[/caption] One of the best times of the season to photograph along the Willamette river, in Portland, is during Fall if you’re wanting to get the glare of the city in the foreground. The contrast won’t be as good as late Spring or early summer but you will have a better chance of getting the glare. I took this shot in late November about 2 years ago and forgot about it until I was going through my inventory of Portland photos. I wasn’t using a tripod and I was shooting with my very basic Canon 18-55mm lens and had the focal length at 34mm. I was using my CIR-PL and warming filter and had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -2 since the sun was still pretty bright even though it was late in the season and it was about 2:00 pm.
[/caption] Some of the best photographic opportunities are along the walking and bike trails that span between the Hawthorne bridge and the Steal bridge on the east side of the Willamette river. However, you have to get a little help from the light and the season. That’s because some of the hardest photos to get are also along the same exact stretch of walking/biking trails. I find that early Fall and late Spring offer some of the best opportunities since the sun is lower in the sky and the vegetation is at its best. I took this shot near the steal bridge and I was riding a bike so I didn’t have a tripod. The lighting was excellent and it was late spring so I was lucky enough to have the best photo opportunity. The sun was at about a 90 degree angle and the date of the photo was on 5/20/11 and the time was 10:33am. The sky was perfectly saturated and the buildings had a warm glow with very little overexposure. I also attached my CIR-PL and warming filter in order to take advantage of the lighting. I was using my Sigma 17-70mm lens and had the focal length at 38mm. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/200 seconds. I also set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at -0.7 due to the brightness of the morning.
[/caption] You can get some of the best views of Downtown Portland from the Sellwood neighborhood in SE Portland. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, Sellwood park and almost anywhere along the river offers some unique photo opportunities. You might also see a bald eagles or blue heron when you’re there. It also offers the best views of SW Portland and OHSU up on the hill. You can also see as far north as Lloyd center. However, some of the best views are of the Wetlands that team along the rivers edge. I spent almost the entire day hiking up and down the parks as well as the river and took well over 1,000 shots. I was using my Canon T1I along with my Sigma 17-70mm lens. I had the focal length at 50mm in order to frame the city skyline along with the marina and buildings stretching along the river. I had the camera mode in Program/Normal so the aperture was at F-7 and the shutter speed at 1/200 second. I was using my warming filter and CIR-PL in order to defuse some of the harsh light emitting from the water and clouds. I also wanted to saturate the sky as much as possible in order to avoid any overexposure. I had the ISO at 100 and the white balance at 0 due to the low clouds. Since I took this shot at 12:00pm I thought that the sky would be completely washed out but the incoming storm clouds kept most of the day interesting and created an awesome personality.
[/caption] This is one of my favorite and better photos of Downtown Portland. It looks really good as a printed 8×24 panoramic printed photo since you will have to crop out a majority of the water and some of the sky in order to print at this size. Portland is a very difficult city to photograph when trying to get all of the buildings and bridges in the frame. This is especially true if you want to have the Willamette river in the foreground. You most definitely need a wide angle lens if you plan on getting the majority of the city scape in the photo. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and had the focal length at 12mm. Luckily it was 10:30pm at night when I took this shot so I was able to remove my warming and CIR-PL filter which creates shadows on each of the corners of the frame. Therefore I was able to maximize the frame potential of the scene. I took this photo on 7/27/10 so the sky was void of any clouds and the air was a bit stale since the temperature in the afternoon hovered around 90 degrees. I was wanting to capture the glare and colors of the lights illuminating the night sky as well as the glare of the lights on the water so I set the camera in shutter priority and set it at 16 seconds. Again, since it was 10:30pm I increased the ISO to 400 and kept the white balance at 0. Since I wasn’t using the manual setting the aperture was at F-13. I was also using my tripod, bubble level and remote switch.
[/caption] The Fall colors are finally starting to dominate the downtown Portland landscape and the weather was sunny and warm. I can’t think of a better way to spend the day than biking along the Willamette river and the many bridges that span the river. One of the best ways to really get a good look of the city is by bicycle. There are miles of paved paths that travel on both the west and east sides of the Willamette river. Most of the bridges also have pedestrian paths that allow walkers, joggers and bikers to safely cross. Normally I walk along the river so I can spend a lot of time photographing the city. However, this time I decided to try something a bit different by traveling as much as I can while photographing several different areas throughout the city. You pretty much have to ditch the tripod and only pack a few lenses but it’s well worth it. There are plenty of free 2 hour parking spots throughout the city which makes it easier to travel by bike. Especially since you can quickly get back to your car before you get a ticket. Biking through the city can be tricky during the early afternoon on a warm sunny fall day but it’s a great opportunity to get people in your photos. This photo was taken just north of the Burnside Bridge with the Ben Franklin building in the background. You can see the rich colors along with some of the still green vegetation lining the river near the city. I like this shot of the wispy cloud almost directly over the top of the building and with the Made in Oregon sign next to it. It almost looks like a giant chimney billowing out smoke from its top. This photo really shows just how much personality Portland has. The combination of several bridges, the Willamette river, vegetation and the buildings create a fantastic atmosphere. To get this shot I was using my Canon T1I Rebel along with my Tokina 12-24 wide-angle lens and the focal length for this photo was at 15mm. I had my UV, warming and CIR-PL filter attached to my lens. Because I was riding my bike, I wasn’t carrying my tripod. The glare was fairly intense since I took this photo at 12:25pm and I took this photos almost due south. I usually just put the sun in the upper left or right of the frame in order to avoid sun spots or too much exposure. However, my warming filter and CIR-PL always eliminates this problem. Again, I can’t stress the importance of using these filters anytime you are taking pictures during full sun. I had the camera in program mode so the shutter speed was at 1/64 second and the F stop was at F-5.6. I set the ISO to 100 and adjusted the white balance to 0. I always make sure to set my camera to the histogram setting so I can quickly review the photo and make immediate adjustments if needed. I highly recommend a bike trip in the city if you really want to get a great opportunity to get some great views of the downtown area.
[/caption] Recently I’ve had the opportunity to shoot Portland at night. I’ve been photographing the downtown area for several years but I had never been given the opportunity to take a photo at night looking east and at an elevated position. This spot puts me just over I-5 and just east of the Willamette river. This provides me with one of the best vantage spots in the city. I wanted to set my shutter long enough so I could get the best flash movements of the headlights and tail lights of the traffic moving about the city. The colors of the bridges as well as the many other on ramps and roads really gives this photo a lot of personality. To get this shot I was using my 12-24 wide angle lens. I had the focal length at 24mm in order to get as much in the scene as possible. Since the sun had set over an hour ago, I made sure to remove my warming filter and CIR-PL. I was using the shutter priority and had the shutter set at 30 seconds in order to capture as much of the streamers from the cars as possible. The F stop was at F11 and the ISO was at 400. The Exposure Compensation/White Balance was at -.3.