Date Night on Portland’s Broadway
Wednesday 21 December 2016 — Category: Outings
During 26 years of marriage, my wife, Catherine, and I have rarely gone out on a date night. However, we recently decided to fix this problem. And even though I am positively passionate about Portland, I have attended evening events in the big city just a couple of times, and never with my wife. So for the first time we went to Portland together for an evening out.
Photo courtesy of Camera Ergonomics.
I prefer not to drive or park downtown, so I usually park at a TriMet Transit Center on the edge of the metro area and then take a MAX train, or occasionally a bus, into the city. For this outing we drove 85 miles from Albany to park at the Gateway Transit Center, near the intersection of I-205 and I-84. Hollywood Transit Center, in the east Portland district of Hollywood. Next, we caught a westbound Line 77 bus which took us down NE Broadway about a mile and a half to the McMenamins Broadway Pub for a light dinner.
As part of the rewards of my McMenamins Passport adventure, I had earned a free appetizer of my choice from one of their five North / Northeast Portland locations. I choose to redeem my reward at the Broadway Pub because it was the only location out of the five that offered a steak dish as an appetizer.
Above is a picture I took of their $15 Black & Blue Steak Bites: Black Rabbit Red steak bites, blue cheese fondue and fresh-cut fries. In addition to this shared dish, we each had a green salad. To wash it all down, I ordered a pint of McMenamins Redshirt Session Ale. According to the brewer:
“Like the wearers of it’s namesake, this beer goes down quick! As an away team of bready, toasty malts beam down to your palate, mild floral hops maintain the balance of power from high orbit.” Measurements: 4.3% ABV • 30 IBU
My notes from that evening read: “I really like it; it’s similar to my favorite Lompoc Proletariat Red, but not as hoppy. Too bad they don’t sell it in bottles (or cans). I would definitely get it again!”
I didn’t realize it at the time, but once I started researching the caption for the photo, I was excited to discover that the name of this beer and its description are in honor of Star Trek, of which I am a huge fan! Line 8 bus heading west. After a 15-minute ride we were downtown on SW 5th Avenue. A short two-block walk on Main Street brought us to our destination for the evening: the Newmark Theatre in the Antoinette Hatfield Hall complex, on SW Broadway at Main Street.
Performing that evening were Alex De Grassi, William Ackerman, Barbara Higbie, Todd Boston and Ellen Sanders, on a seven-stop, West Coast Windham Hill Winter Solstice 30th anniversary concert tour.
The concert started at 7:30, and finished at 10:00. I have written an extensive review of the concert on my Brian’s Bits Web site, so I won’t repeat myself here. Of course, being an avid photographer, I brought a camera along. I will discuss the photographic aspects of the concert in just a moment.
After the concert we walked up 5th Avenue to Pioneer Courthouse Square to see the annual 75-foot Christmas tree. I had seen the tree last year, but that had been during the day. It was nicer to see it at night, and much nicer to see it with my wife!
Across from Pioneer Courthouse Square we caught a MAX Green Line train for a half-hour ride back to the Gateway Transit Center. An eighty-minute drive brought us home about 12:20. Dinner on NE Broadway ... a concert on SW Broadway. Our first date night in Portland was great fun and a great success! my full Micro Four Thirds camera kit with me to the concert, as I did not want to look like a professional photographer. Therefore I brought my Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50 pocket camera so I could remain discreet and unobtrusive.
The camera’s small sensor and 30x zoom enabled me to get close to the action. But the trade-off was image quality. Cameras with small sensors produce a lot of image noise in low light, and it was fairly dark on the stage. Nevertheless, there are situations, like this concert, when a pocket camera is the right tool for the job.
There were a number of settings I had to change in order to have the best experience taking pictures. In the Setup menu: set the Beep Level and Shutter Volume to off; set the Eye Sensor LVF/Monitor Switch to LVF (I usually keep it on AUTO); and turn the Lens Resume Zoom Resume ON.
In the Rec menu: set the Sensitivity to ISO 3200 (the AUTO and i.ISO settings resulted in shutter speeds that were too slow. I could also perhaps have set the ISO Limit to 3200 and set the Sensitivity to AUTO, but I did not test that combination); and set the AF Assist Lamp to OFF. On the back Control Dial, I set the flash to OFF.
By using the view finder instead of the screen, turning off the flash, and turning off the AF Assist Lamp (the red light on the front of the camera), I almost completely eliminated the light pollution created by the camera. By turning off the beep and shutter volumes, I eliminated all of the sound pollution created by the camera. Now that’s truly discreet and unobtrusive!
As with the photos from a Phil Keaggy concert almost exactly two years ago, because of the various colors of the stage lighting, I preferred processing the pictures as black and white instead of leaving them in color.
Still, there were some quality issues. Even at ISO 3200, the shutter speed was often not fast enough to freeze the movements of the musicians. This problem, combined with a generous application of image noise reduction, caused most of the photos to be somewhat blurry and/or out of focus.
Nevertheless, I’m pretty happy with how the concert pictures turned out, given the significant limitations of a pocket camera. In the end, photos with somewhat-reduced quality are much better than no photos at all. I think I made the right equipment choice, and I am content with that decision.
I took a total of 72 pictures at the Antoinette Hatfield Hall venue. The best 21, including 12 during the concert, can be found in the new Windham Hill Winter Solstice 2016 album.
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