We are now just one day away from Thanksgiving and while the rest of the United States is experiencing some of the worst weather in decades, Portland, Oregon is experiencing some of the sunniest weather on record. Most of the Pacific Northwest has been enjoying some of the best November weather in decades. This photo of downtown Portland with Mt. Hood in the background pretty much sums up what I’m talking about. As you can see, there are no clouds and nothing but blue sky. It also helps that Mt. Hood is still resembling a giant snow cone without any hints of bare rock exposure. This is largely due to the fact that we have been getting some pretty chilly temperatures, which helps keep the snow in place. Old man winter is expected to make a brief appearance this weekend but we will then be introduced to the sun miser for a few more days before the nasty winter weather again returns. Nothing says winter like seeing some snow fall in the high Cascades in order to take advantage of the ski resorts and snow parks.
What’s going on in Portland’s Lloyd district and parts of the Pearl District as of today! Currently a massive construction project got under way and as I drove by the construction zone I noticed a crater about 30 feet deep and an area about the size of 5 football fields being torn up. They are in the process of building a 21 story apartment high rise as well as 3 additional 5 story buildings which will include parks and walking areas. This is probably the Lloyd areas largest and most extensive building project in it’s history. This is especially true since it’s primary reason is for residential housing. If you look at the photo, the tower will be located just behind the green glass spire that’s part of the convention center. Another major construction project that is supposed to start soon is the Portland convention center hotel that will be between the convention center and just east of the I-5 freeway. If you look at the photo, it would be almost right in the middle of where you see the Moda center and the convention center. This high rise is expected to be at least 22 stories and have 600 rooms. It’s also expected to attract several smaller construction develops around the hotel. For anybody interested in what’s going on in the Pearl District, they are almost finished with a 6 story hotel that they have been working on and it’s located along the train tracks and across the street from the Encore building. There is also a lot of buzz about two different towers that they are planning to build near the Encore. One is slated to be around 26 stories and the other around 24 stories. I’m not holding my breath on these but if they do build them, it will really change the entire face of the Pearl District. This is especially true since there are several residential building currently under construction on the north end of the neighborhood.
This is the official last sunny and somewhat warm day in Portland, Oregon 2013. The cold and blustery weather has arrived and the creeks and rivers are beginning to become swollen with rain water and leavers. Even the mountains are preparing for a long and snowy winter. There is nothing more awesome that taking advantage of the very last day of perfect autumn weather and capturing it on film. You can attest by noticing how the trees are roasted in red, yellow and orange with just a dash of green holding out. The blue skis provides the perfect back drop with the low flying sun casting early afternoon shadows below. As I was walking along the east esplanade I noticed someone fishing down on the dock and decided to try and get a shot while he was casting. Since I didn’t have my tripod I was concerned that my shots wouldn’t be aligned so I ended up taking several shots as the fisherman continued to cast his fishing pole into the Willamette River. Luckily, most of the boaters had wandered off, so I wouldn’t have to worry about too much ripples in the water. Due to all of the wind and rain over the last few days, even if we are blessed with another sunny and cloudless day, you can bet that most of the leaves are off the trees. Therefore, I can almost guarantee that this is the last photo of a sunny autumn day in Portland, Oregon.
Here is another photo of downtown Portland, Oregon, taken from the East Esplanade. As you can see, it provides a completely different perspective of the city skyline, which includes a great view of the Willamette river and the walk way that leads to one of the many bridges. However, what you can’t see is the majority of the city skyline as for reasons mentioned on my last blog posting. This photo shows the Burnside bridge in the far left and the Morrison Bridge on the far right. However, you also can’t see any of the other 6 bridges that span over the river. Normally the river is pretty busy, on a nice day during summer, but I was able to get this shot with parts of the buildings reflecting off the still water. The trees are also a great photographic element in both the background and foreground. If you’re interested in taking advantage of some of the great spots along the East Esplanade I would highly recommend that you bring along a bike so you can complete the many miles of bike/walking trails in much less time. I normally ride the entire length of the East Esplanade and then ride over the steel bridge and then ride all the way to the South Waterfront. I then backtrack to the Hawthorne bridge and make the trek back over the river and sometimes repeat. If you decide to ride a bike, I would highly recommend that you leave your tripod in the car and be sure to bring along your wide angle lens.
Is Portland, Oregon considered a major city or is it considered a big town? If you read several posts from visitors, recent transplants or from locals, you will hear several different ways to describe Portland, Oregon. Portland is considered the 22nd largest city in the United States, with just under about 675,000 residents. However, you wouldn’t know it by looking at its skyline. I have always been drawn to a cities skyline and I try to really capture it’s grandness by seeing how much of it I can cram into a single wide angle photo. Sometimes I can’t fit an entire city skyline in a single photo but that just allows me to take as many photos as I can and from different vantage points throughout the cities boundaries. However, Portland is a different animal since it’s high rises are somewhat spread out even though they are well within view from most vantage points. Sounds confusing but unfortunately there are several different parts that are located in several different localities within the cities core. The majority of the buildings are located in the downtown hub but then there are several of Portland’s biggest building located farther to the south, called the South Waterfront, in the north east, called the Lloyd district, the north west, called the Pearl/brewery block district and last but not least the west side. What especially makes photographing Portland difficult is that most of the buildings are less than 40 stories tall. In fact, there are only 3 buildings that reach 40 stories. Most people also think of the snow capped mountains in the background of Portland’s skyline or the Willamette river and it’s many draw bridges standing in the foreground. I would say that having a city like Portland is a great way to really challenge a landscape photographer but it can really cause some serous frustration.
[/caption] A very unique and rare view of Portland, Oregon. I took this photo from just below the hospital in the west hills of downtown. There are several viewing spots along the winding stretch of road that leads to the hospital but most of the views are obscured by the trees that line the hills. You pretty much have to choose a line and then try to take a more unique photo, which is what I did for this shot. This photo includes the east part of Portland with parts of the Hawthorne bridge and the Willamette river in the lower part of the foreground. The buildings make up the east industrial part of the city with the foothills of the Cascades in the distance. There are hundreds of photo opportunities that you can only find in this part of the city but you have to get pretty creative since you don’t have any opportunities to take any panoramic photos due to the thick vegetation that pretty much requires you to think outside of the box but offers some great rewards once you find a great opportunity.
[/caption] Dragon boats tied up along Portland’s marina with downtown Portland looming in the distance. Portland’s Rose Festival is just a few weeks away but there is plenty of traffic along the Willamette river as dragon boats racers gear up for the June 8th races. I was lucky to find a dozen of the boats moored along Portland’s marina without anyone inside them. I just walked around and looked for the best shot as they calmly swayed in the slow moving current. It also helped to have a sunny sky with absolutely no clouds or glare to hinder my photo opportunity.
[/caption] Panoramic view of Portland from Mt. Tabor offers some great photo opportunities as well as some great exercise hiking the winding trails. The water in the foreground is one of the three reservoir’s found in the Mt. Tabor park. The west hills are directly behind Portland and the houses in the foreground is part of east Portland or better known as the Hawthorne district. If you do decide to visit the park and expect to take some pictures of the city, you may want to be aware of the sun glare and the relative distance between you and Portland. Due to the distance and the sun, you will find that taking a photo with your camera in a horizontal position can and will probably create a more drab image than if you position your camera in the vertical position. By turning a camera sideways, photographers achieve a vertical photograph in order to further limit the field of vision. Having the camera in a horizontal position won’t achieve the same effect. Basically, the light that enters your camera sensor in the vertical position is more ideal than in a horizontal position. This isn’t always true in other settings, and mostly just the opposite but due to the fact that the sun is at a left angle, at about 90 degrees, and due to the distance between the foreground and the background, vertical photos have a much better chance of looking more crisp. You should try it out for yourself and find out. I’ve been visiting Mt. Tabor for several years and I’ve concluded that my vertical shots look a hundred times better than my horizontal shots and I’ve pretty much concluded that it’s due to the reasons I just explained. I’m sure that someone else has a different theory but this is the best that I could come up with.
[/caption] A great view of Portland and the St. Johns Railroad bridge as well as the foothills of the Cascades, the Willamette river and the Port of Portland. You can also get great views of Forest park aw well. I took this photo from the St. Johns bridge, which offers some awesome and interesting views of Portland that no other bridge offers. You can also get a great view of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helen’s and Mt. Rainier from the bridge. The park that sits just below the bridge, in St. Johns, is a great place to photograph the grander of the bridge. Since you are facing south when viewing Portland, you may want to visit during the early morning or later afternoon since the glare of the sun can really wash out your photos as well as too much back light can really ruin your shots. Even though the St. Johns bridge is pretty long, you can access it pretty easily and you can walk to the middle span in just a few minutes. There are two large and very safe viewing platforms that you can set up a tripod or just enjoy the views without having to stand too close to the big rigs blaring by you. However, you may want to watch out for bicycles since they also use the platform as they ride across the bridge.
[/caption] This is the view of Portland from the Broadway bridge. The Broadway bridge offers some of the best views of the city but you need to make sure to get here before 10:30 am since the sun travels directly behind the city and the river, which causes too much glare and back light. This photo was taken at around 10:07 am and the sun was at about a 90 degree angle in the upper left corner. I was positioning the camera towards the SW part of the city and I was standing at about the middle part of the bridge span. The are some spots where you can find shade, to eliminate most of the glare, but if you get there early enough you won’t have to worry about the sun glare as much. Every bridge, in Portland, offers some great views and awesome photo opportunities but the Broadway bridge gives you the best bang for your buck.