St. Johns Bridge is Portland’s Eiffel Tower. Everyone and their mother takes photos of this thing, and for good reason. It’s the tallest and arguably most beautiful bridge in town. There’s also Cathedral Park, which is the city park that sits underneath the bridge itself. The Gothic arches supporting the bridge create a cathedral-like feeling while still being outside. Cathedral Park is a prime spot for weddings, engagement sessions, and other photo-worthy moments.
I personally hadn’t visited the place in years, but I’ve seen a million cool photos of St. Johns Bridge just about everywhere I look in Portland. The bridge is super compelling, but I’d say it’s hard to take a unique photo at this point. However, when I visited Cathedral Park this October, the first thing I did was get my camera out. I had to. “I don’t care if it’s been photographed to death, I’m taking my own picture!”
Film Camera + Autumn = Nostalgia
I’ve been shooting a lot of personal work over the last few months with my newly-acquired Olympus XA camera. It’s a pocket-sized film camera from the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. It looks like if an Atari and a camera had a baby. This is a great camera to capture nostalgia, because the camera is nostalgia in the palm of your hand. Ya, I know. I took a marketing class or two. I can write a tagline. Here, let me add some emphasis:
The Olympus XA Camera: It’s nostalgia in the palm of your hand.
The combination of an iconic bridge, a beautiful autumn day, and a quirky camera made for some fun pics:
I can hear Boards of Canada when I look at the picture above. Also, I had to tilt the camera to get the bridge in the frame. It’s 408 feet tall! Next, here’s the underside of the bridge:
I debated whether to remove the lens flare on the bottom left of the photo. It’s an easy fix in Photoshop, but for some reason I’m less worried about the flaws when I shoot film over digital. Why is that? Here’s another view of one of the towers:
Double Exposure of St. Johns Bridge
I’m a big fan of taking double exposures with a film camera. It’s so high school photography class, but I don’t care. I know it’s pretty simple to do a double exposure in Photoshop, but it’s not the same. There‘s something about planning out how it’s going to look in your head before you take both photos. And it never turns out exactly how you imagine it. Well, at least not for me. I feel like double exposures are a unique way to question the concept of time. Is this bridge I’m looking at happening here and here at the same time? Is it possible?
I feel like if there’s one photo that’s a bit unique in this group, it’s this one. It’s a photo that most people won’t walk away with after a visit to Cathedral Park. It’s messy and chaotic, but it also makes sense to me.
I’ve been compiling a fair amount of double exposures at this point, but I’d like to keep shooting more before doing an entire post on them. But hopefully it will be coming in the future!
Don’t Forget the Leaves
Sure, St. Johns Bridge is spectacular, but the leaves were also pretty amazing the day I visited too. It always helps to have a perfect autumn blue sky in the background to balance out the warm tones of the changing leaves. Here’s a few photos of the trees in Cathedral Park:
It’s brightest before winter, just like it’s darkest before dawn. The leaves that day were on fire. Fall leaves are another subject everyone loves to photograph. You just have to break out your camera.
I know the last picture is kind of boring. But just look at the actual subject matter for a second…Look at the colors and the shadows. Autumn is pretty amazing when you think about it.
It’s been fun taking my little Olympus XA nostalgia-maker around town over the last few months and photographing scenes like these. Cathedral Park is a place I have not visited in many years. I think it’s easy to take your local Eiffel Towers for granted when you are born and raised there. It’s much easier to be inspired when you travel. But travel can happen in your home town too. There’s a lot for me to be thankful for when I open my eyes.