15 July 2009

The Horizon and The City: "Bluffing" Portland

2152.Another thing we did on a day simply pointing the car in whatever direction and taking whatever picture we felt was there are, as everyone knows, great places to get long-view skyline photos of Portland.

Visual Portland is a treat. If you could eat the view, it would taste like your favorite food and would never get you fat and never give you heart disease. And we have great viewpoints that we can take our leisure at. Here's a few we found, and if you want to view them embiggened, then click on the words "Posterous Link" that should appear beneath each photo. If you want to see my whole Posterous stream, it's at http://zehnkatzen.posterous.com.

One great place is the University of Portland. The very cheerful campus, located in north Portland, is located at the lip of a cliff called Waud's Bluff. It affords a commanding view of the working harbor of Portland, Swan Island, and the Swan Island lagoon:

If you move just a schoshe to the west, you have a handy-dandy, neato-mosquito ready-made visual frame made out of foliage:

In the first, you get a great view of the harbor and Swan Island. In the second, you get a layered effect; nature, Island, and bustling city in the distance.

I've got to say also at this point that the UP is a very welcoming host. Me and The Wife™ wandered onto campus with a camera and just started pointing and shooting, and as soon as Campus Security realized we were just takin' landscape snaps, they let us be. Thank you, UP security. You rock.

At the other end of town there's a bluff which I don't know the name of, which overlooks two very special Portland places. One is the wetland known as Oaks Bottom, which is an urban wildlife paradise, and the other is the Oaks Amusement Park, one of the last of that old-fashioned breed, 104 years old and just as popular as ever, with a legendary roller rink.

At the lip of the bluff overlooking the bottom, there's a shortish street called SE Sellwood Blvd. Narrow, pleasant, and lined with homes that are so very modest and charming you just know they cost more than $500,000 each, even in this economy.

Well, you do get quite a view for your coin, especially at sunset:

If you let the land dominate, rather than the sky, you get this view:

These two shots demonstrate a certain thing that I always had a feel about but didn't really realize solidly until I saw it. It's true in the University of Portland shots but it really jumps out to you in the Oak Bottom pair. The upper shot, containing just the sky and the skyline, is very warm, very dreamy – almost ephemeral. The new buildings in the Portland skyline almost make it a truly-futuristic thing. But when I let the land dominate, it changed the color balance entirely, making it very cool and less Brigadoon like.

On the UP photos, including the nature in the foreground softened up and gave the view a boundary. But with the Sellwood/Oaks Bottom photos, it goes between dream and reality.

Such is the magic of composition. No matter what camera you got, you can choose for effect.

And Portland makes a very cool model. I frigg'n love my hometown.

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