Downtown Portland's Unnatural Beauty
Sunday 26 April 2015 — Category: Outings
Right after my photo outing and picnic at Portland’s River View Cemetery — see my article Dying to Photograph a Cemetery — I headed downtown to the largest camera store in the city: Pro Photo Supply, where I had taken my first step into a brand-new (Micro Four Thirds) world back in 2012.
Even though I had been to that store half a dozen times, I had never taken the time to explore the surrounding area. So this time I did take the time — just a half hour or so. I ended up in The Fields Neighborhood Park in the Pearl District, at the northern end of downtown Portland.
From there you have a great view of the elegant, double-decker Fremont Bridge which carries Interstate 405 and U.S. Route 30 over the Willamette River.
Because I didn’t have time for another photographic outing that day, I vowed to return in the near future, so I could discover the many treasures of the Pearl District and the rest of downtown Portland.
Earlier this month I kept that vow by taking a 5-mile, 7-hour, 750-image photo-walk through part of the inner city. I’ve already recounted many of the details in my previous article — see A Country Bumpkin in the Big City — so I won’t repeat myself here.
I took so many interesting shots that they are too numerous to squeeze into a single album. I took enough pictures along the west bank and the east bank of the Willamette River, as well as from bridges spanning the river, that each of those three locations deserve their own album.
Because I had already shared some photos from my quick March visit to The Fields Neighborhood Park, I decided to combine them with the images from my longer April outing which were taken downtown, but not along or over the river.
Therefore, in the Portland Downtown Spring 2015 album, the first six photos were taken in March, while the remaining 52 images are from the trip I made about ten days ago. In keeping with my love of black and white photography, eight of the pictures are monochrome, and can also be viewed in the Black and White 2015 album.
It took me an entire day to research the buildings and locations I had photographed, in order to provide accurate and informative captions for each picture. Rather than letting all that effort go to waste, I marked each location in Google Earth, so I would have that information for future reference. Even better, I linked each location to its relevant article on Wikipedia, or another Web page if a Wikipedia article was lacking. I also marked the path I took during my five-mile April walk.
Even better, I have saved the locations to a Google Earth .kmz file and am sharing it on this Web site so that anyone can download it. Once opened in Google Earth on your device, you can virtually examine nearly 50 wonderful buildings and locations in Portland. Hint: be sure to enable the 3D Buildings option. You can download this Google Earth file by clicking here.
If you take the time to consider the locations of my nearly 100 photo outings all over Oregon, almost all of them have been in the great outdoors away from cities. Oregon has amazing and abundant natural beauty, and I thrive on that splendor which transcends man, as well as on the silence and solitude I experience away from civilization.
In light of all this, it is really amazing that I would even want to go on photo outings in Portland, the largest city in Oregon. The official Portland metro area encompasses 25 cities, has a population of 1.5 million, and covers hundreds of square miles.
The expanded greater Portland metro area, which includes more towns near Portland, as well as the Vancouver, Washington, area right across the Columbia River from Portland, boosts the totals to 2.3 million people spread over nearly 6,700 square miles.
What is even more astonishing is that I have really enjoyed my first handful of outings to such an urban area. And I am eagerly looking forward to making one or two photo outings a month there, for the foreseeable future. What in the world has gotten into me?
God is the Creator, and His works in nature are unsurpassed. Yet He is not the only creator — He has given human beings some of His creative ability. Therefore it should not come as too much of a surprise that man can create his own splendors as well. During my walks around downtown Portland, I have found much of this man-made beauty to admire.
In my photographic wanderings all over Oregon, I have neglected this vital corner of the state for too long. I can’t explain why I am suddenly attracted to it, but while it lasts I will put natural Oregon on the back burner, and focus my photography on the unnatural beauty of downtown Portland and the rest of the metro area.
Other articles about this outing: