Friday, April 3, 2009

This Market Gains New Heights

Chico's annual tradition is back as the downtown streets were filled with the public for the Thursday Night Market. The Market has always been a highlight to the Chico night scene. This year I wanted to something different in photographing the event. It can become very easy to fall back on the general look that everyone sees. This is not my job. Everyone sees the Thursday Night Market from the same vantage point, six feet up and six feet back. I wanted to tackle the venue with a new height.

Lillian Gray, 21 (left) and Amanda Nimitz, 22 (right) pick out some flowers at the opening day of the Thursday Night Market on Thursday, April 2, 2009 in Chico, CA. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

During Christmas I received a 13' light stand as a gift. The primary purpose was for extending a flash into sky. I came to shortly realize the light stand had the strength to prop a camera 13' in the air too. I decided to take my new toy out on the town. It would give Chico a whole new view of itself. I called my friend Matt who agreed to help me carry the equipment. The stand is pretty light, but carrying two cameras, three lenses, a flash, camera bag, strobe kit bag, and a light stand can really wear a guy down. We carried the equipment down to the market and I began setting up. I placed a remote trigger to the camera so I could fire it from the ground as it hung in the air 13' above me.

People browse through Broadway St. during the opening day of the Thursday Night Market. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

Then I began taking images of the large crowd along Broadway. I would have to raise the camera up, trigger a couple of shots and then lower the camera down so that I could check the angle of view. It worked pretty well, but I had to race against the vanishing sunlight. The best shots of the market are at twilight when the is a rich night sky that illuminates the public in the streets. Once the sun goes down, the streets are black and forget shooting anything faster than 2 seconds. I took a couple of general shots from ground level. I actually wasn't "feeling" the Market like normal. It might have been because I arrived late coming from a volleyball game. There wasn't anything that was catching my eye as special or unique. I decided to keep my focus on my elevated viewpoint.

Seen from 4th St. people browse through vendors at the Thursday Night Markets. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

I choose about nine or ten different locations before it got too dark to continue. It was very interesting to hear the public "ooh and awe" as they passed by. There were some who carried a camera of their own asking what was I doing and who I worked for. There were others who would say,"Oh, that will be a great shot.". It is funny to hear peoples responses when they see a guy who looks like he knows what he is doing. The truth is I really don't know much about what I am doing. But I can never get the shot by just thinking about it.

Hundreds of people line the streets of Downtown Chico Thursday. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

I yield a 10% acceptance of my images. This means that if I want one good shot I have to take at least 10. Is this good? I don't really know. I just know that I have to shoot a lot to get a lot. I have known photographers that can just point and shoot the best in a single frame. I am a constant explorer always getting closer and closer to what I want. Sure I get those "single stunners", but for most occasions I am always searching for a better image. This keeps me from getting stale as I always try to beat my own best.

The Phoenix Building glows in the evening light at the Thursday Night Market. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)

To my dismay, the desk did not know these photos were coming and had no room to use them in the paper. Since I wasn't feeling the images anyway, it gives me a chance to try for a better one. I have an idea in mind to improve the current images. I will give it a try. At least I can always have a next time to get to a new height.

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