Broken Banjo Photography

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ellyn On the Willamette: Portland, Oregon

This is Ellyn.  We have known each other since we were young teenagers, tromping around in Manzanita, Oregon. We got in trouble together a few times, but that's what friends do when growing up in small towns.  Or anywhere, I suppose.

There is a place where the mighty Columbia River and the Willamette River collide.  It is a simple park in Portland.  There is a beach there (if you examine the sand you will find it to be equal parts powdered remains of rocks, industry, cement, shipyards, and history).  From that beach you can watch container ships haul goods out towards the ocean, full of wheat and coal.

Shot with only natural light while the sun was low in the evening, this shot encapsulates much of how I feel about my friendship with Ellyn.  Colorful and dynamic, but peaceful and contemplative at the same time.  Shot with a Pentax K-5 at 18mm, with vibrance and clarity pumped up a bit in post.
Ellyn and I both live in Portland now.  Throughout my adult life I have lived in countless places, often moving after just six or nine months in a town.  She has traveled and has lived in such wayward places as Tennessee, but has called a single apartment in Portland her home for 7 years.  I find that impressive.

I hold on tightly to my old friends, those who have known me or seen me through all of the iterations of my life.  Sometimes a decade passes by, but as long as one person is willing to track down another, there are always opportunities to maintain relationships with the folks who have shared time with you.

The north-flowing Willamette brings the essence of the Oregon valleys, of Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, and points in between, of wine country, dairies, and cities.  The Columbia is a viaduct for salmon, and has come through many dams.  It sheds its energy along its path, powering the Northwest through Bonneville and the Grand Coulee Dam ("the mightiest thing ever built by a man", sang Woody Guthrie).  It has passed through the Northwest's desert for thousands of years, and has left a jagged, steep mark in the form of the Columbia River Gorge.

Ellyn took me there to catch up, while she did some scouting for a location to hold a small family reunion.  Catching the late light in late summer, we stepped over families with cheap radios and steered around packs of friendly dogs.  The sun gave us golden light as it lowered and we stepped barefoot through the splashing edge of two rivers that have seen the Northwest through its grand history.
Also shot in natural, golden light.  No matter what else is obscured, a (totally breakable) rule of portraiture remains that the subject's eye(s) should be clear, well-lit, and the sharpest part of the image.

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