PUSHED

At Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the flower sellers are a major attraction. Photographing the seasonal bouquets is almost as popular as buying them – maybe more so. The colors are delicious, but what interests me even more than the displays is what’s behind the scenes. The long row of market stalls backs up onto Pike Place, where they are open to the street. Workers often pull heavy plastic tarps down between the flower-crammed work tables and the old brick street. Buckets of flowers get pushed up against the tarp, flattening some of the blooms into two dimensional compositions. Seen from the street, through the scratched scrim of worn plastic tarps, the bouquets take on a whole different look.

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There I am on the brick street outside the market, wading through the debris from the flower stalls. In heaven.

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Behind the scenes – market interior on the right, street to the left.

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Inside the market, long rows of gorgeous locally grown flowers, and happy customers.

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Parting shot

The photos were taken with my older model Samsung phone and processed in Lightroom. I was near Pike Place for a conference that day and I didn’t have my camera, but the phone did the trick.

Companions – Boon and Otherwise

A “boon companion” is usually one with whom you have good times. There are many boon companions to be seen in readers’ contributions to the current Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, whose theme is “Companionable.”

My boon companion and I snapped a photo of our shadows one cold day in Manhattan:

These guys may not be boon companions, but they sure make an interesting pair:

I imagine these men that I noticed in a back alley in Seattle spend companionable time together every day – maybe not such productive time according to some people’s standards, but companionable nonetheless:

I’m not sure how much of a companion – boon or otherwise – this man thinks the Great Blue Heron that waits patiently beside him, hour after hour, really is:

On Captiva

These are most certainly boon companions – what trust – a calm face as the toenails are clipped:

Now, to throw a wrench into the flow of this post, did you know that gardeners talk about companion plants? Here’s a perfect example – only foliage, and what harmonious companionship they exhibit:

Back to a more typical view of companionship – this man can often be found playing his portable piano on the sidewalk outside Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  He plays as though there’s no better companion than his piano, and his music draws people whose companionship seems to grow deeper as they listen:

On a lighter note, these guys appear to be great companions too, don’t they?

Tomorrow another Weekly Photo Challenge will be posted. But meanwhile, there are a multitude of photos from last weeks challenge of companions to be found here.

A PARTICULAR POINT OF VIEW

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photography Challenge is to present photographs that show the world through your eyes, thinking carefully about the subject of your image in order to convey just what you saw/thought/felt at the moment you pushed that shutter.

I love to photograph flowers, and I’m most happy with them when they express a particular point of view – the way I see the world –  instead of being  just another pretty flower picture.

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These studies were done at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, where food and flowers overflow and tourists contentedly wander the ramshackle wooden buildings and stroll along the old brick street. From inside the market flower stalls present a stunning array of color and form that changes with the seasons, as local farmers bring in new varieties. It’s an irresistible scene to photograph and I’m sure it’s been done thousands of times.

Out on the street, the long row of flower stalls is open to the air. Most people don’t pay attention to that view because cars crowd the curb, and it’s the working end of the business: the buckets, scissors and florist paper, the workers assembling bouquets.  In chilly weather the vendors hang clear plastic tarps at the back of their stalls to keep out the cold.

One early spring afternoon I noticed that buckets of flowers were pushed back hard against the tarps, making interesting flattened images; it was a whole different view of the flowers. Pressed against the dirty translucent plastic, they took on new, compressed shapes and softer colors. Flecks of dirt and scratches in the tarps conveyed the feeling of Old European still life paintings.

I squeezed between the cars, nodded to a shabbily dressed man having a cigarette, and photographed the small masterpieces head on. Bright lights shining through the tarps and the ambient light reflecting off the plastic made it challenging. But it was worth the effort. It was the world through my eyes. It was right there for all to see, and it could have gone unnoticed but it caught my eye. Now, with a few clicks, I send it along to you.

More Weekly Photo Challenge entries can be seen here.

Seattle’s Pike Place Flower Market

Since 1907, growers have been bringing produce to Pike Place Market to sell.  76 stalls were built that first year, and now hundreds of farmers, businesses and craftspeople sell goods at Pike Place Market to millions of people every year.   Residents and tourists wander the market for fresh food, fresh flowers, interesting crafts, books, foreign newspapers…it’s a concentrated mix of ingredients.  Perched along a steep hill overlooking the water and loaded with specialty food stores, musicians, fishmongers, and crowds snacking on anything from felafel to freshly made cheese, it’s a great place to spend the afternoon in early spring, when rows of flower stalls packed with a brilliant riot of tulips and daffodils are adding their bright colors to the scene.

Many of the flowers you see at Pike Place are grown and sold by Hmong immigrants, some of whom have been here since the early 80’s.

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Outside the market, a flower cart loaded with buckets of tulips rests on the brick street. If it weren’t for the plastic buckets this could almost be a scene from a hundred years ago, but surprisingly, the brick roadbed was installed in the 1970’s to slow down car traffic.

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Plastic tarps create a wall between the market stalls and the street in warmer weather. When workers slide buckets of flowers back on the work tables, the flowers are pressed against the tarp. From the outside, the effect makes me think of an Old Master still life, its colors slightly obscured by centuries of dust and grime.

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The variety of tulips and daffodils is amazing. They’re beautiful from any angle.

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Yes, only $10.00 for these big, fresh bouquets! And you can ask the workers to add a little more of your favorite color, if you like.

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Here’s a link for the market.

Love That Weekly Photo Challenge

This weeks’ Daily Post Photography Challenge is “Love”.

At Pike Place Market in Seattle, a smile speaks volumes of love for a bundled up pet.

Flower market workers appear lost in the love of beautiful spring bouquets. I know I may be romanticizing – they’re probably underpaid – but I suspect they do love those bright flowers.

Caught behind a protective plastic tarp, these flowers express love more lyrically, to me anyway, than all the pretty bouquets displayed in the aisles.

A pianist’s fingers may be bandaged, but he plays long and hard. For money, yes, but if you could hear him you would know it’s also for love.

And I see love here, even without color.

All photographs taken at Pike Place Market, Seattle, in 2012.

Many more renditions of Love, from all over the world, can be found here:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/weekly-photo-challenge-love/

INSPIRED BY GRASSES

Yes, absolutely. I love grasses – something about their linearity, and the swoop and curve of a blade’s path through the air…

In a mass, all of the fine cross-hatching’s are as delicious to my eye as print on a page.

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Enchantment

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A grass can embody the prettiest, frilliest, curvaceous dance…and other times it can be a spear, crisply delineating space.

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Absorbing light as easily as it accommodates a breeze, or reflecting light every which way, like water sparkling on a lake –

…blades catch sun and fling it back into space.

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Heavily textured, stiff and dry,

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or soft and feathery,

a field of grass can shimmer in summer heat like an ocean of sunlight.

Coated with frost, every stalk stands apart, each fuzzy outline adding crunch and texture.

Bamboo, prince of the grasses and always elegant, is dignified and somber at dusk.

And in the dead of winter, a common marsh grass seems to grasp its neighbor to forestall the inevitable.

Photos taken at Bellevue Botanical Garden in Bellevue, Washington; at Snug Harbor, Staten Island (NYC); at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, Washington; in a Duvall, Washington field; at Snug Harbor, Staten Island (NYC); on Mount Magazine, Arkansas; at Mount Loretto in Staten Island (NYC); on The High Line in NYC; at Pike Place Market in Seattle, Washington; on Topsail Island, North Carolina; in an upstate New York field; and at Ancient Lakes in Quincy, Washington.