Seattle – Part 1: Pike’s Place Market

After over a month long hiatus on scanning, I decided it was time that I got down to business. I scanned in most of the images that I liked from my Seattle trip, but i’ve got more on the way, which will be in another posting here when I get around to doing that.

Seattle was an excellent week long adventure full of shooting, and with my then new voigtlander bessa r3a and nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC, no less. I shot with mostly Neopan 400, Tri-X and Fujicolor Pro 400H (NPH 400 for those of you who remember that). The 400H performed nicely, it’s an excellent substitute to Kodak’s PortraVC, which is only sold in packs of 5 now if you don’t order online, which was why I went with the fuji. I only wanted a few color rolls, not an entire box. I had concerns about this film simply because I didn’t know it’s capabilities, but it performed like a champ. Neopan 400 was also relatively new for me at the time, I’d only been shooting it for a few weeks beforehand, but I was pleased with the initial results. the SC lens combined with a film that’s already claimed to scan nicely definitely didn’t dissappoint in that area.

On to the actual visit. I spent a lot of my rolls on Pike’s Place Market alone, it’s hard not to over there. The market itself takes up a vast space and sells a huge variety of things from food to handmade leather goods, to magician’s supplies. Figuring out how to capture the spirit of this place when walking around takes some work, despite the endless photo opportunities.

One particularly popular area of the market was a certain booth that sold a variety of seafood. These guys loved to entertain, they would toss fish around from place to place, and were just very energetic people in general.

EDIT: A reader kindly reminded me about this fact, none of the people working in the booths are the actual farmers of the food, but simply resellers. It’s a sad fact that it’s rare to catch a glimpse of the actual makers of the products, but the place is still very photogenic.

Fish Tossing Booth, while on duy. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Fish Tossing Booth, while on duty. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

I managed to catch them during some downtime, which seemed like their relaxation period. No presentations going on, no tossing of fish, no nothing. Just a moment of silence for the booth that seemed to show a side of the workers that one normally wouldn’t see. Don’t let the quiet side fool you, however. These guys are just as energetic off duty as they are on duty.

Fish tossers while off duty. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Fish tossers while off duty. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

While the booth was at full capacity again, I walked around back to avoid the crowds, and saw a few of them who were off duty, they were just as vibrant and charismatic in the back as they would’ve been up front. Talk about seeing immediate duality in the same place from one image to another.

There are a lot of people with cameras at Pike’s Place, and I mean a lot. It seemed like one in three people was armed with a DSLR and a huge lens, being out there with my Bessa made me feel different from the pack. In fact, only one person even recognized my camera as a rangefinder, and could even name what kind it was. She works in one of the fruits and veggies booths, and knows her stuff on film cameras.

Camera Girl. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Camera Girl. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

She’s the one on the left in the above image, and saw me moments after I took this photo of her and her coworker. She asked me how I liked the Bessa and the lens I was using. From there we started talking rangefinders a bit, she told me about how her boyfriend is a Leica fiend, hunts for all the best deals on Leica gear. Another woman then joined in on our conversation.

Camera Talk. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Camera Talk. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

She had a light leak problem and wanted to know what she could do about it. The woman at the booth suggested that she bring it in and she could have a look at it and fix it for her, I thought that was nice of her to do. Two complete strangers, and they’re completely trustworthy of each other. Forget Minnesota Nice, Seattle Nice dominates over that here, no doubt about it.

The other goods that the market sells are equally interesting to visit, the handmade leather booth especially. I spent some time looking at belts and whatnot, and just doing the usual looking around.

Between the Bags. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Between the Bags. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

The bags were a nice touch, asking to be used in a photo. I didn’t hear what these two were talking about, though. Mystery conversation, mystery people. I went back to looking around at the goods at the booth. Several days later I came back with my color film and reshot the person at the booth actually working on a belt.

Belt Maker. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Belt Maker. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

Other non-food booths also offered some interesting moments, just watching people picking out stuff, trying things on, etc is an interesting process. You kind of see yourself doing the same thing, so they’re like a mirror image of you.

Look at Me. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Look at Me. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

This woman as looking at some jewelry, and my actual intent wasn’t to take a photo of her. I was framing the overall scene, but then she turned in my direction and I decided that was a better shot. I love street photography for that reason, you never know what’s gonna happen. Also, being able to see it constantly thanks to lack of finder blackout while shooting is even nicer.

Kids were present in the booths also, just doing their own thing. A lot of them were playing with the actual merchandise or just making funny faces at passersby.

Child at the market. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Child at the market. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

This one was tearing up some paper, and enjoying it. He took to that paper with a vengeance, I guess he must have gotten a cut from it. This was near the same booth as the woman above, I think just one booth down, actually.

All of the non-food items being sold are fun to see, some of those things you can’t buy in the usual places. Antique shops, maybe, but not anywhere else. There were some Asian style clothing areas to buy things like kimonos and other types of clothes as well as shoes. Antique stores dominated the lower level of the place, especially the memorabilia stores. Those are always a big hit, people like collecting old things. Says the guy with the film camera and record player.

Checking the Signs. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Checking the Signs. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

Just outside one of the memorabilia shops, this one happened to be selling old signs. Signs with things like old advertisements on them, signs from old boxes that had fruit in them that had the logo of the fruit company, road signs, etc. Something somebody might put up on their wall or add to their old stuff collection. I don’t know. I can’t spend more than 20 minutes in those places before I feel like I’m looking at the same thing over and over again. Some people though, they can spend forever in those places. I just move on, like I said I can’t stay in those places for a long time.

What’s a trip to Pike’s Place without visiting the very original Starbucks? Not much lost, actually, at least in my opinion. Sure, the place looks nice but the building is ridiculously crowded, maybe I should’ve visited when people weren’t as present to appreciate it more, but in the middle of the day, man it’s not worth waiting around that place for coffee.

Deep Purple. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Deep Purple. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

The entrance looked like this almost the entire time, I wish I could says sans photographer in the way but there was always someone there, right in the doorway, with a camera. I decided to keep my distance, mostly to avoid being trampled though. This woman’s purple shirt (or whatever you would call it) stood out. A lot. In a sea of greens purple tends to do that, especially when it’s right in front of you.

The Starbucks had some musicians playing nearby, pretty common sight around Pike’s Place, they’re everywhere. They’re playing all kinds of music, from traditional to jazz, there was plenty to be heard as well as seen.

Musician. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Musician. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

This one was sitting right by the popular fish tossing booth, doing his thing. The woman in the background is completely unnecessary, I wish I would’ve known she was coming, I guess I should work on my seeing-through-pillar abilities.

Back to foodstuffs, the fruits and veggies booth looked amazing, I had to go back and reshoot them in color. It didn’t seem right to leave it at black and white, which was my reasoning for using color film in the first place for Pike’s Place.

Local Color. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H
Local Color. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Fujicolor Pro 400H

Immediately outside of the market there are some noteworthy places I found as well. There was a tea shop in which you could taste as many different varieties and blends as you wanted. The woman there just kept serving until you said you had enough. It’s a nice little shop, a great break from the hustle and bustle of the market.

Tea Sampling. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Tea Sampling. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

She was in the middle of getting a blueberry and herb mix together, while telling me something about it’s subtle qualities. She really knows her tea, and knows how to sell it. I almost ended up buying a bag of leaves for myself but decided not to, I had a lot to do that day.

I found a few more places near the market where I visited, one of them even had a tiny arcade/entertainment area complete with a merry-go-round. I stood in there for a while, got bored and took this:

Self-Portrait. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine
Self-Portrait. Voigtlander Bessa R3A + Nokton 40mm f/1.4 SC + Neopan 400 EI 640 + Diafine

I’m in there somewhere.

12 thoughts on “Seattle – Part 1: Pike’s Place Market

  1. Did you get any photos of any actual farmers?

    One of my pet peeves is that all those thousands of cameras in Pike Place always seem to capture the resellers of produce, but not so much the farmers, and often photographers mislabel those resellers (people who buy produce from a wholesaler for resale) as farmers (people who get dirt under their fingernails actually cultivating the food they are selling). For the untrained eye, the photos of produce sellers here are of resellers.

    Pike Place has strayed significantly from its “Meet The Producer” and “Farmers Market” roots, but it is still plenty photogenic.

    1. No, unfortunately I didn’t. I am aware that none of these people are the actual farmers of all of the produce, fish, etc. I did some reading up on the place before I left for it and read about how it’s changed, it’s a shame that farmers aren’t a part of the selling process anymore, I agree, especially since the market I’m used to here in Minneapolis does have farmers selling their own food. Granted, the market here is much, much smaller compared to Pike’s Place, but it’s still a plus.

      Regardless of the lack of farmers there are still, as you have pointed out, plenty of photo opportunities in the area.

  2. Wow! Somebody’s still working in black&white!
    Great shots. How do the screen images compare with what you print?

    1. The screen images are almost identical, actually. I use a Nikon super coolscan 4000 ED to scan in all of my negatives, black and white, and color. The prints I have of photos i’ve scanned look fantastic, I try to make sure the ones on the web are as close to that as possible.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Man – I grew up in Seattle but haven’t lived there for more than 25 years. Your photographs really make me homesick. I keep up with what is going on there – but your photos really capture what the city is really like. I could literally smelly the market as I looked at your photos…..

    I can hardly wait to see the next set.

    — hippieprof

    1. Wow, thanks so much! I’m glad you felt the pulse of the market from my photos, it’s always my intent to reproduce what a place feels like to me and others who are there.

      I hope to have the blog updated with more Seattle photos in the next week or so, but i’ve been known to slack off so all I can say is stay tuned ;)

  4. actually, i work in the Market, and a couple days a week, the farmers are out at their stands. You can also meet them early in the morning when they drive out with their deliveries.
    the Market is actually a good mix of wholesalers and actual farmer stands.

    1. Hmm, yeah, I figured they would be out there early in the mornings, but I wouldn’t think they would be there a whole lot during the market’s peak hours. However, you would know better than I would, being a local, as well as a person that works there. I was only there for a week, and I’m going off of what i’ve heard and read.

      Thanks for the info though, if I ever go back, and I hope I do, I’ll know a whole lot more.

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