View Full Version : Portland Oregon

2-Dec-2015, 12:54
Hi all,
Wanted some advice on an upcoming trip to Portland. I arrive Sat Dec 12 and am there until the 18th.
I know one person there as well as a photographer I follow (whom works at a camera shop), Zeb Andrews (http://zebandrewsphotography.com/) and Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/zebandrews/). Zeb has offered to show me around and whatnot, he told me the other day he would cook something up and email me back.

Although I wanted some generic advice and pointers. I don't drive in ice/snow much being from Texas, but will have an SUV.
Also purchased crampons, per his advice.

I plan to bring my 4x5 kit (90mm and 210mm) and Hasselblad 500C/M (80mm lens).
May also tote my Leica M2.

Thanks in advance for the help. Kinda going there solo and blind. A little nervous, but excited to explore.

Drew Wiley
2-Dec-2015, 13:20
Black ice on the roads can be the name of the game up there, especially crossing the bridges near downtown or driving upriver into the Gorge, which can certainly
be worthwhile if you drive carefully. It also helps to have a waterproof darkcloth and not just personal raingear. Some big microfiber towels are also useful for
wiping your gear dry. You'll need them.

2-Dec-2015, 13:40
Ah, good ideas sir. Thanks. I don't normally shoot in snow/ice.
I have a BTZS darkcloth. I think it is somewhat waterproof.

I also have lots of camping/raingear/boots/etc. I am carrying on only, so I won't have a ton of "gear", but I will do my best to have layers and be prepared.

At night, just wipe everything down good? Tripod, cameras, lenses, etc and let them breath?
Assuming I am not in a hostel room with 8 other people. But I can leave it all out on bed while I read until locking it up.

When I was in South America and Europe I slept with my cameras haha.

Paul Cunningham
3-Dec-2015, 00:28
We have far more rain than snow and ice, at least in the metro area. But if you want snow, you can certainly find it. What type of subjects do you usually shoot?

Michael S
3-Dec-2015, 07:47
Forget about the subjects that you usually shoot. If you wanted to do that you could stay in Texas. Come on out to the Columbia River Gorge for some spectacular landscapes and views. This is the place I have chosen to live in, and it is like no other place I have ever seen.

3-Dec-2015, 08:30
I normally shoot landscapes, still life, etc. Nothing too exciting or new, but I enjoy it. It is slow paced and the opposite of normal life from my generation (20-somethings).
Instagram Link (https://www.instagram.com/jpinthedarkroom/)
Flickr Link (https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnathonpowers/)
Website (www.johnathonpowers.com)

I would love to see the Gorge, any waterfalls even if frozen, etc etc. I don't know how much of what I can access or not, nor ever been there at all.
Hoping to get some advice here and from the webs, as well as the few people I know that live in Portland.

Richard Wasserman
3-Dec-2015, 09:07
Our son lived there for several years and I have visited many times. You will have a good time. Portland is a fun and visually interesting city full of restaurants and coffee shops and most residents seem to be about your age. The Gorge is beautiful with a very diverse landscape. Don't be too scared by the weather, compared to Chicago where I live it's quite mild. Although I was there once when they had snow and ice and the city shut down for a couple days—that was sort of fun too. You'll be on vacation after all...

I've attached a photo of the Gorge and of course it was raining. It always seems to rain when I travel for photography, sometimes record setting rain. But that's another story.

3-Dec-2015, 09:33
Definitely drive along the Gorge - it's not too far to Multnomah Falls. If you have time to drive around, there's Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, the high desert, the Pacific Coast, etc, etc.

matthew blais
3-Dec-2015, 09:35
Take a 45 minute drive to Cannon Beach. Quaint town and great vistas

Drew Wiley
3-Dec-2015, 12:55
The wind whips down that Gorge in the winter and can turn the Gorge roads and bridges deadly with black ice even when the streets in town seem OK. Everyone up there uses studded tires in the winter, so I wouldn't take it for granted, esp this year when things have already started getting wacky. Uphill to the ski resort and Mt Hood is a different scenario, but I'd imagine chains would be required at a certain point. Driving toward the coast is less likely to be impacted by ice or snow. Astoria is a wonderful quiet town to poke around. It's pleasantly underwater about 80% of the summer, so probably 100% unpleasantly wet this time of year. One more argument for a Goretex darkcloth. When things just get too wet to travel far, there are some nice things to photograph in town, including the Rose Garden and around Lk Oswego. Downtown is kinda interesting too, provided you stay away from the newer part of it like Loyd Center. Or do like I do, and when things just get too wet for a view camera, pack MF or 35mm under your raincoat and go snapshooting.

3-Dec-2015, 13:21
Thanks all for the advice. This is great.

I will have an "SUV" for what it is worth. I think when traveling to further away, I will try and get good advice from Zeb and others currently there and even have them go along with me if they are off work for a day or two.
I may be young, but oddly enough I have some good sense. Being an Eagle Scout (that too for what it is worth in today's time) and growing up hunting and outdoors and handy, I know when something is risky or too hairy.

And yes, the rain will be a problem/pain in the butt. I have a nice softshell (practically hardshell) and will bring waterproof pants as well.

For the portrait work I would love to dive and dip between the outdoors and small towns out and about.
Random diners/coffee shops, etc.

3-Dec-2015, 16:27
watch the parking around the rose garden. Lots of breakins of vehicles - a friend lost a ton of canon gear there a year ago.

Gorge yesterday and today is experiencing ice. May be over this afternoon as it is warming.

If the Gorge clears, there is an excellent road from downtown Troutdale up the Sandy and over the ridge to the women's forum viewpoint, followed by Crown Point, then dropping down past a number of waterfalls, past Multnomah Falls, Past Horsetail falls then returning to I-84.
Then on I-84 stop at the Bonneville Dam exit but turn right and take the hike to Wahclela Falls. Heading east on I-84 there is a turnout to the right just after the tunnel - leads to Eagle Creek (many waterfalls).
Returning to I-84 eastbound, pass the Cascade Locks and watch for Starvation Creek turnout/rest area. Nice waterfall with extremely short hike.
Returning to I-84 east, pass Hood River and turn off at Mosier and take the old road eastbound - it will lead you to the overlook (off a short stub road) with the view someone posted earlier in this thread.
Head east on I-84 and take the bridge over the Columbia to highway 14. Unfortunately Horsethief State Park is closed or you could see a bunch of interesting petroglyphs (and a hike to She-Who-Watches).
Come back to Vancouver via highway 14 -- stopping at Dog Creek Falls (lots more to see along this stretch).

Have fun

But you might also consider going to Silver Falls State Park east of Salem if you want more waterfalls....

Drew Wiley
3-Dec-2015, 16:31
Well there are plenty of places to eat and hang out, both downtown and up the Gorge. In a town where it rains much of the year, hanging out has become a fine
art. People-wise, there are quite a few scruffy subjects as well, though you might be careful exactly who you point a lens at. Some of the burbs are distinctly
rednecky; but I guess if you're from Texas you already know how to approach those kind. Sit down at a breakfast bar in some little hole in the wall and strike
up a conversation about local hunting or fishing. Portland does have very different kinds of neighborhoods, however, and damn few of them resembling that silly
TV series, Portlandia, though my wife sure got a laugh out of it, since she grew up there, as did some of my family.

4-Dec-2015, 14:51
Astoria is west of Portland (couple hours drive, I think (someone can correct me)). It has a lot of character is a jumping off point to see the west coast.

4-Dec-2015, 16:01
Thank you all. This has been great. Taking notes!

7-Dec-2015, 08:49
Some local hip places that were suggested to me over the weekend:
Tasty n Alder
Whiskey Library
Ace Hotel
Pepe La Moco
Coava Coffee
Pips Donuts
Salt and Straw

No real plan(s) yet. I am waiting to hear back from Zeb about what ideas he has.

For the day I shoot portraits, I am thinking about spending a few hours in town, maybe coffee/donuts and portraits in public areas like that. Whiskey Library (https://www.google.com/search?q=whiskey+library+portland&espv=2&biw=1920&bih=1019&tbm=isch&imgil=2Wi09_h35Bpw8M%253A%253Bioyp-JxXLUWTZM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.reddit.com%25252Fr%25252FRoomPorn%25252Fcomments%25252F22f3r1%25252Fmultnomah_whiskey_library_portland_oregon%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=2Wi09_h35Bpw8M%253A%252Cioyp-JxXLUWTZM%252C_&usg=__ZYesv_7xoXxevjI0Qi99-nmRZAk%3D&ved=0ahUKEwiDnNL2jMrJAhVDFz4KHS_qCccQyjcIQA&ei=oKplVoPMMsOu-AGv1Ke4DA#imgrc=_&usg=__ZYesv_7xoXxevjI0Qi99-nmRZAk%3D) might be a cool place to shoot a few portraits, push to 1600 or something.
Then head somewhere, stopping off at random places and towns. Just shooting and going.
The lady I am shooting had a lung issue earlier this year and can't do anything too strenuous or far from a hospital. I will leave the major hiking to my solo days or days with a buddy.

For the other days, I guess I will spend at least 3 of them going on long day trips.

When in Portland, I will probably couch surf some of the nights and stay at Travelers' House the other nights. Someone I know is passing it by his wife for me to crash there for a night or two.
Not too worried about this, I will find something.

Paul Cunningham
17-Dec-2015, 10:52
Looking forward to a report on your trip!

5-Jan-2016, 14:11
Man o man. The trip was wonderful.
Thanks for all the advice. I met up with Zeb at Blue Moon Camera right after I landed at the airport.

And that was great to have first hand advice from a local and a photographer.

I ended up shooting ~20 sheets of b&w film and 10 sheets of color film (of which I learned an interesting lesson, since I don't shoot a ton of color).
Probably 12 rolls of 120 and 4 or 5 rolls of 35mm.

It rained. A lot. The entire trip. But it did not slow me down, much at least.

All my color has been developed and I am scanning, scanning, and scanning some more.
I need to develop the B&W. After talking to the lab I use for color (AZ photo lab), the tech (whom I know from going there for many years) gave me some good advice. He developed 2-3 rolls of b&w for me. And I finally asked. After all these years of developing my own B&W (4ish years and I guess 200 rolls), mine never come out as crisp as theirs. My edges often are not as clear (not fixing long enough), and my negatives often feel flat. The negatives from the lab always have contrast and look great as the negative itself. Told him my process and using D76 all these years. Anyway that is neither here nor there.

The Trip
Landed on a Saturday.
-Invited by Zeb to go with him and his family to Mount Hood that very night.
-Couldn't go too far because of the snow.
-Experienced putting chains on their car for my first time.
-We went to a little town and he spent time with his son. I walked around and snapped a few photos.
-Saw my first snowball fight. I was in my own world looking into my Hassie viewfinder and a kid came up to ask if they could play or would be in my way.

Went to the coast.
-Didn't get up as early as I hoped. I was plum wore out.
-Tree fell down on my way and was stuck in traffic for an hour or two.
-Zeb said type in Astoria and go from there.
-So I did. Problem was I end up in Astoria around 1PM and had no idea what I was doing. Haha.
-Ended up going see a downed ship (can't recall the name of it, but you all know it I'm sure).
-After that it was already dark.
-Learned how early it gets dark.
-Assumed it must get light really early (to which I ended up learning that isn't true...just short days).
-Zeb suggested the coast the first day, because if I liked it I could plan another day trip later in the week.

Went east to the waterfalls.
-Stopped off at Women's Forum. Wow.
-Then made my way to Vista House.
-Then proceeded to see 2 falls that day.
-Saw Latourell first (hiked up it too, but ended up not being much to see...in my opinion)
-Then stopped and hiked to Bridal Veil.
-Cut my day off around 3PM to head to Portland.
-Picked up Andrea (model I was shooting for the next day) and we went eat dinner and shot at Powell's bookstore.

Day spent shooting Andrea...until 1PM. She had a train to catch.
-Had coffee at Coava. Took photos in and around the place.
-Drove to Vista House and Latourell falls...getting lost at some point.
-Once "lost" I decided to take a few photos in a field that had all but been cleared and was just full of stumps.
-Was very cold and dreary conditions, so photos were a bit tedious.
-I would stage and get the shot ready, then have her come from the car.

Went back to the falls.
-Spent some time at Multnomah Falls. Hiked the loop in front of it.
-Hiked up (as suggested by Zeb) to Ponytail Falls (from Horsetail). It was worth it, even with all my gear.
-Cannot remember what all else I saw this day.
-Ah, how could I forgot. Zeb showed me around St. Johns bridge (no apostrophe). And I proceeded to shoot there that night until around 8-9PM. Both LF at first then my MF camera.

Went back to the coast.
-Got up early and got to see a lot...well sort of. It rained a TON this day.
-Boy was I cold and wet standing there taking photos of Haystack and the Needles. The only one I saw on the beach for hours. (editors note: what were all the rubbery looking squid things ALL over the beach)
-Then drove down (as suggested by Zeb) Cape Kiwanda. But it was soooooo dark and pitch black I couldn't see anything, except for when I first arrived.
-I planned to take some night photography (by now only using Hassie, since it was raining and the wind was howling) and did. But doubt I got much of anything. Even at 10-30min exposures.
-Finally left around 8PM and headed back to Portland.

Flew to Denver (missed my flight haha)
-Had, had, had to go back to Powell's. Picked up Recollections by John Sexton (actually bought it on my 2nd trip to the store on Tues, I think).
-The book is inscribed by John himself, unbeknownst to the store. I made them aware of it, when I asked...is this John Sexton's autograph. The guy at first said no, because the book and file would be noted as such. But then he looked at it and said..."man that sure does look like it. Well, I wouldn't say anything."

PS: What I learned about color film from my lab is this. You "can't" push color negative film. After about halfway through the trip I started underexposing some of the "flat" scenes and was going to overdevelop, to bring out contrast...read it somewhere on the internet. We know the internet is always right. I normally overexpose and underdevelop (or develop at speed still) as per something I read in one of Ansel Adams' books. But, nevertheless, supposedly for color negative film you can push it, but it one effect density or exposure, just contrast. This young one still has so much to learn.

Alas, that was my trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am sure there is much to the coast I missed. I wish I could have seen/photographed some of the lighthouses.

5-Jan-2016, 22:54
The rubbery squid things on the beach may have been bull kelp.

5-Jan-2016, 23:03
Silver Falls State Park -- east of Salem.

Drew Wiley
6-Jan-2016, 10:01
What are probably the finest set of falls in that part of Oregon is a local secret, Vaughn. A friend found them deer hunting; and nobody but my parents knew the
name of them. I still own the pioneer cemetery next to the old mill which is now headquarters for the Oregon Historical printing press, which my grandfather once
owned. A fairly easy hike off a logging road; but I'm not posting anything. If you happen to get up that way, I can message it. I haven't been there since my pre-pyro and graded paper only days. So it was one of those heavily dodged and burned images that I should probably dig up and attempt with newer paper. I gave
the original print to my friend.

6-Jan-2016, 10:06
Very interesting story Drew. I love hearing and getting off the path. Not much of nature these days is "untouched".
One must wait for the crowds to dissipate and get an angle that doesn't have signs or lamp posts in the frame.

Drew Wiley
6-Jan-2016, 10:43
I personally had spectacular waterfalls where I grew up in the Sierra; but even getting to the swimming holes below a set of them could cost you your life. I don't know if our big roll of sisal "donkey rope" really made it any safer; but somehow I survived. A couple of my cronies were swept over. Some of those canyon walls were over 8,000 high - twice the depth of the Grand Canyon - so falls were everywhere. Some seasonal ones were even higher than Yosemite Falls, but of course, don't really factor into statistics or tourist sights, simply because they might run only a week or two a year, and could be hell to get to. The falls in Oregon are more like a ten minute walk after some distinctly dusty driving past ugly clearcuts. But juggling view camera gear on muddy paths anywhere mandates a decent pair of hiking boots. I'm seldom in central Oregon anymore, but still have family in Portland, so have had quite a few opportunities for good long wet dayhikes in the Gorge. One more reason why I carry a black Goretex darkcloth for my 8x10.

6-Jan-2016, 11:00
I must say the best decision I made on the trip was to wear a pair of leather boots that are Goretex and insulated.

I was often soaked head to toe, maybe not my chest too much, due to a really nice Rab Neo Shell jacket I wore. But my gore tex pants developed a small hole near the back of my thigh and water would get in around my waistband somehow. Although, my feet never got wet. Even when a tide would come in and go up way past my ankles. I generally dress "trendy" and almost grabbed my Dr. Marten boots that are made to look rugged and old and beat up. Boy would that have been a poor decision. Being an Eagle Scout, I am surprised I even gave it a thought.

Drew Wiley
6-Jan-2016, 11:17
Going up popular Gorge trails like Eagle Creek, I actually prefer wet weekdays, because not as many people are around (and there are some very narrow sections of trail, and me with a very big wide pack), and due to the natural softbox lighting rain provides. Almost wanted fishing waders for a shot in the middle of the Creek; but what the heck, a pair of wet boots was worth it.