A Tale of Two Cities: The Bridges of San Francisco and Portland, Oregon


I do not generally take photographs of bridges, but in many cities the bridges represent a larger metaphor. For some it is mechanical genius, for others it represents the idea of difference, and yet for others the bridge is a gateway to a better place. I spent a week in San Francisco and a week in Portland, Oregon this summer. When I am traveling to places where the landscapes might prove interesting, then I pack along my Hasselblad SWC camera. Its 38mm Biogon lens provides a totally unique image unlike any other camera that I have ever seen. The frame tends to be almost distortion free, and the wide angle on medium format film fits perfectly within the square used by Hasselblad.

I bought my 1984 camera used from KEH in Atlanta, Georgia about two years ago. At $3000 it was a major investment, especially given the questionable lifespan of film and film processing. However, given my mantra of “while we can”, I decided that this camera with no accurate viewfinder, no guaranteed way to focus, and expensive accessories was bound for my collection of beautiful photographic glass.

The bridges themselves, while both on the West Coast of the United States, are major contrasts. The Golden Gate is an expansive feat of engineering well-known across the world. The industrial bridge in Portland, not so much, but its context of being among several close bridges, and its compelling lighting in the evening made it a worthwhile capture. The Golden Gate Bridge was photographed beneath its right side in the mid morning, whereas the Portland Bridge was photographer mid evening on its left side. Both images used Kodak 120 Portra NC Film and both stand up alongside previous photographs I have taken of the Brooklyn Bridge and a bridge I shot in Thunder bay in March with the same set-up.

As far as cities go…I highly preferred Portland’s edgy resilience and hipster nostalgia for what is real. San Francisco remains stuck in the 1960s and is filled with those lost in a misplaced nostalgia for the Free Love/Drug Movements. Now the other side of the Golden Gate, the Napa and Sonoma Valleys…that is another story altogether.



One response to “A Tale of Two Cities: The Bridges of San Francisco and Portland, Oregon

  1. You captured my favourite bridge in Portland (well, to be honest, my fave bridges in both cities). Beautiful photos!

    I typically do not self-promote, but this post had a little bit of history, and some support for that “metaphor” you are talking about. However <> photography not nearly as professional-looking as yours.


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