February 10, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

                                                       TILIKUM  CROSSING PYLON : FINAL VERSION

This week the weather finally became somewhat conducive to actually venturing outside and pursuing my photography. I ventured across the newest bridge in "Bridgetown", the footbridge/bicycle/bus/trolley/Max bridge named Tilikum Crossing to honor the Chinook tribes native to our region. The "Bridge of the People" is a spectacular cable-stayed bridge, the latest and greatest type of suspension bridge very suitable for relatively short spans like the one required by the Willamette. This bridge is really the Division Street bridge that Division Street never received mainly because there was never enough city on the West Side in Downtown to deserve a bridge. With the creation of the South Waterfront neighborhood, the Portland Aerial Tram going up to Pill Hill, and the general redevelopment of the river edge south of Downtown, there became a justification for a river crossing near Division Street. In a more mature society than ours of course there would have been at least a token allowance for automobiles, which share lanes in most parts of the city with Mass transit, but there is no doubt that the pedestrian experience is paramount on this bridge.

                                                       TILIKUM  CROSSING PYLON : FINAL B&W VERSION

I am a particular type of photographer, one who finds motivation problematic once I have captured an image of a particular subject that has more than satisfied me.  There is no doubt that my chosen subject matter, the city and its architecture, can be greatly affected by the weather and the light, so that continued investigation might be warranted. But what do you do when you have already created an image where you know that that subject will "never look better" than the image that you have already created. Some people like musicians will and must practice for a lifetime, but my personality would chafe under that regimen. I took Kung Fu classes for nearly twenty years, and actually became pretty good at it, especially considering my age and lack of natural athletic ability. I excelled at the spontaneity of sparring, but positively rebelled at the daily practice of forms, which seemed to me to only exist so that your teacher could always find fault even after you earned a black belt. Thus I have to usually gird myself for yet another try at a subject that is very familiar to me, unlike other photographers who seemingly could photograph the Golden Gate every day of their lives and never tire of it.

                                                       TILIKUM CROSSING # 4 : FINAL VERSION

As I often say, attitudes like mine require a delight in the process of taking photographs, rather than the results of those efforts. The expected success rate, despite low expectations borne from years of experience, is only confounded by the fact that you have already been successful, thank you very much. And while I understand that I might have not captured a particular "money shot" of a subject that I know that exists, the fact that I have seen it again and again in other people's work lessens the need to have one of my own.

Now all this goes against my other belief that you do your best work as a local, so much so that a traveling photographer has almost no chance, no matter their skill, of capturing an image that might have taken a local years to take. You might get one chance to walk across the bridge, and I could probably walk across it most days for the rest of my life. As I have matured I have begun to realize, after careful prodding by Fran, that one doesn't go to Paris to make photographs, but you have fun taking photographs while you are experiencing Paris. Or at least until someone actually pays you to go to Paris to take photographs.

                                                        TILIKUM CROSSING : A SUBTLE SILHOUETTE

So I took yet another walk across the bridge yesterday to get some exercise and see my friend Al - these images were just a happy result. One of the reasons that I write these essays is to give me an excuse to exhibit additional takes on a subject that I know have almost no chance of making it into my gallery under the Burnside Bridge, because I've already got a great image of the Tilikum Crossing there, that either sells or doesn't sell to the public.

                                                        A BRIGHTER VERSION REVEALS MORE CONCRETE VARIATION

With all of these caveats, I had a great time, and came away with several nice images. The first image actually was a departure for me, since I have never concentrated on just one of the four pillars that support the bridge. It is now a sculpture devoid of context, whose almost anal symmetry doesn't mitigate its exploration of light and shadow. I'm not sure on the color versus the black and white version

The second image is far more conventional, but I think is fairly successful as a straight image of the pair of pylons at one end of the bridge, against a pretty nice partly cloudy Portland sky.

                                                        HIGH-KEY BLACK AND WHITE

The third and fourth images are much more dramatic interpretations of the pair of pylons, in tight close-ups that try but fail to straighten the pylons up, despite the efforts of my software. When you are this close it is much harder to do this with software, which is why there is till a place for shifting lenses which I cannot really afford to even rent. On the other hand, they are much better than the originals, with at least one of the pair seemingly not falling down. What I find fascinating is how the pretty subtle differences in exposure completely transform what is pretty much the same viewpoint. I think your affinity for silhouettes will determine which is more to your taste. I'm not sure, but I do like the more uniform pylons in the darker version. The high-key black and white version shows how powerful the rare blue sky in Portland can actually introduce the idea of "color contrast" - I don' think the black and white cuts it in this particular case.



This last pair of images are both a work in progress, which might argue for another walk across the bridge. I was intrigued by the shadow of the bridge as a way of exploring its beauty. While this was a case of being there at "the right time", it will undoubtedly happen again. I am not satisfied by the contrast I achieved, even in the black and white version, and know I could probably improve on this idea someday. Of course you might not agree in the idea at all - right now I actually like the color version better, which is rare for me.

So there you have it. Take a walk with a friend, especially one who might be taking photographs too. You might actually create something new, and if it provides an excuse for getting out and about then it is worth it no matter what images you might come away with.