My love of photography started young, and like many of you, studying National Geographic issues for hours. My Dad sent me my first camera when I was 15.I remember riding my bike 13 miles to the Pahoa, Hawaii post office to get it.
That was 40 years ago and I recently reengaged with photography. Learning digital cameras and new techniques has been challenging.Youtube and all the creative learning websites provide an ocean of opportunity.But nothing beats face to face learning so I signed up for a May photographic workshop with Hudson Henry.It was a financial and social leap for me – I’m a poor introvert!
It was a great experience.Like camp for creative adults.I learned so much from Hudson and from the other 9 participants who all brought a different vision and skill set.We had folks from as far away as the Yukon in Canada and South Carolina.We became friends and learned and laughed together.We got up early and stayed up late to capture sunset and blue hour.
If you have been hesitant to take a leap like this, I strongly encourage you to take a chance. If you already have I would love to hear about it. Thank you for stopping by…
With no destination in mind – but with a firm desire to road trip – I left my last meeting on Friday with only the open road before me. I had to get home from Dash Point, Washington to Portland. This is a quarterly trip so I was used to the routine of getting on I-5 south. Part of me wanted to get home and be a responsible leaf-raking home owner.
For no reason that I can explain, just north of Centralia I veered off the freeway and headed to the coast. Ironically – the retreat I had been just attending was all about decision making. My head was full of ethical discernments. This was spontaneous – absolutely no discerning other than seeing a road sign saying “Aberdeen/Raymond” next exit.
Taking all the anticipation out of this road trip tale – I ended up in Astoria, Oregon for 2 days. Best decision I have made in quite some time – I must have learned something at that retreat.
Some of the highlights:
Early morning photo shooting in Astoria and exploring this wonderful and historic town – founded in 1811!
Wave watching at Cape Disappointment (not disappointing!!)
Buoy Beer for dinner
And finally, there is this little church about 2 miles west of the Astoria Megler bridge on the way to Ilwaco, Washington that I have passed a hundred times. It’s in the middle of nowhere but is beautiful in its simplicity and isolation. I have regretted never stopping and learning the story of this church by the sea. I stopped.
History fans (I am one!) should read Peter Stark’s Astoria – recently released in paperback – for a closer look at the early years of Astoria.
Astoria has transformed from river city with an economy and industry (most significantly fish canneries) reliant on the Columbia River – to an artistic corner of Oregon – focused on tourism and the two mainstays of Oregon – beer and coffee.
The Columbia River is still a strong force. Cargo ships provide entertainment as their huge hulks pass by the waterfront. And the nautical history is never far away – including the Flavel House Museum (George Flavel was the Columbia’s first river pilot back in 1850). But you are more likely to see Willapa Bay Oysters featured on area menu’s than Columbia River salmon.
What is the essence of a place? What makes your town, your state, your country unique to you and those who live or visit? This sense of place fascinates me and I find myself exploring this idea in the way I look at the world. You could say capturing place is my creative muse.
As I write this I sit in a Stumptown Coffee House in Portland, Oregon, USA, in the early morning hour before the work day. Perhaps this time and place is routine for some, but I cherish this moment to explore the sense of place right here.
At this hour it is delivery trucks, runners, and the early shift change at the hospital two blocks away. Overalls and scrubs, running tights and the occasional dog, all line up for their morning coffee. The baristas all have a story that speaks to this place – most hold two jobs – one that pays the bills, the other that feeds their passion.
Like many of us who love travel, I love the idea of exploring a new place and discovering and learning something new and exciting. But we don’t need to travel far or even travel at all to explore sense of place.
This is the first post of what I hope is a long exploration of sense of place – here in Portland – my home town, in the great state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest, the western United States and if I am lucky – farther afield.
I invite you to explore your home town with the same curiosity. I would love to hear what makes your town unique and what is the “sense of place” where you are right now.
Thank you for reading and for joining me on this journey.
If you can name the movie where that line was uttered – you win a really cool snarky mug. I love snarky.
So if you do know what movie that line came from – you will know it is one of the best movies ever made. In the 80’s. With an ensemble cast.
Ok enough clues. You have to figure out the rest.
If you know the movie – cultural bonus points for you – but if you know the artist and painting – that means you are a culturally literate person or possibly an art history major – OR you have been to Amsterdam and been to the Rijksmuseum and know that this painting is one of the most viewed paintings in western Europe.
Which got me to wondering – what are the most viewed paintings in the world – Mona Lisa most certainly tops the list… but after that – do you know? Who keeps track of this type of important info? There is always an answer on the internet – but before we go there… “Studio audience was asked what are the top 10 paintings viewed in the world…survey says…”
Here are my guesses (I took Sistine Chapel out of this list because it is officially a fresco – but my guess is it would be #2 after Mona Lisa):
Mona Lisa – Da Vinci
Starry Night – Van Gogh
Lilies – Monet
girl with the pearl earring – Vermeer
Nightwatch – Rembrandt
Picnic painting at the Chicago Art Museum (can’t recall artist at this moment)