Something, there is, about music that encourages me to make photographs.

45th Annual Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest
and Folk Festival


Out Back

Here's something that I've been missing and didn't know it. I've attended jazz festivals, strawberry festivals, art festivals and others in the past but this was my first time at this event. And I'll be back. I enjoyed the music, the people, and the photography. Great fun all around.

The location is comprised of a large grassy area, a small creek, and an assortment of "old-time" buildings used as a western movie set. There are three stages, two of which are covered, providing shade for the audience and musicians. The general atmosphere -- no, make that the total atmosphere -- was relaxed, comfortable and clearly conducive to spontaneous jamming and forming new friendships. It was happening just about everywhere throughout the day. I wandered about listening to the music and looking for photo opportunities and didn't see an unhappy face the entire time. Four-thousand people for eight hours... that works out to 32,000 "people-hours" without a single frown.

As always, photography is often challenging at events like this. Many situations were compromised for photography by harsh light, not enough light, microphones in the foreground and "stuff" or very bright light in the background. My choice of subjects had as much to do with the light and the background and foreground elements as the subjects themselves. I was not always able to find the light or the view that I wanted for the events and musicians, but there were opportunities, and I found some of them.

Later in the day, I encountered another group, Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome Band, rehearsing in the shade. Again, I wanted to photograph each of the band members, but light and background elements constrained my options. I made a few exposures that show the activity and camaraderie, and the one on the right best shows the fun and enthusiasm.

The event was well-organized. The admission fee was reasonable, there was no "hidden ticket price" for parking, and there was no price-gouging by food and beverage vendors. And water! Unlike like county fairs that squeeze drinking fountain water pressure down to a dribble, each venue here had water and cups available. It's a definite thumbs-up event.

I'd like to attend again, but the web site uses javascript for navigation. The down side of that is that I, and about one in ten who visit the site, don't see any navigation to get to information about the 2006 event. We have javascript turned off (for good reasons). With web-standard HTML navigation, everybody sees the links...

Images Copyright © Ed E. Powell
All Rights Reserved