Unabridged Bridge

Reaching out against the sky, spires that would make a cathedral jealous poke holes in the blue. Massive footings – shoes that would be big for Paul Bunyan or even Finn McCool fill house sized footprints on the riverbank. Gothic arches soar, leading the eye up and onward towards heaven, or at least the underdeck of the road.

And where is this architectural marvel?

Up in the north end of Portland, Oregon, a massive cathedral sits. While it can be a spiritual place to commune, it is not a conventional church. Its name is Cathedral Park, inspired by the architecture of the St. Johns bridge and the grandeur of the spaces it occupies.

Click on any photo for a larger, clearer view.

We came to the park to enjoy a lovely spring afternoon and the aura the bridge provides. I, of course, had an ulterior motive; I wanted to see what kind of effect I’d get off the water with my infrared camera. Wouldn’t you know it, the bridge just happens to cross the Willamette River…

The park resides on the east side of the river, filling 22 acres under the bridge footings and beyond.

We began by heading to the river. There’s something about water that has almost a gravitational pull for the soul. Is it evolution calling us back to our roots? Maybe not, mountains pull at me too.

Looking south, towards downtown, a pair of railroad bridges crosses the water.

(Note to visitors new to infrared photography: the colors are all fake, they are what I make them. The only visible light I pick up is oranges and reds and I usually spin them towards blue. Foliage reflects a lot of IR light, that’s why it appears white in the B/W shots and whatever color I feel like in the color shots – IR light doesn’t have a visible color. See earlier posts for more details.)

Looking north, I found Love.

If only, for all those years I was a bachelor, I knew it would be this easy. But this is Love at a distance, and what fun is that?

Heading up from the river we walk a riverside trail southbound. Just beyond the grounds of the park, we find a large flask outside a city Water Bureau building.

And looking out, beyond the grassy bank, the water.

Being a city bureau, it’s inevitable they get a bit behind on maintenance. Behold the weeds…

Yes, that picture is in visible light, albeit somewhat enhanced. I wandered around the park wearing two cameras, one infrared and one standard, straps slung diagonally crosswise across my torso, bandolero style. El Bandito Fotografía.

Just for fun, here’s another dandelion picture I’m stealing from another outing; a dandelion with a big zit.

Here’s another natural light shot from the grounds, a Dogwood blossom.

Folks who have followed this site for a few years may have a feeling of deja vu. I wrote about the St. Johns bridge and Cathedral park four years ago. Check out the link for more visible light pictures and facts and figures about the bridge. At the time they built it, it was the longest/tallest/highest clearance bridge of its type in the country.

Heading back to the park, it was time to take in the bridge vistas.

The bridge has two spired (inspired?) towers, one on each side of the river.

They say you should never look directly into the sun. Shade your eyes…

But the aspect that really gives the park its hushed, cathedral like feeling is the arched, gothic footings.

And the burning bush only adds to the feeling.

Ok, so it’s just a back-lit tree. Even in green, it’s pretty impressive.

The whole thing has a sort of stark beauty to it. Power, finesse, rigor, all wrapped in a velvet glove.

And in the end, despite it being a lovely warm spring day, by not abridging the bridge by merely seeing it in visible light, by looking beyond into the infrared we see it’s truly a bridge for all seasons.

48 thoughts on “Unabridged Bridge

  1. Another beautiful Oregon bridge, beautifully rendered by your camera, with it’s infra-red white, wintery look. Great job, Dave. I’m in Florence now, planning to drive up the road toward Yachats today. There’s a gorgeous bridge here, expect I’ll see some more. –Curt

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    1. I’ve always had a soft spot for that bridge in Florence. Back in ’77 when I was checking out the west coast I got a nice silhouette shot of it that stayed on my wall for many years.

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    1. It is an interesting world, although I’m noticing the response to these recent IR posts has been somewhat underwhelming. It’s probably just too weird for most people. When it comes to people pictures, it’s too weird for me too. Kind of marble statue like.

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  2. Wow, that bridge is indeed impressive. They just don’t make things like that any longer. SOme of the new bridges are architectural marvels but the gothic nature of this likely won’t be repeated. Love the look through the arched footings. IR is a great effect on these too.

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    1. It’s certainly the most interesting bridge in Portland, and we’ve got a lot of bridges. I’m reminded a bit of the architectural culture shock I had the first time I went to Europe, and how much more boring buildings looked when I returned. Even the nicer modern building seem like more flash than substance.

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    1. Thanks, Jane. I have an old Nikon D5000 that had been gathering dust for a few years that I had converted to IR in March. It was a 590nm conversion (IR + reds and oranges.) I have more details about that and the basics of IR photography and IR post processing a couple blog posts back.

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      1. If you want to do some deeper research, two of the main conversion companies are Life Pixel on the west coast and Kolari Vision on the east coast. Both are reputable, and both provide lots of info about IR considerations, filter options, etc on their websites.

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  3. I’ve crossed that bridge and you done it proud! Thanks for popping up at my post…. it brought me here where I thoroughly enjoyed the unsettling, but beautiful IR images. Have you posted the bridge at Newport (Yaquina Bay)? That one seems to be my all time favorite. Though St Johns comes in a close second.

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    1. Hi Gunta, welcome to the group. IR is new to me, I’ve only been experimenting with it for a couple months. It’s weird, but I’ve been getting use to the weirdness.

      I don’t have any posts with the bridge at Newport. It’s not often that we get that far down the coast, and the last time we passed through it was harsh, midday light. That works for IR, but not as well for regular pics. I haven’t explored the area enough to know the best angles. Do you have a favorite spot?

      We did make a trip down the south coast late summer 2019 that resulted in a couple of my more popular posts. It looks like you may be from that region. If you check my Oregon posts for November and December of 2019 you can see my take on it.

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      1. Thanks for the welcome, Dave. I must say no one else has ever done that before! I seem to be getting to an age where it gets harder learning to deal with new “gadgets” (it used to be so easy once upon a time), but I do love what you’re doing with them. The IR certainly adds its own flavor to your images.

        And then I went down the Rabbit Hole, following your link. Oregon is so much fun! I have no idea why the gods favored me to end up in this corner of Paradise. As for the Yaquina Bridge (Newport)… we go by there on the way to see the grandkids and I love its delicate grace… but have yet to find that spot to give it its due.

        Thanks for the link. It’s always such a pleasure to see these shores captured in all their beauty.

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      2. I like to welcome folks I think are actually interested, and not just fishing for return followers. And besides, as you noted earlier, we already have friends in common.

        There are more rabbit holes where that one came from… [evil grin…]

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  4. What an absolutely beautiful bridge. It took me a minute to find the people and the geese in the photo below the “don’t look into the sun” comment, but they certainly provide a sense of scale. The closeup of the willow beneath the bridge is nice, and I especially liked the photo of the single dandelion in seed.

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    1. It is a big bridge, isn’t it? Makes it all the more remarkable they went the extra mile to give it style. I don’t know if I even noticed the people, but the do give it scale. There were a number of ducks in the area. Strangely enough the mallard hens look about the same in IR, but the drake’s head is much darker. (From picture not posted.)

      The single dandelion is from my yard. It’s a focus stacked composite from something like 40 pictures. My camera has a function that helps on the capture side, and I have a special focus stacking software to merge all the sharpest focus points. (Am I mansplaining here? Maybe I should just say, yeah, I like that one too! 😉 )

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    1. Isn’t it great we don’t have to understand how something was done in order to enjoy it? The main reason I put the side note in was so people would have some notion of why the colors are “off”.

      How’s the book coming along?

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    1. I expect IR is just a phase I’m going through at the moment, what with it still being kind of a new toy (I got that old camera converted in March.) We’ll see how long it lasts, and how often I return to it. That bridge is picturesque to be sure, and I always enjoy driving over it as well as hanging out under it.

      I enjoy dandelions too, as long as they don’t get out of control. You may enjoy this post, where I did a whole photo essay on dandelions, with an emphasis on macro photography.

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  5. This bridge is fantastic, Dave. In both this post and the 2017 linked post, you did a great job of capturing the immensity of this remarkable structure. I’m really glad to know about it, as I may sometime get back to Portland and would love to see it in person. Wonderful photos, and interesting with the infrared; they challenge the eye to see differently, which I like, but my favorite is the dogwood.

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    1. Yeah, it’s probably time to get back into the visible light swing. IR is a bit of an acquired taste, although I don’t have the “been there, done that” problem. I hope you have a chance to see the bridge someday.

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  6. Your photos of the bridge and its surroundings are inspired – just beautiful. I’ve never seen it. The next time I’m in Portland I should look for it. It’s nice that you’re experimenting again. The willow under the bridge is particularly striking – the framing and angle are terrific. Stay cool, Dave!

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  7. Beyond gorgeous! Really liked seeing the infrared. How are you doing? I’ve been MIA since like forever. I fell into a funk in quarantine. Still struggling a bit. The not traveling is getting to me. I did find local rail trails so Vic and I can walk town to town. We’ll check those out when it’s cooler. Hope you and your wife are doing good!

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    1. I’m actually doing ok on this end. I have lost enthusiasm for blogging at the moment, ergo only seven posts over the last year when I used to go once a week. Travel would help, and while we’ve done a little recently, nothing super post worthy. Or maybe it is, but I’m just too lazy to make something of it. 😉

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