Portland Was A Blast!

Reflections on Sauvie Island

Reflections on Sauvie Island

I had an incredible time in the Portland area for the last several days. There are so many options for landscape shooting I barely scratched the surface. I've barely begun to cull through the hundreds of photos I took all around northwest Oregon and a tad in Washington, too. The shot of the river houses above is a iPhone snap.

Last week I shared my basic itinerary. It held up pretty well – planning paid off for sure. The weather and timing didn't always fall in my favor. I took a lot of "I was here" shots. And those are fine. Those are my memories. Not every photo is destined for a portfolio or gallery.

Here's what actually happened:

  • Day 1 / Concrete & Coastlines
    This day essentially went as planned with respect to location visits. Svenson Island was short and sweet... there were a couple of abandoned structures I wanted to shoot. I took those in and continued to Astoria for lunch and a meander along the waterfront. The river tide was high, covering most of the pilings. And the time of day was wrong – clear blue skies with very harsh light. 

    The afternoon at Fort Stevens was much more fruitful in terms of photographs. I can think of three scenes I'm eager to process. Also, the concrete buildings and bunkers are texture heaven! I shot a lot of the walls and roofs in their varying state of decay. At the coastline of the fort is the Peter Iredale shipwreck. I'd describe it as deflating. I thought it would be larger. I was also there at low tide and mid-afternoon. Bad light, no water interest around the wreck, and lots of people. At another time, I see how this place can produce a moodier, more interesting photo.

    On my way to Oceanside to shoot the rocks and sunset, I stopped at Short Sand Beach (aka Smuggler's Cove). The trail to the cove was awesome! My first taste of walking through the thicker evergreen trees, with the late afternoon sun trickling through the foliage, mixing with an light fog. Unfortunately, that light fog turned very heavy by sunset, cloaking the rocks and arches in Oceanside. I'm hopeful to extract a good memory shot or two from that event.
  • Day 2 / Waterfalls and a Cityscape
    The first stop on this day was Panther Creek Falls in Washington – to the tune of a 4am start time to arrive before sunrise. It was worth it. I spent about 3 hours on location shooting all sorts of compositions and angles of the upper portion of creek and the falls themselves. You have to put in an effort to make a bad photo here. Point your camera in any direction, click, and you're almost guaranteed to get a good shot.

    In the late morning, I returned to Portland along Columbia River, visiting Oneonta Gorge and the Latourell Falls. I was fortunate with Oneonta – the water was only chest deep. No swimming necessary – though I did wear swim gear. The gorge was busy on a warm, sunny Sunday afternoon. I waited patiently as other visitors came and went, catching moments where the gorge seemed unoccupied. I don't have anything against people (well, most people), I just don't prefer people in my landscapes.

    Latourell Falls was also fun. I was pretty tired by the time I got there, yet managed the strength to visit the upper falls. I actually took more enjoyment popping off the trail here and there to shoot portions of the stream as it weaved through dead trees and rocks. Maybe I was starting to get waterfall-ed out.

    In the late afternoon, I recharged my batteries at my hotel – literally and figuratively – then headed back out to Marquam Hill for a shot of the Marquam Bridge. Or so that was the plan. Unfamiliar with the area, I couldn't find the right vantage to get the shot I wanted. I felt like I did a stadium run with all of the stairs I went up and down. I walked away without the shot I wanted (but that would change the next day).
  • Day 3 / Sunrise and the "Mystery" Shoot
    Sunrise on the Portland waterfront was peaceful. Nice. I setup on the east side of the river near the Hawthorne Bridge. There was decent cloud cover, giving the sky some interest. And I got to watch a rowing team do all of their setup and launch, which in and of itself was a mini-education.

    I spent most of the day at onOne Software talking photography, Suite 9, sharing war stories, having fun. You couldn't ask for a nicer group of people. I asked Dan Harlacher where he took his shot of the Marquam Bridge – a shot I have loved since I first saw it. Now I know where to go! I met up with Hudson Henry that night, strolled around Pill Hill, and got a shot of the bridge. 

    Hudson is a great guy and if you haven't already, you should check out his work. We chatted about all sorts of things while shooting. And he turned me on to Sauvie Island, which is where I ended up the next morning.
  • Day 4 / Miscellaneous & Travel
    I slept in... or at least tried to. I guess my body was used to getting up early. It wasn't a restful night. I spent the morning driving through downtown Portland, weaving back and forth across the several bridges that span the Willamette River. A scouting run – yeah, I'm sure I'll go back. I stopped by Kelley Point, a quiet little park with some gnarled trees littering shallow beaches (it's a little strange to me there's a beach along a river :).

    Then I took Hudson's advice and tooled along Sauvie Island. It's a mix of farmland and river life. Pastoral. Quiet. The channel that runs along the western side of the island is very calm. I don't recall seeing a single boat during my visit. And this left the water's surface like glass – just how us photographers like it.

    The rest of the day became a lot more travel than intended. Weather in San Francisco delayed my flights significantly. At least I did get home and didn't have to sleep in SFO.

Rest assured there will be lots of photos to come from this trip.

I'm completely knackered now. Besides working on just a few hours of sleep a day, flight delays didn't get me home until 2am Wednesday morning. And my work day started at 6am. I will sleep well tonight!