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Laura Argalis Thursday, June 26, 2008

A few portraits of my friend, Laura, shot today at her studio in Milwaukie. Check out her website here.

Campbell Memorial

Portland Firefighter of the Year Tony Snook rings a bell June 26 as the roll is called at the 97th Campbell Memorial Ceremony, which honors firefighters killed in action.Recent research led to the addition of four names to the roll in 2008, bringing the total to 36 who died between 1881 and 1977.

The annual Campbell Memorial Ceremony is named for Chief David Campbell, who was killed when a burning building collapsed June 26, 1911. Every year, Portland firefighters gather at Portland Firefighters Park to honor him and other local firefighters killed in action.

The park sits on a small wedge of land on West Burnside between 18th and 19th streets. The monument was built in the 1920s.

Dignitaries on hand for this year's ceremony included new City Commissioner Nick Fish and Police Chief Rosie Sizer, as well as descendants of some of the firefighters on the roll.

[right] Peter Linsky, President of the David Campbell Memorial, addresses the audience June 26. [below] A couple dozen uniformed firefighters were on hand for the ceremony, along with a handful of police officers and other participants.

Hayden rocks Portland Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Canadian rocker Hayden played to a small but enthusiastic crowd tonight at the Aladdin Theater in Portland. A couple of hundred Hayden fans showed up to see him and opening act Haley Bonar.

It was a fun show to see—with only a couple hundred die-hards to play to, Hayden was able to interact pretty intimately with the audience
(although I've heard that he's usually that way), and I like that: it makes each show a unique experience that you can't get by throwing the CD in your player.

These are a couple of bonus pictures. You can see full coverage on Northwest CanCon.

Interview with Jeremy Fisher Friday, June 20, 2008

The highlight of my day was definitely the interview I did with Jeremy Fisher before his show at the Roseland here in Portland. You might not recognize his name, but you may well have seen his home-made video for "Cigarette" which "went viral," as they say, on YouTube about 18 months ago, I think. If you haven't seen it, check it out. It's very well done, and the song is catchy too. And it's up over 2.1 million hits now.

Jeremy was really cool, down-to-earth, and easy to talk to, and so were his band mates. The rest of the people at the Roseland were also very helpful.

Here is the portrait I made of Jeremy in one of the hallways at the theater. I went down to the theater earlier in the day to scout it out. I saw this hallway through the Burnside St. windows, and figured it would be a good place to shoot. The only problem was the constricted space—lots of headroom, but the hallway is only about four feet wide. I shot it with a pair of speedlights in a simple cross-lit configuration. I was lying on the floor to maximize the number of photos in the background, but I had to avoid the ugly fluorescent lights on the ceiling. You can just see the reflection of one of them in the top right corner.

Links to the interviews are posted on NW CanCon. There's about 20 minutes of material there, split into two parts for your convenience!

It's me! Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I spent a few minutes messing around with my speedlights this evening, in the only space in my apartment big enough for anything. Well, I guess I could have used my bedroom, but that would have required even more cleaning up.

My tripod is in the car, so I put the camera on my bass amp, pointed slightly upwards by a small box. The main light (camera left) was sitting on top of my CD rack; the fill (camera right) was on top of my TV. I only have three PocketWizards, one short of what I'd need to fire two lights and a remote camera, so I triggered the camera with a PocketWizard and used the CLS infrared system to fire the lights. I set off the whole thing with a PW that I triggered with my toe!

I made a whole bunch of images, but this one is probably best reflection of me right now: tired. I'm going to bed.

Hot News!

My other blog, Northwest CanCon, took a major step forward today, booking an interview with Jeremy Fisher.

Sometimes sounding like Bob Dylan with singing lessons, other times like Paul Simon circa 1975, the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter was nominated for both New Artist of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year at the 2008 Junos.
I'll be speaking with him Thursday, when he's in town for a show at the Roseland.

If you're in town, check out the show. If not (or even if you are), be sure to tune in to this space for the interview.

Goofing around in Corvallis

Sean Hoffman poses June 15 in a coffee shop in Corvallis, Ore.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was on the road last weekend. After Friday's shoots in Coos Bay, I drove back to Eugene for the night.

Saturday was a pretty straightforward day of graduations at the University of Oregon. Apart from some last-minute changes to the specific ceremonies I was to shoot, it was no big deal.

After the last ceremony of
the day wrapped up around 6, we headed back to the hotel. A group of four of us headed across the road to get a bite to eat, then were to put in another hour or two's worth of work scanning address cards and downloading the day's pictures. I figured we'd be done with that by about 10 or so, leaving plenty of time to go out for a beer. But that wasn't to be.

Upon returning to the hotel after dinner, Michael, our fearless leader, reported problems with the scanner and internet connection. There was no way that we would be able to get all the pictures done and still be able to function for Sunday's graduation at Oregon State. He made the executive decision to overnight most of the work to the office in California. The only problem: there was no UPS, FedEx option in Eugene on Saturday night, nor either of the air freight companies we deal with. The quickest way to get the stuff to LA was to put it on a flight Sunday morning in Portland.

I got the honor of getting it there. After completing as much work as we could by midnight and packaging everything else up, I went to bed. I got up at 3, put the stuff in the car, and drove straight to PDX. (It's really quiet on the freeways at 4 a.m. on a Sunday.) I delivered the two boxes to the Southwest freight counter at 5:30, then drove home. I managed to get another two hours or so of sleep, got up, showered, and drove back down to Corvallis where the rest of the crew were getting ready for the Northwest Region's largest graduation ceremony of the year.

Squirrel's Tavern in Corvallis, Ore., is quiet on a Sunday evening.

The ceremony at OSU is really something else. Rather than have departmental ceremonies like the U of Oregon, OSU has one ceremony for the entire class in Reser Stadium. I'd guess there were at least 10,000 family and friends in the stands—it's really something to be down on the field with that many people cheering.

Anyhow, the 2100 graduates assemble in a park a few blocks away from the stadium, then all march in together. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and 75 degrees with a little breeze. But the ceremony is long. They only read the names of the Ph.D. candidates, and the bachelors walk through four separate lines, but there are a lot of them.

You know what the most impressive thing is, though? Unlike most schools, where the students just receive an empty folder as they walk across the stage, all of the OSU graduates receive a folder with their actual name in it! Unbelievable. I can't imagine the logistics of arranging that, but they do it every year.

This is what happens when a photographer (Sean) points a camera at two other photographers (Matthew and Margie).

Anyhow, after we wrapped up everything there, pretty much everybody was ready for a break. Most of us went to a pizza place near the campus for a bite to eat and a beer. With no commitments for Monday morning, Margie Pettit, Sean Hoffman and I stayed a little later.

Elkton, Oregon Monday, June 16, 2008

Not much time to post right now, but it's been a while.

Last Friday I drove down to Coos Bay, about four hours from Portland on the southern Oregon coast, to shoot a graduation at Southwestern Oregon Community College. For the first time in far too long, it was a nice, warm, sunny day. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to enjoy it.

The fastest route to Coos Bay passes through Eugene to Curtin, where you take OR-38 across the Coast Range to Reedsport, then another 30 miles south to Coos Bay.

I stopped for fuel (auto and human) in Elkton, about 25 miles off I-5 on OR-38. I bought the gas first, and asked the attendant where the best place in town was to eat. I was looking for something quick and not too expensive. "Well that narrows it down to Arlene's," he said, one block away from the gas station.

"You can eat in a booth or at the bar," he added, "but I wouldn't eat at the bar if I was you. The bartender's the ugliest SOB you've ever seen, more chins than China."

I said I'd be sure to tell him you said that. It's probably your brother, I joked.

"No, my brother-in-law. It probably wouldn't go over too well." I decided to sit in a booth and not say anything. Turns out that the girl at the bar was a cute blonde teeny-bopper, so it probably wasn't the same person. I ordered a hot roast beef sandwich. It was fast—on my table in less than 10 minutes—and edible but not particularly good. I took a couple of photos of the main drag, and headed out of town.

MacLeay Park Sunday, June 08, 2008

Ben and Jeremy hike along a trail in Portland's MacLeay Park June 7, 2008.

Late yesterday afternoon, my buddy Ben called me up and said he and Jeremy were going for a hike in Forest Park, did I want to come? I wasn't really up to anything, so I said sure.

It was a cool, grey day, but not raining. Ben picked me and Jere
my up, and drove us about a mile to a trail head for the Lower MacLeay trail at about 29th and Upshur Street.

(MacLeay Park is one section of the 5,100-acre Forest Park in Northwest Portland.)

In spite of its proximity to my apartment, I'd never been to that part of the park. As you hike along Balch Creek you can hardly even tell you're in the city.

The creek is named for Danford Balch, the original settler in the area. Balch, who would become the first person in Portland to be tried and hanged (for the murder of his son-in-law), acquired the 640 acre spread through a Donation Land Claim in 1850. His story reads like something out of Shakespeare—read it here.

The Stone House sits along the Lower MacLeay trail about three-quarters of a mile up Balch Creek. It is often, incorrectly, thought to be the remnants of the Balch family homestead. In fact, it was a public restroom built in the Great Depression but eventually abandoned due to excessive vandalism.

Shortly after we passed the Stone House the trail started climbing steeply. Suddenly we came to a small clearing right next to Cornell Rd., with a trail map and a parking lot. Since we had plenty of energy and daylight left, we decided to press on toward Pittock Mansion.

We crossed the road and found the continuation of the trail, which climbed even more steeply than before. We kept following the trail until it suddenly dumped us out on NW MacLeay Blvd.: way up in the West Hills, but not where we'd expected to be. We must have missed an intersection at some point. Oh well. We headed back down another loop that took us back to Cornell Rd., then back down to Balch Creek and the car.

Balch Creek is one of two year-round streams in Forest Park. It has a native population of trout.

When you wish upon a star ... Thursday, June 05, 2008

Make-A-Wish recipient Owen (left), stares in wonder as a squadron of Stormtroopers gets out of a MAX train June 3 at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The characters, from the 501st Legion, Cloud City Garrison, were on hand to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon send Owen off on his wish trip to Disney World's Star Wars weekend.

Wearing parts of his new Stormtrooper costume, Owen fights Darth Vader.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon kicked off their "Destination Joy" campaign Tuesday morning with a gathering in Pioneer Courthouse Square. The highlight of the event was the presentation of a new Stormtrooper costume to Owen, 6, who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and several Stormtroopers were on hand to make the surprise presentation to Owen.

Several media outlets were there for the celebration, including KATU, who broadcast parts of it live on AM Northwest (including a little bit of me at work in the background).

Starlight Parade Sunday, June 01, 2008

Royal Rosarians like Careen Langslet (right) are the "official greeters and ambassadors of goodwill for the City of Portland." One of their annual duties is to marshal the Starlight Parade, which wound through downtown Portland last Saturday night.

[above] Even recycling was cause to dance as the annual Rose Festival kicked off May 31 with the Starlight Parade. Portland Recycles' entry was one of dozens of floats, bands and other groups that marched in the nighttime parade. [below] The parade drew people of all ages to downtown Portland on Saturday night.

Last year I stumbled across the tail end of the Starlight Parade as I walked home from another event. The annual nighttime parade has roots back to 1907, and is one of the most popular events in Portland's annual Rose Festival.

This year, I found the time to check out the event for myself. It was alright, but not as good as I'd anticipated. Maybe my expectations were too high. There were a lot of entries (approaching 100, I think), including some very good bands, but I was expecting more of a light show—you know, use the darkness of the night for some kind of creative light show. There were a few attempts in that direction, but nothing really spectacular that I saw. (To be fair, I did shoot a lot of the parade from the corner of SW Broadway and Salmon, where KGW8 had the whole block lit up for their TV coverage and I could get the Arlene Schnitzer's marquee in the background. The light helped my pictures, but may have diminished the impact of any light shows the entries had. But I didn't see anything that made me say "Wow, that would look really cool if it were darker.")

[left] Even Honest Abe made an appearance May 31 at the Starlight Parade. [below] Probably the coolest thing I saw at the parade was Portland Fire & Rescue, who would set up a 20-foot ladder in the middle of the street and have one of their own do a swan dive off the top into the crash pad below, just like you see in the old-time movies. Lieutenant Inspector Louisa Jones, seen at the top of the ladder here, says they only let the smaller people do it--otherwise "it's too hard on the people below."

What was cooler, that I hadn't expected to see, was the Starlight Run. The 5-km race celebrated its 30th anniversary this year by looking back to the 1970s for the costume contest. Yes, you read that right—before the starting gun goes off, the runners' outfits are judged. I caught them at the corner of W Burnside and Broadway, about halfway through the race. As you can see, some of the runners are more serious than others.