On Friday evening I finally got the chance to meet up with the Night Owls Flickr group for a sunset and blue hour walk around the Portland waterfront. I most enjoy shooting alone to get the shots that have pre-visualized and I want most. But meeting with others, seeing new places, and talking the hobby and craft always makes for an enjoyable time.
I decided to give myself a little creative exercise and mainly use my 70-200mm lens, which I have not used for a cityscape previously but for one specific photo. I really like the compression and isolation that the 70-200mm lens gives, especially when the focal length is closer to the long end. And, Canon's cheaper 70-200mm f/4 L lens that I own is razor sharp. We started our walk on the north sidewalk of the Steel Bridge, which is a little difficult to get to. There were pretty pink clouds just where the sun had set minutes earlier. However, a long and heavy train rumbled on the bottom deck of the bridge for several minutes, making any sharp shots impossible to capture. Fortunately for our group of six, the train passed before the color in the sky was gone. It was at this point that I stumbled upon the first shot of the evening that I liked. It was inadvertently taken as I was shooting the now "Portland, Oregon" sign (used to be the "Made in Oregon" sign). I quickly decided to take a long exposure of the MAX train as it passed in front of me. The result, as you can see below, is the "Portland, Oregon" sign seen through the MAX, as none of the rest of the early dusk light shone through the interior lights of the train. There is no Photoshop work done in this shot, just a little touching up in Lightroom.
The second shot is a simple isolation of Big Pink (the US Bancorp tower) and its' surroundings during blue hour. I really can't get enough of my 70-200mm lens. I fell back in love with it at the Tulip Festival this spring. I really like just how sharp it is, as this shot shows.
Below is a shot where I really pushed the limits in post processing. We shot from the floating walk and the waves were bouncing us around enough that I knew sharp results weren't going to be achieved. So with the incoming clouds to accentuate, I shot as wide as possible to try to mitigate the softness from the waves. The results really aren't suitable to be printed, but this shot just makes the cut to be shown here.
Since I attended Art Wolfe's class on composition earlier this spring when it stopped through Portland, I've been inspired and have been keeping an eye out for more artistic and simple compositions. I like what the patterns and the texture of the rivet heads on the Steel Bridge showed here. While my friends and family laugh at my inflexibility, I'm trying to see compositions more flexibly and photograph more original compositions, rather than copying or stealing other's shots. It's easy to aspire to, but not so easy to do.