Joe Is a Jesus-lovin, picture takin fool from banks, oregon. His other hobbies include climbing, hiking, fixing his vanagon, and pretty much anything slightly dangerous or far from the ground.

With an enormous love for life and people, joe brings a smile to everything he does. this blog is a small glimpse of his view on the world and the things created in it.


3rd Time's Not a Charm, It's Miserable

3rd Time's Not a Charm, It's Miserable

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
— Winston S. Churchill

Well. After going through all that work to shoot the Portland Skyline a few days ago, I found out people weren't happy with one aspect of the photo. The Coin Tower was positioned in front of the Wells Fargo Center which diminished its unique shape. Ugh. 

Anyway I took this feedback as a challenge, and spent the evening planning where to get a better vantage point. I found that the pylons right off the shore by OMSI were perfect, as they were close enough to the shore I could throw a rope over the crossbeam. Ok. I went home, packed my rope and the waterproof case, and headed out.

In the lower half of this picture you can see the observation deck, and the crossbeam between the two pylons, but you can't see the ladder going up from the distant pillar.

Attempt #1 - I show up to to OMSI, walk down to the water, and immediately decide it's not going to happen. The crossbeam I was going to throw my rope over was about 40 feet in the air! There's no way I could throw my heavy rope that high! So I stood there and stared for a while, and went home.

Attempt #2 - I walk by some cops (parked less than 1,000ft from my spot on the shore,) set my bag on the shore, and started unloading my rope. This time I brought fishing line to use as a tagline to carry my rope over. I attached a spatula to the fishing line and (with deadly precision) I threw said spatula over the crossbeam. It cleared with less than five inches and soared into the water 40 feet below. I attached my rope to the fishing line and started pulling, but to my ignorant astonishment the fishing line began to stretch! Why would it do such a thing? The rope made it to the edge of the concrete, but it wouldn't budge any further. With a sharp tug the fishing line snapped, sending my rope into the river. And with that, I drove home.

Attempt #3 - On my lunch break at work I drove out and bought a $30 roll of fishing line (65lb strength, tear resistant, 300m) and four 15m rolls of cordelette for $20. Completely prepared, I set up my gear in the same spot, less than 1,000 meters away from two idling cop cars. Spatula soared over the beam as planned, and the cordelette followed the fishing line, with the rope in tow after that. The whole process took about 15 minutes. I anchored my rope down in the rocks and prayed to God I wouldn't weigh enough to make them budge. Using prusik knots I ascended my rope about 10 inches at a time. This is when I started feeling like I was in a mission impossible movie or that I was a Navy Seal. It was pretty cool. Eventually I got all my gear ready and my camera settings down. I climbed the ladder on the second pylon all the way to the top, and found a shelf on the other side of the cars to army crawl out on. I had to be careful, because in my research I discovered there was a security camera on the upper level of cars that could possibly see me. I worked fast and got my shots. I was so close to the cars I could have reached over from where I was laying and smacked a rearview mirror or two. 

As I began my descent, I noticed there was a man now sitting on the observation deck that overlooks my spot on the shore. Shoot! I didn't want to attract his attention, so I waited. And waited. After about an hour, I saw his head drop forward. He fell asleep! Perfect. I finished my climb down the super tall ladder, slid with my prusiks down the rope, and swam back to shore. I packed my gear up as fast as I could and headed out, completely and utterly satisfied. I have a nasty bruise on my upper thigh where one of my prusik ropes sat, I was absolutely soaked, and I had just spent a vast amount of time on this shot. Was it worth all the effort? You bet.

Portland Skyline as seen from the I-5 bridge

An Impeccably Executed Surprise

An Impeccably Executed Surprise

A Ship Among the Stars

A Ship Among the Stars