Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Open Air Market

Tri-County Produce is a very Santa Barbara market. At the base of Milpas Street, near the ocean, it sits high above the pavement on a thick concrete slab. The most unique feature of Tri-County's, is its one open wall. This allows the ocean breeze to waft past the checkout stands and bares a view of the beach and Cabrillo Boulevard. On cold days, Tri-County's clerks keep warm in heavy jeans and hooded sweatshirts.

The small market--just five aisles wide--consists primarily of fresh produce that arrives daily from local farms. Their slogan is: "If it's any fresher, it's still in the fields." Beyond produce, they have a small and eclectic array of other foods: a full aisle of wine, fresh locally baked bread and steaks and salmon in the cooler. The freezer holds a variety of organic foods and many flavors of ice cream

Recently, on one of my typical quick runs through the market, after snagging a brownie, a turkey sandwich and a bottle of cranberry juice, I noticed a middle-aged couple standing in the center of an aisle looking around perplexed. They seemed misplaced. Dressed impeccably in city clothes--the man wore a tweed jacket and dress shoes that shone bright enough to see your reflection--I immediately pegged them as out-of-towners. When I walked past them, the man looked at me with his face twisted into a question mark, and spouted, "What's the deal with this place?"

I laughed.
When I first started shopping there, I'd asked myself the same question.
He waved his hand toward a shelf and, as if he'd discovered some rare West Coast tribe that survived solely on Hagen Daz ice cream and coleslaw, asked, "Do you do all your shopping here?"

"No," I said, chuckling. "Mostly produce and a few quick fixes."

Yesterday, waiting at Tri-County's checkout stand, I gazed out at the ocean, and within the broad view, I caught sight of a perfect fragment. The Islands were outlined sharp against the sky. Tall palms towered above them, and a tiny boat, almost imperceptible to the eye, graced the frame like a lovely stroke of punctuation.


  1. Jonathan ChesterJune 16, 2011 at 8:11 AM


    That's a nice looking market to shop. Here on Long Island, the closest thing we have to that are open fruit and vegetable stands out east. My place to shop more locally is Trader Joes. Do you have one near you? That picture in the side bar of the papayas hits home with me as that is one of my favorite fruits! Apricots as well.

    Hope that Santa Barbara fog has lifted and you're seeing clear skies!


  2. A question of technique for you, Anitra: did you consider the possibility of slightly over-exposing the background in the last two photos so the foreground would better fit within the latitude of the sensor array? Another (better) alternative might have been a tiny bit of flash but I don't know how much control your camera gives you over that. Given the apparent latitude of your settings, it looks like two or three stops under the background still might have given you the silhouette effect you seem to be looking for whilst permitting a modicum of foreground detail. The next-to-last photo, particularly, would have benefitted from just a bit of muted detail in the shadows. Of course, that's just my opinion. :-)

    I don't know how familiar you might be with the work of Ansel Adams and his zone system of exposure control. He was definitely a master at deciding which parts of an image required the deepest black tones and which could stand some amount of over-exposure. Once that's been decided, it makes the control of detail almost like allowing the image to perform a strip-tease in the light, selectively revealing and hiding the portions that can contribute effectively to the desired compositional imperatives.

    In any case, another group of fine photos. Thanks for sharing them.


    BTW, one of my favourite Ansel Adams photos, ever, is this one, that takes my breath away every time I look at it, Just check out the studied way he uses over- and under-exposure to create the framing and levels of detail. (From the National Archives)

  3. Jonathan,

    Lovely to hear from you. We have a couple of produce stands in SB. They are both located beside farms. We also have a number of farmer's markets. Do you have farmer's markets in Long Island? And then, of course, there's the great Trader Joe's. We have several of them in the area and they're always mobbed. I agree with you, Papayas and apricots are delicious!

    As for the's not giving us a break. I want to wish you sunny skies as well, Jonathan. Sending My Regards, ~ Aneet

  4. Dave,

    So nice to hear from you again! I can see from your comment that you are a knowledgeable and aware technician. I really appreciate your advice. I know that those two photos at the end are lacking. I hoped there would be enough there to convey the quality of the inside/outside effect. I chose to sacrifice the foreground in hopes of getting some detail in the ocean. I hadn't considered using a flash. I so seldom implement it that it doesn't come to mind.

    With your suggestions, I think I might try it again with a flash :)And, yes, I do know of that marvelous Zone System. You have keyed in on an area of my photography that I often try to skirt around. I really appreciate your insights and suggestions.

    I took a look at the Adams photo that you recommended. And yes, it is wonderous. I have seen it before. There are so many of his photos that take my breath away. There is really nothing else quite like them. I have seen some of his original prints at action and the effect is truly extraordinary. Their texture and depth are mesmerizing. Do you have a web-site where you show your photos?

    Again, Dave, thank you so much for your feedback. Sending You My Regards, ~ Anitra

  5. Anitra
    Once again,thank for the great photos.
    I really like them,and it gives me a sense of your life
    I really liked the effect that you used to show the Ocean
    i caught that right away.In Panama we have so many of those
    open markets,yet in Manhattan we have those fruit stands all
    over the city,and of course whole Foods.buts its nice that you live
    in such a Fabulous place take care,and LOL

  6. Hello Roger,

    So glad you got what I was trying to convey, Roger. When I told a friend that I wanted to make a post on Tri-County, he said, "That's going to be a challenge." And he was right. The truth is, I don't think I've really quite accomplished exactly what I wanted to communicate.

    One thing I was going for, was lifestyle -- and you got that :)

    I must say, that Panama sounds like a beautiful place as well. I always enjoy your messages. Keep cool dear Roger, ~ Anitra

  7. Anitra,

    Looks like an awesome market!! So glad you made it out of this one alive!! LOL!!

    Have a great weekend!!

    Mark :-)

  8. Jonathan ChesterJune 17, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Heeey Aneeetra,

    Here on Long Island,I live about 40 min from the city and there is actually one very small farmers market that's not too far from me. They put out a lot of organic produce which is a favorite of mine! Most of the farmers markets are actually located on the eastern part near the Hamptons. There are many wonderful vineyards out that way as well.

    NOW IF I WERE YOU, the next time you visit Tri-County Produce,make sure you stay out of the meat aisle. We wouldn't want Vince Lombardi's twin brother to grab hold of you again! (nyuk nyuk)

    Jonathan :)

  9. The thing to remember about those Ansel Adams photos, though, is that he was working with large format sheets of super-finely grained monochrome film. He had _at_ _least_ 8 stops of latitude, there, and some claim he could get 11 stops! I don't even want to think about 11 stops. Even if we accept 8 stops, that still means that the brightest _detail_ of the image is 256 times brighter than the darkest _detail_. That's incredible. Working with modern digital equipment, in colour, you probably have, what, 5 stops, at best? That means a factor of 32 between the bright and dark detail. Regardless, it comes down to deciding what are the brightest and darkest details I want this image to show. So, the principle is the same.

    I've been retired from photography for some time and, to be honest, I did so much of it that I rarely pick up a camera any longer. I have trouble finding quality filmstocks, now, and the whole digital thing is insufficiently tactile for my taste, though I do know that digital can produce excellent quality images that rival some emulsions in some formats. I still think a lot about it and like to see good photographs, like yours, when they grace the web.

    I truly hope you didn't think I was being critical. I definitely saw what you were hoping to achieve and I do believe you achieved it. I just thought there was maybe a bit too much dark in that penultimate photograph. Of course, another choice might have been to crop it a little tighter in post-processing so it would reduce the preponderance of the dark. But, hey, that's the beauty of photography, isn't it? There's never only one way to achieve the effect you're looking for and there's no end to the number of classless dolts, like me, who will come along later to second-guess the decisions you'd carefully agonised over when you took the image!




    Mark, Good Day!

    You know, the market comparison didn't dawn on me until you mentioned it. I think that's a riot! And here we go again with Photoshop possibilities :)

    Hope the sun is shining on you today, ~ Aneet


    Jonathan, hey, hey!

    Nice to know that you have a farmer's market available. From your description, it sounds like you too live in a a beautiful neck of the woods.

    Your Vince Lombardi's brother comment is really funny. I'll be thinking of that next time I shop at Tri-County :)

    So nice to hear from you Jonathan. Sending wishes for a wonderful weekend, ~ Aneet

  12. Hi Dave!

    You words on photography are inspiring. I could believe that you'd written books on it.

    In this new digital era, I surely understand how you feel about film. It's sad to see it fading away. Though, I'm sure it will always have a place, even if it's rarified.

    You surely loose a lot in switching from film to digital. It's kind of a different animal. It's always improving, of course. And I'm sure with one of those $16,000. lenses, one can begin to entertain memories of Edward Weston and Minor White.

    One thing that's fun about a nice, little digital camera, is the sketchbook effect. I enjoy shooting from the hip. I often sacrifice quality in order to not disturb people or disrupt the scene. The minute people know you're there, everything about them changes.

    I also want to acknowledge your poetic relationship to photography: the reference you made to peeling back the layers and also your 'tactile' understanding is expressed so well.

    I welcome your feedback and will continue to refer to these messages in the future; they are so informative and well written. I really appreciate them. Thank you!!

    What are your favorite things to photograph, Dave?

    Sending My Regards, ~ Anitra