Photography and photojournalism in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest

Posts tagged “portland

Blue Hour on the Willamette

Morrison Bridge-4

I really enjoy shooting cityscape images during the blue hour. Portland is one of the best places around for this, because the fantastic – and numerous – bridges spanning the Willamette River lend themselves to endless compositions. And because of the many old docks, pilings and other remnants of Portland’s past littering the east bank of the river, the place has history to spare. At least by the relatively limited standards of the western United States. But I digress.

In this shot, I found a solitary piling sticking its head above the water in between the concrete chunks that once formed the ferry landing. It made a nice compositional anchor for my foreground, while I used my iPhone to paint the concrete and rocks with light to give it a little extra glow and bring out detail. I’m enjoying this kind of subtle light painting recently, as it gives a nice touch to foreground elements at night that otherwise might be lost or missed.

Thanks for viewing, and please feel free to leave, commentary, critique or suggestions on where to shoot in the future. I love finding new – to me – spots and scenery, so don’t hesitate. Thanks!



Fire up the waterfront

Fire up the waterfront

Steel wool spinning creates some intriguing images, especially when you’re already in an interesting environment. This shot was taken on the east bank of the Willamette River in downtown Portland just north of the Morrison Bridge. With the last remnants of the blue hour in the sky, the flaming wool makes for some really colorful light painting.

Portland’s Favorite Japanese Maple

I took a journey up into Portland’s South Hills last week to photograph the city’s most beloved Japanese Maple, which can be found at the city’s Japanese Garden at Washington Park. It’s an iconic tree and location for Portlanders, and on a typical fall day this time of year it’s easy to find dozens of photographers at a time wandering the grounds. In the week since I shot this photo the tree has since turned more red and I’m finding more and more photos online each day as this week progresses.

I don’t have a lot to say about this photo, other than I shot it with an ultra-wide angle Tokina 11-16mm lens, which really makes the tree appear much larger here than it really is. It’s striking, actually, because from where this is shot I am kneeling next to my tripod looking up into the tree’s canopy at roughly a 45-degree angle. If the only view one has seen previously is the one above, it’s easy to walk right past and miss the tree entirely if you haven’t been to the Garden before. It’s a must-see spot for visitors to Portland, however, and is open year-round. It’s also photogenic year-round, with some of the nicest photos I’ve seen of this spot coming with snow on the ground.

Passing By the Hawthorne Bridge



I waited over an hour for any sort of large-ish boat to cross my path last night. And when it finally did, it was so slow it only left streaks across half the frame over the course of a 30-second exposure. Ah well, that’s why I enjoy Portland so much. The downtown skyline is modest, but attractive, and the array of bridges we have here mostly photograph very well. Throw in the remains of the east side’s old waterfront and I think it adds up to a pretty compelling image. This is the Hawthorne Bridge across the Willamette River facing west. Thanks for viewing!

The Old and the New


This is Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge just after sunset last night. We’ve got a fantastic skyline for photography for a relatively small city here in Portland, and the bridges are a big reason why. Many of them date back a century or more, and the construction of that period always has been a photographer’s delight. More so in Portland, when you add in features like these ancient, rotting pilings. These are a great foreground element and they also highlight the remains of the city when it once contained buildings spilling out into the Willamette River. This is a 30-second exposure at f/11 and 400 ISO with a polarizing filter thrown in for good measure.

Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls 6

Wahclella Falls in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge is located in a natural rock amphitheater carved out of a series of overlapping basaltic lava flows dating back millions of years. For photographers, this forever damp, green landscape now makes an ideal setting for making beautiful images. The closest active volcano is Mt. St. Helens on the other side of the Columbia River, and the biggest geologic hazard is not lava, but landslides.

The shot above was taken from  a rock outcrop well above the water using a Tokina 11-16mm wide angle zoom lens at f/14 with a 1.6 second exposure at ISO 100. That’s about as long of an exposure as I like to make for water unless I’m really going after a smooth, silky look. Here, I’m just trying to give a sense of motion, rather than a new rendering of Fantasia, and I think the water exploding into streaks at the bottom of the falls does just that.

Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls 5


Here’s a photo taken last week of the Triple Falls in the Columbia River Gorge here in Oregon. Each of these three waterfalls feature a drop of over 100 feet, although it’s difficult to gauge the scale from this viewpoint, which is virtually the only place you can get a good look at the falls without rappelling down ridiculously steep cliffs. I definitely did not time this stop properly, as the midday sun and its shadows make difficult the type of long exposures I was looking to create. At other times during the same day, however, the sun remained hidden for the type of diffusion that makes for lovely water photographs. That’s Oregon, though. Unpredictable.