Walk on Alberta

A Local Travelogue

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Walk on Alberta is a local travelogue

Twigs, Lines and Spikes

The Portland grey has come home to roost and the temperatures are flapping around cold enough to wish for snow to lighten up the freezing December drizzle. I was happy to discover that both my camera, and my favorite 35mm lens are weather-sealed so they can take a little wet without resorting to protective plastic wrap. On these cold slatish days, the shape-shifting on Alberta Street is so novel that I’m not noticing my cold nose and finger tips until I stomp back inside after a photo-walk.

During this seasonally high-contrast time, my instinct is to start playing with black and white processing, but then I see small vibrant color blasts against the grey and I think maybe not. I also don’t really have a good handle on what makes a black and white photo beautiful. I’ve been snapping photos since I was eight or so with various film and then digital cameras, I never learned how to develop film in a darkroom and I feel a tiny bit less-serious because I’ve never turned film into prints with chemicals in the dark. I’m working on abandoning my need to do everything “right” with regards to my photographic habit, because it’s daunting to think that I need to learn everything that every working fine art photographer learned in art school and 20 years of street photography experience to make beautiful images.

I started to love color when I left Michigan. Or rather, I started to notice eco-color once I was out of my home-environment. School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and time spent in New Orleans introduced me to an entirely different eco-color palette – coppery-orange, reds and fiery pinks in the South West, and the cobalt, corals, and lime-greens of the Deep South. When you start really traveling you realize the world is filled with colors in combinations you’ve never seen before shimmering in impossible ways.

This photo was first processed in black and white.

Twigs and Spikes B&W

The spikes, spirals and lines are so different than the summer time wisteria that is supported by those twigs, that it seemed like black and white was a perfect option. Then I took a look at the color version, and the deep royal hues seeping through those spikes, spirals and lines, and loved that version more.

Twigs and Spikes




The Old Garage on the Corner

When we moved into our house the garage on the corner, Vian’s, came in handy pretty often. I had an old Isuzu Trooper (that I loved) and being push distance from a mechanic was very convenient. Although, Andy’s old BMW was pushed down there more often than the Trooper. We consolidated into one newer vehicle, and the garage on the corner morphed into a shop run by another family. They painted the building tropical blues and greens, and planted flowers in the cement box. For a bit there was a coffee truck, and then a taco truck with carefully placed tables and chairs. There were piles of tires for sale, and one day everything was gone and the parking lot was under excavation. They removed some old fuel storage tanks, and then a large fence went up around the building. Then people moved in and started making picnic tables. They moved some of the tables outside, and someone painted the kind- of-horrible mural on the building.

I’ve been photographing that corner a lot over the years, and finally made a picture that is a little bit beautiful. We still don’t know what the hell is going on in that garage. Over the last few days there was someone painting a boat inside. There is a nice new air-conditioning unit waiting to be installed. The picnic tables are all chained together and people waiting for the 17 bus occasionally make use of them. Some are under a carport so drier than standing at the bus stop in the rain.

I made this photo for part of the “Transformation” assignment for my Understanding Light class.

The Nature of Seeing

One thing I struggle with as a new photographer is finding the words to describe what I’m trying to convey with a project. While watching Paul Graham speak about the exhibition, “The Whiteness of the Whale,” I found myself making exclamatory notes with a few “That’s it!” Graham talks about the nature of seeing in terms of time, light and focus, and how photography can …”mimic a state of mind.” There are many more gems in this interview, and much resonated with me in my attempt at seeing my neighborhood, the Alberta Arts District in Portland, Oregon.

Paul Graham Artist Video from Pier 24 Photography on Vimeo.

After the Rain

This has been a brutal summer for Portland. So many days with temperatures in the 90s. All the grass turned brown early, and our gardens became crinkly. Walking down NE Alberta Street, the lack of older trees adds to the pulsating street heat. But not this morning. This morning the puddles are back and the petrichor is a welcome gift.

This photograph was made for a shadow assignment – I’m taking an Understanding Light class at New Space Center for Photography. I’ve also been trying to make a good picture of that beautiful blue wall for many months. The light has not been right until this morning.

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