Beneath the Bridge

It’s like the person the items belonged to has been taken up in the Rapture. That’s what I think when I see “left behind” things around the city. Like these old shoes under Portland’s Burnside Bridge. Like a pair of perfectly good mittens by the side of the freeway or a baby stroller abandoned on the sidewalk.

under the bridge_copyright

The other day, I saw a woman’s dress – red with white polka dots and one torn sleeve – fluttering in a shrub in a fancy neighborhood. There was a porkpie hat sitting on a bench in a downtown Portland park, a layer of mold taking over it’s rain-sopped crown. This morning I saw a child’s plastic tricycle hanging from a tree branch near the bike path.

I know I’m not the only one with a fascination for abandoned items. It’s haunting and beautifully sad, like shuttered institutions and crumbling barns. And of course there’s a story — a human story — for every item that most likely will never be fully told. We have only the image and our imagination to fill in the gaps.

What are your favorite “left behind” images? Post links in the comments. I love the stark simplicity of this series by Marc Llach: http://www.marcllachfotografia.com/index.php?/maquetes/left-behind-working-on/

 

On the Move: Street Photography Tips for Stopping Time

I found a wall with bright light coming in at a late winter angle….and waited. It was perfect. People and their shadows came strolling by creating a delightful effect against the stark background.

But all the movement made it tricky to get clear shots, so I re-grouped and found some great advice for some technical tightening that made a huge difference. Check out these expert tips by photographer Jason Little here: http://www.lightstalking.com/9-easy-tips-for-sharper-punchier-street-scenes/

girl on a mission

Image Copyright Gina Williams 2016

Born to Be Blue

Ethan Hawke plays famed trumpet player Chet Baker in Born to  Be Blue, a new indie film by writer/director Robert Budreau depicting Baker’s troubled & tumultuous life and attempted comeback. My favorite review so far is by Dwight Brown, National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) News Wire Film Critic. http://www.blackpressusa.com/film-review-born-to-be-blue/

I’m looking forward to seeing this film for myself. Born to Be Blue opened nationally to limited theaters on March 25. It’s coming to Portland’s Living Room Theaters April 15.

Fly Little Bird: Le Pigeon Ditching Tipping

Le Pigeon

Kudos to another Portland restaurant (and a very fine one too) for announcing recently that tipping will end soon in favor of higher base wages for employees.

Le Pigeon, one of my favorite #PDX restaurants (French-inspired, inventive comfort food with a hip Portland flair) announced recently that tipping will be eliminated by June, with Little Bird, the other restaurant owned by Gabriel Rucker and Andy Fortgang to go tipless soon after, once the kinks are worked out.

I bellied up to the chef’s bar last night for a mind-blowing meal (they all are) of rabbit ravioli appetizer (so fitting for Easter Sunday) followed by the main course dish of “Roasted Tails & Trotters Pork” with potato spätzle, clam cream, cockles & pickled peppers. Oh my.

I know what it’s like to wait tables for a living. Back in the day my base pay at a nice restaurant near Tempe, AZ was barely above $1 per hour. The worst tipper I ever served was the well-to-do mayor of Phoenix at the time (the filthy rich %$&*).  I’m proud of Portland and restaurants like Le Pigeon for taking good care of customers with delicious, inventive cuisine and their staff with competitive pay.

As Oregon’s new higher minimum wage kicks in, this trend should become more and more common, a good trend indeed. A decent living is a decent living, no matter how you slice it.

Check out Le Pigeon at http://lepigeon.com/ and Little Bird here http://littlebirdbistro.com/

 

PDX Zen

Portland, Oregon’s Japanese Garden is undergoing a major renovation. The garden recently reopened after a long closure, but construction is still underway with exciting changes coming in the near future.

I first visited the garden as a child when I went with a student group. I was fascinated by the tea ceremony, the structures and details. I’ve been going back ever since.

In 1958, Portland became a sister city to Sapporo, Japan. Plans for a traditional garden in Portland began soon thereafter. It opened in 1963. Located high above the city center in Portland’s West Hills, the garden is near another horticultural treasure: the International Rose Test Garden.

Rain or shine, construction or no construction, the garden is always a breath of fresh air in the middle of the city. Garden details & hours here: http://japanesegarden.com/

Old Paree: Street Photography in Paris

A couple of years ago I decided it was time to get my butt off this continent and finally go to Europe. Paris, specifically, had been on my mind for a long time. The desire was cemented during a conversation with my 89-year-old Grandmother who had always wanted to go and didn’t. Now she can’t because of health issues and age. Our conversation sparked this poem and I began planning.

The trip would be solo — my husband wasn’t interested in Europe and honestly, solo travel feels good now and then. Traveling alone to new places, I believe, makes us/me stronger permanently. It builds mind muscle and develops new synapses where there were once only ideas and dreams. Like art, cultural experience is life. Solo travel can feel like concentrated color or light — the focus is entirely different.

So I built a two-week trip around a three-day street photography workshop in Paris with amazing photographer Valerie Jardin. Meeting her was like meeting a hero and a celebrity crush all at once. In fact, one day while out shooting, a woman (I believe she was from Australia) recognized Valerie on the street and had a similar reaction. Learning from her and getting to know an incredible group of photographers from around the world was priceless. I’m so thankful for the experience that took me from my Portland, Oregon USA home to Seattle, WA to a four-day stopover in Iceland and on to Paris. The most expensive part of the trip was the flight and the workshop. I saved money by staying at a guesthouse in Iceland, a budget hotel in France & hunting down affordable food options like grocery store wine & cheese and the world’s best hot dogs at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a little street stand in Reykjavik, Iceland. Travel is expensive, but good planning and putting a true cultural experience above “tourism” can help make it affordable.

Don’t wait. Just don’t.

A few images from the distant and “cobblestoned” roads…..

 

Sands of Time

Honeyman Beach, Oregon Coast USA.

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