the light decoration with the Italian colors in the top middle part of the frame. Every time I see this decoration up I know that La Festa Italiana is coming. Another reason for the zoom out shot of this photo is to of course capture more people at this festival.

You can't go wrong with some homemade zepploes  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

You can’t go wrong with some homemade zepploes
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons I wanted to go to La Festa Italiana was to get a nice bag of zeppoles! It’s one of my favorite things about the festival. While waiting in line for some homemade zeppoles, I decided to take a photo of the zeppole sign (Photo Above). I zoomed in close enough to get the ladies making them in action. Just looking back at this photo brings back the sweet smell of the zepploes, wishing I could purchase another bag of those powdery treats!

During the course of the night, I bumped into my parents as I hung out with them for a bit. We decided to go inside Holy Rosary Church, the same church my parents were married in back in September 23, 2015. I would know since I was part of it and even walked my mother down the aisle. If you’re wondering how I was able to be part of the wedding, my parents had me young as they were both 16-years-old.

My parents as they have their photo taken by the altar they were married on in Holy Rosary Church. My father, Angel Sr. (On the left) with my mother, Leticia (On the Right).  © 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

My parents as they have their photo taken by the altar they were married on in Holy Rosary Church. My father, Angel Ortiz Sr. (On the left) with my mother, Leticia Ortiz (On the Right).
© 2014 Angel Ortiz Jr. Photography

Anyways, after taking a few photos inside the church, my mom wanted a picture with my father in front of the altar where they had exchanged their vows (Photo Above). For this shot, I switched the white balance to auto while keeping all the other features the same. For whatever reason, my lens was giving me a hard time as it wasn’t focusing and every shot came out blurry each time I took a photo.

It came to a point where I wasn’t going to take their photo at all! Eventually, everything worked out as the lens was finally working again. I positioned my parents on the far left of the frame as I wanted the altar on the right side of the frame. The result was outstanding as I was able to take a wonderful photo of my parents and the sight where they became an official married couple.

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