Not much has changed…but the masks?

Jo and I joined our friends Laurie and Habiba at the Richmond Camera Swap meet and Sale this past weekend.

We were excited to finally be able to attend another camera packed event after the exhausting yearlong wait caused by the pandemic. 

As I wrote last week, we overnighted at the coastal village of Steveston. 

I got up early the morning of the camera sale and sat by the open window looking at the ocean, breathed in the cool salt air and listened to the seagulls for quite a while on that clear blue day before packing my car and heading to the camera sale location. 

Gosh, it couldn’t have been a better morning. 

We stopped at a coffee shop for a takeout breakfast and still arrived on time for the camera sale at the South Arm United Church by 8AM to join the gaggle of sellers carrying, pulling and pushing crates filled with photography equipment into the hall.  We were directed to our reserved tables, instructed to wear masks and shown the large bottles of hand sanitizer.

My friend Laurie & his wife were already there. They left their home in Kamloops very early to make the 4 plus hour drive through the mountains that morning.  That meant they were on the road by 4AM.  I remember doing that years ago, but those times are long past – I just don’t have the stamina any more. Besides I like making the camera sales a bit of a holiday. Sure there is the additional cost of renting a hotel room and eating out, but I do enjoy the adventure.

Not much has changed…but the masks? 

The frenzy and excitement of the used camera sale is still the same. There are still lots of like-minded people talking about cameras and photo gear and there are still lots of great money saving deals and, as always, an electricity in the air that is energizing and helps make the event the one of the friendliest places on earth. 

Ahh..But the masks. 

A short time ago if anyone would have told me that I would be walking into a building filled with people wearing masks I would have thought they meant Halloween masks. And although I don’t at all mind doing my civic duty by wearing a mask I always have an uncomfortable feeling when I get out of my car and put on a mask over my mouth and nose. Its as if I was some bank robber from one of those old black and white movies.

So there I was sitting at my table loaded with cameras hoping to sell while wearing an identity-hiding mask – talking with others that were hiding their identity from me. 

I always watch body language and I really watch a perspective buyers face.  How else can I tell if they are actually interested in that lens or just lookie-loos spending the day wandering a noisy camera sale?  Well I sure couldn’t do that, and it made selling harder, but Jo and I laughed a lot behind our masks and had fun with all those masked men and women anyway.  However, I have no doubt that under that face covering there were some 20 something’s grimacing instead of smiling at my dated humour. 

I am sure everyone that attended had a very good time at the Richmond Swap meet and camera sale.  We sold some, bought some and had a great time meeting and talking with other photographers and in my mind (other that pointing our cameras and making pictures) it doesn’t get much better than that.   

Now we will be waiting till the next sale that has been postponed and postponed. It’ll be in October. I’m already excited.

Photography in the coastal village of Steveston. 

Steveston is a historic place on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver that my friend Jo and I stayed at (and spent the evening photographing) on our trip to the August used camera sale in Richmond. 

We were lucky to be able to book lodging at The Steveston Hotel, a landmark for the village built in1895. 

The last time I visited Steveston must have been about 20 years ago. Other than the marina and the fishermen that sold their fresh catch there wasn’t much.  My wife Linda and I had arrived on a cool December day with our big large format 4X5 inch film cameras. However, as we set up it started to snow a very wet windy snow that forced us to wipe off our cameras and leave. 

We had parked in front of the Steveston Hotel and hoped to get a room, but it was as every time I have checked over the years since then, full with no vacancy.  I didn’t think I could get a room this time either. But as I wrote, we were lucky this time.

Steveston is filled with great places to eat. We chose to get delicious Greek seafood take-out so we could sit out on the boardwalk to enjoy the ocean as the sun went down. 

The waterfront walk was perfect for out-of-town photographers like Jo and I for wandering after dark to make long exposures of the night-lights. Long exposure photographs are just plain fun. All one needs is a camera and tripod. Oh, and an off camera release…that I inconveniently forgot. The off camera release allows one to not only reduce camera shake, but makes it possible to use exposures longer than 30 seconds. 

Because we didn’t have the off-camera releases we were forced to use the self timer to stop the shake and struggle to get interesting lighting effects with only 30 seconds. 

So – set the shutter speed at 30 second, then keep changing the aperture depending on how bright one wants the scene. 

Jo was using a 16-35mm and I had, as usual, my 24-70mm lens. With long exposures we could brighten up the boat’s details and soften the moving water. Some times even lighten the dark sky to blue. 

I also set up my tripod in an alley between brightly lit shops with people walking around that would, as soon as they saw the camera say, “Oh, sorry” and quickly dart to the side so as not to ruin my shot. I would laugh and tell them they were just fine. After all a thirty second exposure is to slow to catch most movements and even if someone stops they were little more than a dark blur on the worn, wood surface of the walkway. 

We were out till a bit after 10pm and all though most visitors had gone home there was no shortage of loud revellers. Tonight as I sit beside the window of my room that looks out on the street, boardwalk and ocean I can hear the odd loud voice happily leaving the bar downstairs and making his or her way to their car. (I am sure there is a designated driver) 

Its’ now 11PM and the street is empty except for what looks like a mom and her two children taking their furry white dog for a last walk on this pleasant cool evening. I’m not really tired and am enjoying looking out on the quiet village as I write. I’ll get up in the morning; enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel in the cafe downstairs. Then Jo will join me and we will finish the morning walking with our cameras in the salty, seagull filled air before making the drive over the mountain highway home. 

It is always fun to make some time for another Photographer’s adventure. With all the fires and the middle of the night evacuation we went through I have been a bit on edge and getting away to photograph a different environment is more than any doctor could recommend for a frustrated soul.