Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, pt. 1

The rate of change has been accelerating in my life. With the encouragement of a good friend in Reno, I made it to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco. The name is confusing for people. The emphasis is thus, NOT BLUEGRASS. I suppose the double adverb (-ly, right?) seems to translate (incorrectly) like double negatives. It is an Americana music festival where bluegrass acts would be welcome. But all bets are off; for example, bluegrass legend Del McCoury played with a dixieland jazz ensemble. I think any music would be welcome here if it is good and doesn’t fit a genre name.

The Bay Area was home for five years and it is a comfortable place for me to travel around. With photographer’s eyes now, I definitely wanted to stop to shoot the Orinda theater off of Highway 24 on my way to three days in San Francisco.
Orinda Theater, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
My friend Jason mentioned to “be sure to bring your longest lens!” In my case, it is the 734mm equivalent, 5mp Sony. I like how small the files are, and I think it takes good pictures. I used to shoot it always on automatic, and now I shoot it mostly manual.
Orinda Theater, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Crossing the Bay Bridge near Treasure Island, after the unnecessarily stressful left-hand merge of two lanes at the Caldecott Tunnel, my observations of the psychology of trafficky-drivers are still intact, and helped me stay cool. The lowest form of human interaction is found in traffic, I swear. Having commuted from Mountain View to Walnut Creek for years, my old trick was to put the seat in a practically reclined position and drive with a lot of mellow confidence. The things we do (and write). . .
New span, Bay Bridge, Oakland CA, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
A woman whom I spotted at the coffee shop in Orinda an hour earlier crossed the street in front of me at the western edge of Golden Gate park in San Francisco. I didn’t see her anymore after that time, but I took it that things were going to be spooky all weekend.

Though I have spent a fair amount of time in the City, I should have spent more time in the amazingly beautiful Golden Gate Park. With my recent adventures in coastal Oregon, I was able to see through the layers of time somewhat. The park is old, but not as old as the dunes and marshes that were once there. I don’ know when the park was set up, but the trees were very old and beautiful. I had no idea of the mass of humanity I was about to be swimming in. At this point I was alone. There were so many of my heroes at the festival, and so many tens of thousands of people.
Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
I didn’t have many expectations as I made the long walk east towards the stages through the park.
Tunnel, Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
The first thing that happened is that a hippie chick named Carter approached me and thanked me for shooting film. I struggled to find a response. We talked a little bit about processing film and she wondered, as do I, where a good lab might be in San Francisco. It was my first 10 minutes through the massive crowd at the Banjo stage. I was shooting with asa200 in my Konica Autoreflex T with a 57mm lens. I have another treasure, too, a late 60’s Nikomat 35mm with a Nikkor 50mm lens, loaded with asa400 for the festival. I have come to grips shooting without metering. The batteries for these old 35mm cameras are a bit tedious to deal with, so I go without. One day I will get a light meter. I was determined to shoot film mostly, but those brick-of-a-camera 35mm, well, what was happening instead was that people always noticed them. The old school appearance and large size made the random subjects camera-aware.

So I am grateful for the digital pictures I took, but it was in the cosmos to shoot film. Things kept happening, like accidentally deleting the Hipstamatic application from my iphone, running out of batteries in my Sony, and running out of space on my memory cards.

It has been a long time since I shot with a long lens!
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Did you see the jet in the photo of trees and sun photograph above? Well, similarly playing I spy, look here, it’s Chris Isaak and on the left, another hero, Rowland Salley playing bass.
Chris Isaak and Rowland Salley @ Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Shifting focus. . .
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
This kind of shot is a little hard for me with film (so far). I find the limited range of shutter speeds to be most problematic when going for experimental depth of field when shooting film. Slower film would help a lot. So here the little Nikon P6000 has a go:
Crowd and eucalyptus at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Tree detail.
Crowd and eucalyptus at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
Peace at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
It was so great to be around people who’s minds were being blown. You could feel the surprise as a few Led Zeppelin classics were performed. Robert Plant is now part of the crew of musicians that I have been into since about 1998. His band features some of my heroes, so here, Robert lurks behind Darrell Scott as he sings Porter Wagoner’s A Satisfied Mind with Patty Griffin. Favorite guitarist Buddy Miller was also in the band.
Robert Plant, Darrell Scott, Patty Griffin at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
I don’t mind crowds, though I prefer more personal space than others. Also the sound was great from far away, but was very loud up close. Maybe I’m too sensitive, but I didn’t get close for any of the super crowded sets that I watched.
Crowd exodus from Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, Golden Gate park, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
At Ocean Beach afterwards, this composition with the moon, shoes, and irony begged for a photograph; I didn’t have to move anything.
Shoes at Ocean Beach, Andrew D. Barron©9/30/11
And now to rendezvous with a young, old Reno friend. Max and I coordinated at Ocean Beach and with his friends trekked down to Redwood City for the night. I got them lost in Daly City, turning left into a wormhole called John Muir boulevard. It came up fast, I read the first name, and turned. What I wanted was John C. Daly street. After a while, we made to Redwood City via Sloat. Besides the frosted corn flakes at Lake Solano, the only food I ate were the five tacos I had at midnight. El Grullense, yum.

Saturday was a big day and time with my nephew and his friends watching some of my favorite songwriters. Stay tuned for my next Hardly Strictly blog!

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