Tag Archives: portland

The ReBuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

The Rebuilding Center

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer at The ReBuilding Center in North Portland.  I spent about 4 hours at the center–one hour learning about what they do, and 3 hours sorting reclaimed moulding (different sizes, painted/unpainted, newly delivered, etc).  It was a simple volunteer experience, for a great cause:

“The ReBuilding Center, a project of Our United Villages, is a vibrant resource working to strengthen the environmental, economic, and social fabric of local communities. Founded by volunteers in 1998, The ReBuilding Center carries the region’s largest volume of used building and remodeling materials. It provides resources that make home repairs affordable to everyone, with the goal of promoting the reuse of salvaged and reclaimed materials. Three hundred visitors come to The ReBuilding Center every day to browse the ever-changing inventory that includes sinks, tubs, tile, lumber, doors, windows, trim and much more.”

With so many types of materials available in large open spaces, I thought it would be great to document their location through photography.  While I found the shots I wanted, I also found the spirit of commitment, responsibility, and excitement in the people who work there and contribute to building a better community in Portland.  Please visit their website as well as their North Portland location, and contribute to the causes that affect our community in positive ways.

Hours:  Mon – Sat 9 – 6;  Sun 10 – 5
Phone:  503-331-1877
3625 N. Mississippi Ave.

Check out the rest of the photos here.

The Fourth of July

2008.07.04 - Fourth of July

2008.07.04 - Fourth of July

With my tripod out on loan, I went outside with my monopod and a fast f1.4 lens on the fourth of July to explore the street fireworks in my neighborhood.  I was also equipped with high hopes, but those were quickly dashed by a few test shots that had me steadying my monopod for around 10 seconds to get an exposure.  Needless to say, it didn’t work.  All was not lost though–at least I know better for next year.

Last year, I went outside and took a few shots of the Vancouver fireworks as well as some neighbors down the street.  I cursed my location.  I cursed the cables in the sky.  I cursed my shadow–twice.  But I pressed on, and I’m really happy with the results.  Now, I won’t be winning any awards for these–or selling any prints for that matter–but the photos are special to me.  Attempts to beautify the photos or set up the perfect composition failed, but it did so elegantly.

Capturing perfect fireworks was not my intention (nor was it even a possibility shooting from my front yard).  I didn’t really have any intentions.  What I ended up with is a capture of my neighborhood during a distinct event–a good sense of personal time and place.

But why black and white, especially for fireworks?  Well, I wanted to make sure that the fireworks weren’t too overpowering in the shot.  I wasn’t in a good enough spot to make the fireworks the focus of the shot.  The black and white conversion decentralized the focus and makes the eye wander, searching the photograph.  Trying to push the viewer in this direction, allows for more exploration of the photograph, and inevitably more questions about my intentions.

It’s often important to have a clear theme and intention, and the viewer can appreciate and concentrate on the details of your work.  With more personal photos such as these, it was more important to capture a moment in time.  Forcing viewers to ask questions like “Why was this shot in black and white?” will hopefully allow them to consider my intentions and get closer to the truth of the photo.  And the truth is different for every viewer, every interpretation.  So the longer you can hold someone’s attention, the closer they’ll get to their own truth.

Or, that’s just a long-winded, made-up, pompous, way to describe an arbitrary set of photos.  I guess it just comes down to the simple fact that I like the photos.  Sometimes the simplest, least “artistic” shots are my favorites.

Baltic / Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

2009.06.13 -- Baltic and Imperial Porter Tasting at Upright Brewing

I was asked to attend and photograph a Baltic / Imperial Porter tasting tonight at Upright Brewing.  I don’t mind mixing work with pleasure, especially when it comes to beer, but the physical aspects of holding a glass and shooting photos can be tricky at best.  Couple this with the fact that we are gathering in the basement of a building with uneven lighting and there can be some issues.

I used my 50mm 1.4 for most of the night because of the low light where the taps (and hence, most of the people) were gathered.  I also used my 10-22mm around the brewing equipment where there was much more light available.

It took about two hours to go through the photos tonight with selection and remastering.  Make sure to click on the photos to see the larger versions as the tones and brightness are compressed in the thumbnails to the right.  Great night, awesome beers, and now it’s late and I want to go to sleep.

Goodbye Portland LumberJax!

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.01.23 - LumberJax v. Edmonton Rush

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

Well, it’s been kind of slow around here lately, though I’ve been extremely busy.  I’m pretty sure that those two concepts are related.  Ideally, I’d like to post whether I’m busy or not, but blogging usually takes a back seat to my other projects.  Unfortunately, this is a post about bad news–at least for Portland lacrosse fans like me.  The demise of the Portland LumberJax has been confirmed.  Owner Angela Batinovich stated that she was looking into moving the Jax to a new venue, but that looks pretty unlikely at this point.

Despite growing number of fans, the economy has played a devastating role in declining sponsorship. Add this to the huge costs of operating at the Rose Garden, and you can see a bleak financial outlook for owners and investors. With a huge National Lacrosse League franchise fee and other startup costs, the big hit was supposed to come at the beginning of the 2006 season, when the LumberJax started here in Portland. After that, the following years of ticket sales and sponsorships are supposed to make up for that loss and then in later seasons, start actually seeing a profit. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for the LumberJax.

There are thousands of fans who are just as disappointed as I am, wondering where they’re going to get their LAX fix. I spent the first two seasons in the stands with the rest of the crowd, but then decided to take a leap and talk with the team about becoming a photographer. Everything worked out, and I became a photographer for the NLL, shooting LumberJax home games at the Rose Garden. During that season, I managed to get several online publications and a couple of billboards around Portland. During the 2009 season, I became a freelance photographer for NLLInsider.com and Inside Lacrosse magazine, as well as other local and national sports outlets.

Without the LumberJax, I wouldn’t have been able to start my photography career at the professional level. It was a great opportunity for me, and I made the best use of the two seasons that I photographed at the Rose Garden. I wish I was going back to photograph next season, but maybe this was just a gateway sport for me.

Portland LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth Playoffs

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.05.01 LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

Tonight’s game was the last game of the year for the Portland LumberJax. A loss to the San Jose Stealth in the playoffs ended their Season. It was great to have a playoff game at home, but it wasn’t the ending that the fans had hoped for.

I left at halftime tonight. Since this playoff game was scheduled in the last two weeks, I had to squeeze it into my busy weekend. Normally, on game nights, I’m up until about 3:00am, spending hours on post-production and getting the photos off to my publishers. Tomorrow, I have to be up at out of the house by 7:00am and being up until 3:00am tonight could be quite a hassle. So, I left early in hopes of finishing up by midnight.

Portland LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

2009.04.17 - LumberJax v. Calgary Roughnecks

While this game didn’t really mean much to either team in the bigger picture of the season, it was still pretty hard to see the Jax down 8-2 at halftime.  It’s still a great sport to watch and photograph no matter what the score, but a deficit like that at home takes a bit of the life out of the Rose Garden.

I had to toss an abnormally large amount of photos out tonight while going through post-processing.  They just weren’t usable.  The glass seems to get exponentially worse each game, more scratched, more scuffed, and more hazy.  Because of this, shooting at any angle along the glass can trash a photo easily.  That limit can’t stop you from crossing your fingers and shooting, but the percentage of usable shots drops dramatically.

This was the last game of the season, but the LumberJax made the playoffs, so they’ve added a home playoff game on May 1st.  It should be a great game against the Stealth, very physical and emotional–a great way to end the home season!

Portland LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

2009.03.29 - LumberJax v. San Jose Stealth

Tonights game was more of the same from a photographer’s perspective:  Shoot warm ups, read through stat sheets, shoot game, go home and process.  It was an unusual 3pm Sunday game so getting everything done early and not working until 2:00 in the morning was refreshing.

The LumberJax lost tonight, and luckily, that was the worst thing that happened.  During warmups, a lacrosse ball nailed the wall right next to my head–and more importantly, right next to my camera.  I was less than two inches from losing $2500 worth of camera gear.  Luke Forget and Bruce Alexander stopped dead in their tracks and were amazed that I didn’t get smashed.

I could stay off of the floor during warm-ups, but getting close to the players and not having to shoot through the glass is too good to pass up.  I bet I wouldn’t feel the same way if my camera body and Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens were destroyed.

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

Firkin Fest 2009

It’s not all coincidence that I’m able to mix beer and photography.  It takes careful planning: 1) Find an event, 2) See if someone needs photos for the event, 3) If you can budget in time to photograph and attend the event, even better!  It doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does, it’s great for both you and the client.

Well, the upside for me is pretty self-explanatory: free event.  The upside for the client is that the more I’m involved in the event, the better I can understand what it’s all about–and then translate that into photography.  The perspective of an attendee and photographer can tell two different stories.  It is the job of the photographer to not only capture the spirit of the festival through the eyes of the attendees, but also capture unique angles, subjects, and action that require much more than a casual eye.

For this year’s Firkin Fest, I took photos for the Oregon Brewer’s Guild.  The festival was split into two three hour sessions.  I attended the first session as a photographer and the second as a patron.  But, as a photographer, even when I’m not on duty, I usually carry around my equipment.  So, it’s usually safe to say that whatever label I’m under at any given moment (patron, attendee, employee, student, staff), you can always append /photographer to the end.  Today, the energy was very different at the second session and about half of the final photos ended up coming from the then, when I was supposed to be off the clock.

Portland Breweries

Portland Breweries

Portland Breweries

Portland Breweries

In the middle of 2008, I started a project to shoot all of the breweries in Portland.  Photography and beer, how could it get any better?  Well, despite some hot temperatures, slippery floors, and sticky mash, it was a great experience.

I got to meet all of the brewers in town, talk about their brewing styles, and compare brewing equipment.  While the process is the same, the breweries are vastly different, ranging from 3 barrel systems to 500 barrel systems.  There’s a also a big difference in the physical interaction with the beer: some are very automated, while many others still require the art of the mash paddle.

I don’t want to spoil too much here, as I have a plan for a book in the works that will fill in all of the details.  What I can say is that Portland has a great brewing community and fantastic beers.  From Lagers to Russian Imperial Stouts, fresh beer to barrel aged beer, every beer lover can find exceptional beer around every corner in Portland.

March PDX Snow

2009.03.09 -- PDX Snow

2009.03.09 -- PDX Snow

More snow in Portland today!  My photography appointment for the day canceled, so I spent some quality time with the dog–and the television.  I worked all weekend, so I deserved the day off.  From about 7:30am until 1:00pm, it snowed, rained, sleeted, and hailed.  It kept repeating those various precipitation, but in no particular order.

I guess I’m in the minority in Portland, but I love the snow and always welcome more.  Even Otto likes it.  Despite it’s lack of flavor, he loves to eat it.

And run in it.

And stare at it.