January has felt like the longest month in the history of my life thus far. Seems like at least half a year ago I was running out the door to meet Alana and Sarah at the Alameda Antique Faire, coffee and camera in hand and lots of layers for that early morning chill. The fair is the first Sunday of every month, but it’s been ages since I’ve visited it. With over 800 dealers across a gigantic tarmac (part of an old navy base) the scale of this flea market can be overwhelming. I’ve yet to make it up and down every one of the aisles. But I’ve gotten some of my most treasured possessions here — tables, chairs, art, prints, bottles, pottery, and every carpet I own (for a great price too I’ll say — while many of the vender’s know full well the worth of their vintage items you can still find a few deals if you look hard enough). This event is an island paradise for a set designer. Today I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just browsing leisurely and chatting with friends and pausing every time I caught a glint of light reflected off mirrored, metal, crystal or glass surfaces…
One of the best photography tips I’ve ever learned is one I still don’t follow myself — make lists. Whenever I’m shooting I am keep track mentally of what I’ve captured — making sure I got some scene-settings photos of the booths, the people, the docks, and details of the items themselves. But there’s two shots I missed here that I could have snapped had I taken the time to double check everything, and write down a physical list of what I had, what I wanted, and what I needed for this blog post. 1) I have no image of my radiant companions, which really would have rounded out this collection both here and for my future memories. And 2) no shot of the amazing view of the San Francisco skyline across the bay. In the case of the first, I kept thinking the opportunity would present itself without me physically interrupting my friend’s search for the perfect vintage utensils and enamel dishes (to use in their cooking photography of course), and in the second — we never actually made it to the end of the tarmac where one can see this view (see above about over 800 venders). But in retrospect I should have asked Sarah and Alana to pose for me, and sprinted ahead to get that skyline photo. So note to self: keep lists, and remember that there’s no time like the present — always shoot now what you think you’ll shoot later. Because you probably won’t.
On this hazy day the light could not be better for daytime outdoor photography. The thin marine layer from the coast diffused the light just enough for perfect shooting conditions. I wish I could say there was equipment you could use to replicate this light, or that there was some technical camera tuning behind it, but actually most of photography is either controlling your light and environment, or knowing when and when not to take photographs. Rolling out of bed at dawn is not my personal idea of a good time but it can definitely pay off — look at how soft and glowy everything in the photograph above is, versus 4 hours later in the photograph below — where the contrast is high, with darker, deeper shadows. Of course even here the marine layer was helping diffuse from the super stark contrast noon on a clear day would create.
The final tally from the fair? When you don’t really know what you’re looking for, in this instance you end up with two buckets of seashells, several bags of vintage clock pieces, 6 vintage utensils, 5 lace napkins, and a fedora. For those in the bay area this week — here are all the details:
Everything is 20 years old or older.
6-730am is $15; 730-9am is $10; 9 to closing at 3pm is $5 for admittance
The best way to get there is definitely to drive. Check out their direction page for more info.
So how has your January gone? For me it has definitely not come close to resembling the quiet, slow month I anticipated; with lots of time for personal projects and health; preparing my schedule and habits for the year ahead. Instead I’ve clocked twice as many work hours as I normally do in a month — which I can’t complain about after a roller coaster year in 2014, but also couldn’t be further from my personal goals. It’s certainly satisfying to start the year off with an extra month of income already, but it’s been a miserable time of it. Hopefully February will give me another chance to get the year started right. Did you have goals for your January, and were there any big setbacks or successes? Anyone out there going to Alameda this weekend? Drop me a note in the comments, until next time please stay in touch with me over at instagram, pinterest, twitter, or facebook.