Portland’s North Mississippi Avenue With Olympus
Monday 5 September 2016 — Category: Outings
For the past four years, ever since my first step into a brand-new (Micro Four Thirds) world, I have been enjoying the photo blog of Robin Wong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. About three years ago he became an Olympus Malaysia employee.
Since then he has led a number of official Olympus photo walks in his area. Whenever I read his articles resulting from those outings, it always seemed like fun, and I wished that there were such Olympus outings in Oregon.
When researching the caption for a photo in my last article, I popped over to the Pro Photo Supply Web site, which I had not visited for quite a long time. I was SO astonished when I saw an ad for an official Olympus outing in Portland taking place in only two days! What timing! With this opportunity for my desire to be fulfilled, I for sure was not going to miss this event! I usually plan my photo outings weeks ahead of time, so registering only two days ahead of the event was very spur-of-the-moment for me. But it did me some good to be spontanious, even if it doesn’t seem very spontaneous to you!
Due to Portland’s increasing road congestion, it took a full two hours to make the 79-mile, normally-80-minute drive to the Gateway Transit Center. From there I took a MAX train to the Rose Quarter Transit Center, and then Bus Line 4 north to the outing starting point at the intersection of North Mississippi Avenue and Beech Street. Total travel time: three hours! Obviously some of that was due to my infatuation with public transportation.
I also have an obsession with arriving everywhere early. Therefore, it was a happy coincidence that right across the street from the meeting point I was able to spend my extra 45 minutes enjoying a beer at StormBreaker Brewing, which I had visited for the first time back in March during my North Mississippi Avenue mini pub crawl. Shortly before 6:30, I crossed the street to join the small group that was coalescing.
In addition to the two Olympus employees who were leading the photo walk there were a dozen or so attendees. In the picture to the right, taken by one of the two participating Pro Photo Supply employees who were organizing the event, there I am, back and center! To the right of me (my left) is the outing leader, Ray Acevedo, giving the group some advice and instructions.
Ray and the other Olympus employee, Steve Ball, both had Olympus camera equipment which they were lending out for the walk. Even though I am very happy with my current camera equipment, it seemed kind of a pity not to take advantage of this opportunity. So from Steve I borrowed an Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens. All of my pictures on this outing were taken with this lens, except for the pub shots before and after the event, which were taken with my usual Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8.
Over the next two hours, we moseyed four blocks (one-third of a mile) north on Mississippi, taking pictures from the east side of the street, and then headed back south along the same four blocks, but this time on the west side of the street.
At first it was hard to get into the photography mood. I felt kind of pressured by the situation, like “you have to take pictures now,” whether I felt inspired and creative or not. But on the other hand, sometimes that can be a good challenge, to push me beyond my boundaries. As always, I felt uncomfortable around strangers, so that didn’t help the artistic flow.
Still, I did manage to take 63 pictures during the two-hour event, and some of them even turned out pretty good. At the end, the ladies from Pro Photo Supply told us to put our best shot on Instagram. Within a week they would pick the one they thought was the best and the winner would get a Pro Photo Supply $25 gift card. Because all of the attendees were my age (mid 50s) and older, most of us were grumbling that we did not use Instagram.
I had tried Instagram a couple of years ago and found that it didn’t suit my needs at all, and I hadn’t used it since. But once again, I thought it would be a pity to pass by this opportunity, even though I don’t generally enter photo contests anymore. So I dusted off my account, picked eight of the best photos, and fought through the convoluted process of getting them into Instagram. It was such a frustrating experience that I ended up writing an article about it: Why I Dislike Instagram.
As I was wandering along the sidewalk, the scene to the right caught my eye: a metal crate on the back of a blue bicycle. The lighting from the setting sun added a nice touch. Lo and behold, this photo won first place, which included the $25 gift card from Pro Photo Supply. You can read the original announcement in this Pro Photo Supply Instagram post.
I have to point out that hardly any of the other dozen or so Mississippi outing participants bothered to enter this contest by posting their photos on Instagram. In a very real sense, therefore, I won by default. Nevertheless, I still think I took a good picture, and I still won the $25 gift card!
I seem to remember, when reading about Robin Wong’s Olympus outings, that the group would sometimes go to a restaurant after the event, have some good food and drink, hang out together, look at each other’s photos taken during the outing, and talk about photography. At the end I was waiting to see if someone would suggest this, but no one did. Being stranger-phobic, I didn’t make the suggestion myself. Oh well!
Leaving the group, I walked the four blocks north to Skidmore street, where earlier we had turned around to come back to the starting point. I went to Prost! German pub, which I had also visited once before on the Mississippi Avenue mini pub crawl I mentioned above. Some German beer and German food really hit the spot!
It was dark when I left Prost!, so I was glad that the bus stop was just across the street. The bus and MAX train rides brought me to my truck at 10:00, and after an 81-mile drive south, I finally arrived home about 11:15.
Even though it was a bit forced, I’m glad that I went on this outing. It was a good challenge and it stretched me photographically. Furthermore, I think it is good for me to connect a bit in Portland rather than going solo all the time. I have to expand my horizons and get out of my rut every once in a while!
Regarding the Olympus 12-40mm lens I had borrowed ... it is a nice lens, but as I wrote a few years ago when it first came out, “ because I already own the Panasonic 12-35mm lens, and because that lens is smaller and lighter than the Olympus offering, and because the image quality between the two lenses is similar, I can’t think of any reason why I would want to switch, which is fine by me. I’m ready to just keep and enjoy what I’ve already got.”
Out of the total of 70 pictures I took on this outing (including the pubs), I found 32 of them worthy of presentation in the new Portland Mississippi with Olympus 2016 album.
For more photos from this popular street, be sure to check out my Portland Vancouver / Mississippi 2016 album as well as the accompanying North Portland’s Vancouver, Albina and Mississippi Avenues article.