Linda Grashoff's Photography Adventures

Fish Bins 45 through 57, and a Story, Part 1

February 11, 2019

I was in Cortez on a Monday, photographing fish bins. Suddenly an authoritative voice in back of me said, “What are you doing?” Uh-oh. I’d never been challenged while walking the fish-house property, but I almost always was there on a Sunday, when workers were not. I turned around to see a woman flanked by two men. I said (cheerily, I hoped), “I’m photographing these fish bins. I don’t know the real name for them, but I—” “We call them vats,” said the woman. “Oh,” I said; “Do you work here?” “Yes, I’m the owner.” Gulp. “Well,” I said, trying to stay cheerful, “I have a photograph of one of these vats at a show in Boston right now. I just love these things.” The woman broke into a grin. “Really? I’m going to Boston in March. Will the show still be up then?” Yes, it would, I assured her. Relief all around. She and her men had wondered if I was documenting something to make trouble, and I had wondered if I would be charged with trespassing.

Now that we were on friendly terms, the woman introduced herself as Karen Bell, the granddaughter of A.P. Bell, who founded the company in the 1920s. Many of the vats have “A. P. Bell” written on them in welding steel, she pointed out (and I have photographed). Karen asked if I knew what the numbers on the sides of the vats mean. (No.) “It’s the weight of the vat. After the fish are offloaded into them, the vats are weighed and the vat weight subtracted to give the weight of the fish.” The fishermen are then paid by the weight of the fish. Later in her office I got Karen’s e-mail address to send her information about the Boston show. She told me she was giving a tour of the fish house in three days to benefit the local museum, and I was welcome to sign up. I did! This story will continue in the next blog post. Here are photos I took that day.













16 responses

  1. Great story, Linda. Glad that it turned out so well! 🙂


    February 11, 2019 at 3:45 AM

    • Me, too, Peter. I was worried for a while. Glad you like the story.


      February 11, 2019 at 11:06 AM

  2. A nice meeting and a fine series! 🙂


    February 11, 2019 at 5:01 AM

    • Thanks, Harrie. Yes, it was a nice meeting. I’m glad I had the Boston show to indicate my seriousness of purpose.


      February 11, 2019 at 11:08 AM

  3. These are fabulous and with a wonderful story as well.
    You have such an eye for composition and texture!
    This post made my day!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 11, 2019 at 8:18 AM

    • Clare, I’m honored to have made your day. Thanks for your generous words.


      February 11, 2019 at 11:13 AM

  4. This has been one of my most favorite series, Linda. I’m glad you got a little history on them. Your new friend, Karen, sounds like a nice person and I’m sure she is proud that someone has appreciated the bins (vats). I hope you mentioned to her that this series has its own fan club, too. These shots are exceptional.


    February 11, 2019 at 4:37 PM

    • Thank you, Ken. I was thrilled to learn more about the bins and the company. I hope Karen sees the bins in a new way now. (I sent her a bunch of links.) I have not told her about the bins’ fans; maybe I should do that. 😉


      February 11, 2019 at 5:21 PM

  5. A thoroughly interesting post, and I can’t wait to see more. The first photo following the story is funny because I immediately felt like the “splat” on that bin was like the way you must have felt when you were discovered. Blindsided! But then what an unexpectedly positive ending, and to think this place has been in the same family all that time, and the current owner still takes pride in it, I love that. #4 seems to be a departure, but it’s perfect, coming where it does in the flow of images. I like all the scribbles on #5. #7 feels transcendent – I like the contrast between that one and the others. The colors on #11 are beautiful, and in that photo the traces of years of use are showing – so many scratches in the same places, over and over, because of some task being done over and over. Can I go so far as to say the nobility of work? It still amazes me that you get the exposure so right on these reflective surfaces. Thank you for this very satisfying post, Linda! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    February 11, 2019 at 9:14 PM

    • Oh, yes, please go so far as to say the nobility of work. And thanks for sharing all your observations. About the exposures: I have been shooting in manual mode (with auto focus, though) and exposing so that the histogram goes all the way to the right and checking to be sure that my highlights aren’t blown out. Some of these look awful at download to Lightroom—way way overexposed—but fussing around with the sliders does the trick.


      February 13, 2019 at 8:40 AM

      • That’s interesting about the exposure! Thank you Linda!


        February 18, 2019 at 9:05 PM

        • Let me know if that works for you, OK? I know you are Canon while I am Nikon . . .


          February 18, 2019 at 9:42 PM

  6. Good images, especially the third down and “152”. A 🙂


    February 12, 2019 at 1:49 AM

    • I’m especially happy that you like 152. I wasn’t sure it belonged with the others, Adrian. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 12, 2019 at 7:52 PM

  7. The wear and tear of the world. All in these scratches and dings. Marvelous!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 13, 2019 at 3:42 AM

    • Thank you, Gunta. I wonder how old these bins are and what they went through to earn their marks.

      Liked by 1 person

      February 13, 2019 at 8:50 AM

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