Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Few Wise Guys

Woo, it's been a while. What with Thanksgiving and the change in season, it seems like there's never enough time! But I tell you, I wouldn't change anything. The view of Mount St. Helens out my hall window this morning took my breath away. I love it when Portland comes through with a crystal clear day after the dreary gray days everyone (who doesn't live here) thinks we have. Best kept secret!

New things just keep happening in this studio! First, we got ourselves a photoshelter account which we are adding to more and more. Then, Bruce Forster has started a new company with Mel Ulven and Gary White called WiseGuys3. For over 35 years these three have collaborated on project after project. Bruce on photography, Mel on graphic design, and Gary on copy writing. Together, they encompass all that any company would want and need for their advertising and promotional campaigns. Since the 70's Bruce, Gary, and Mel have worked with companies such as Lumilite, Skamania Lodge, Heathman Hotel, the Japanese Gardens, and Renaissance Homes to name a few. Mel and Bruce have traveled twice (!) around the world for work for ESI and Techtronix.

from left to right: Gary White, Bruce Forster, and Mel Ulven 

The three well experienced creators have formed a virtual agency with everything to offer. Now, a company can hire all or just one of these men or one of their associates, Troy Klebey (digital guru and the guy that makes ideas happen) and Mick Geary (videographer) to get a good job done.

WiseGuys3 Pretending to Find Their Way (Think three wise men)!

With their combined experience, respect for each other, and fun they have together, this mini pool of freelancers are perfect for any type of project!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's Windy Out There.

I don't know about you but I am totally fascinated by the landscape once I drive past The Dalles in Eastern Oregon. It's like entering another world. Not only does the sun finally appear but there is hardly anything green. Hello desert! The rolling hills sandwiching the Columbia River Gorge make for some of the best wind harvesting in the country. Now that there are over a thousand wind turbines blanketing the vast terrain, it's really starting to look like a new planet.

Klondike Biglow Canyon Oregon

Nighttime at Windy Point Wind Farm, Washington

These wind farms, measuring in at around 300-400 ft. tall (taller than any South Waterfront Condominium) and weighing over 200 tons, are the future of our electricity. The most powerful turbine in the gorge is Siemens Power Generation's 2.3 megawatt which can power almost 600 homes continuously. Despite their cost at over $1.5 million a pop, the motivation behind these technologically advanced windmills is saving money. If you can believe it. Within 7 months these modern day "farms" (a group of 50 turbines) can be up and running. Wind harvesting, as opposed to grain or vegetable harvesting, happens year round. The term "harvest time" has a whole new meaning.

Windy Point Wind Farm, Washington

Since our new venture with a photoshelter site, we have been uploading hundreds and hundreds of images.  Making sure they are all optimized for search engines takes time but one gallery that is completely done is our Wind Turbine gallery. Packed with some recent shots of Klondike Biglow Canyon and Windy Point, these beautiful images by Bruce Forster will fill all your stock needs! Check out the new site and throw us your opinions. We want to make it as easy to use as possible. And next time you have a free day, take a drive to Eastern Oregon to gawk at these non-traditional farms!

Windy Flats, Washington

Friday, November 6, 2009

The times, they are a changin'.

There's a lot going on here in the studio today. Bruce and Troy are about to head out the door to do an aerial shoot and Amaren is building our new Photoshelter account. Much of what we have been learning about here is how to optimize out site in order for it to be seen. Our current Viewfinders Stock Photography site is almost ten years old! We thought it was time for change. Photoshelter is a great site to let us control our SEO and keep an archive of our photos. At the same time, we will have a streamlined look with up to date keywords and new clients (we hope!). Local Portland photographer friend, Craig Mitchelldyer was kind enough to pop into our studio on Monday and give us a big long tutorial. He was very convincing...we signed up that afternoon. Now we just need to upload all our photos.


Our new site will allow people to search and view all our different galleries and easily purchase rights managed images. We will also allow download of lo-res mock up images. Need us to create a gallery of a certain type of images so you don't have to do the searching? No problem. There is a client area designed for clients to view, rate, and purchase images in their own specially designed gallery.

We are really looking forward to this new change at Viewfinders! We hope you will check us out when the times comes for the site launch! In the meantime, keep visiting Viewfinders Stock Photography for the most beautiful views of the Pacific Northwest.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Eye in the Sky

I hate to brag but one of the coolest things about ViewfindersNW is the amount of aerial shots we have! Owner of ViewfindersNW and lead photographer, Bruce Forster, does routine helicopter trips capturing the most beautiful views of the pacific northwest. Most people think of aerial shots in terms of maps (think satellite view on Google maps) limited only to a view from directly above. Using a helicopter (instead of a fixed wing airplane) allows Bruce to fly in as low as rooftops (sometimes!) and get an oblique perspective.

Many architectural beauties in this city are amazingly constructed to be seen not only at ground level but also from the sky. Take for example Portland's Walk of the Heroins designed by Mayer Reed which is nestled at the far west corner of Portland State University's campus. The walk honors all the women that have illuminated our lives. From above you can see the beautiful design of the walk encorporating the naming wall and the natural landscape.

The Twelve West Building on SW 13th Ave has the first inner city wind turbines on its rooftop. This sustainable building bridges the division between downtown and the Pearl District while also being one of the most future oriented LEED projects of Portland. The rooftop is not only home to these modern windmills (which, when harvested, provides about 1% of the building's energy) but also to tenant shared barbecues and a rainwater-recycling system. The aerial view shows all the benefits Twelve West has to offer (at least on the roof).  I just think it's cool to see wind turbines when I am driving down Burnside on my way to work!


If your vertigo hasn't kicked in yet, tap into this ongoing project Bruce has been diligently powering through. As we all know, Portland's South Waterfront is steadily becoming more and more developed offering green living and waterfront views. Before builders broke ground, Bruce was down there shooting away. Now, whenever on a flight, he makes sure to swoop down and grab some shots of their progress. It's proof of Portland's ongoing changes to both the environment and people's way of life.

 August 16, 2004

October 11, 2009

This year, Bruce has been airborne twice and if there is any foreseeable, dependable break in the weather combined with enough interest, be sure to look for him up there again! In need of some aerials? Get on the flight list! 503.222.5222.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Berlin: Non-Stop Action!

Despite all that's gone on in Berlin, the people of the city still manage to live up their nights to the fullest! One of our newest contributing photographers, Leah Nash took three weeks to immerse herself in one of the most progressive cultures in Europe. Sent to do a story that marks the 20th anniversary of the falling of the wall, she rented an apartment with a performer friend of hers, borrowed a pink bike, and partied at three clubs a night! (Not a bad gig, eh?)


The reason for Berlin's insane nights? Tons of artists are flocking there because of the amazingly cheap rent. The queer scene is popular because of the tolerant sexual culture. And, the city never sleeps: clubs stay open all night until noon the next day with no last calls. Pretty much you can do whatever you want in Berlin!


We always love submissions from Leah! See more of her Berlin photos on her website. We're looking forward to her next project!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fall Fun!

Fall is my favorite time of year. In fact, today has got to be the most perfect weather, 60 degrees, no wind, gray, no rain. Ahhhh. For some reason, it also seems to be the busiest time of year. We are still revamping Viewfinders with our addition of new photographers Leah Nash and Zeb Andrews as well as making our keywords absolutely outstanding!

photo by Zeb Andrews

This weekend (October 16-18, 2009) is the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest! Yum. I had a local apple yesterday that tasted like drinking apple cider. So sweet. Also out in the Gorge up the hill from Hood River in Odell is the Gorge Fruit and Craft Fair (October 17 & 18) which hasn't been around as long but still has some great treats to check out. I can't think of a better way to spend a fall weekend than hitting up a farm to grab a pumpkin for Halloween and some fresh, perfectly ripe fruit.

photo by Greg Vaughn

Another nice thing about this time of year is being able to stay inside with a warm cup of joe and enjoy a fire. Luckily Barista is downstairs in the Gadsby building so we have constant access to Stumptown coffee. Also, shown in Leah Nash's photo, the Ace Hotel is always a great place to relax with those big comfy couches and beautiful light. Taking photographs there is a dream!

photo by Leah Nash

We have joined Twitter! Our name is ViewfindersNW so follow us. We will be updating with new photos and information! Enjoy the weather before we get snow storms like last year. Yikes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meier & Frank Warehouse

In the fall of 2007, Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen announced its acquisition of the former Meier & Frank warehouse in the booming Pearl District, and related plans to convert the building into LEED-certified office space.

Two years later, the building, located just a few blocks from the Viewfinders studio at 14th and Everett, is still standing empty, a symbol of the depressed economy. According to an article in the Daily Journal of Commerce, Gerding Edlen has had trouble securing the financing needed to proceed with the project, thus construction has been delayed.

Viewfinders photographer Troy Klebey obtained access to the warehouse this week and captured this beautiful series of images of the building in its current condition, patiently awaiting its next iteration.

More images from his shoot can be viewed on his website's gallery.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gone to the Dogs

We're all pretty dog crazy here at Viewfinders, and we are lucky to work in a loft building that allows its tenants to bring their dogs to work!

Lucy (pictured here) is a pit bull/Jack Russell mix; she was a rescue dog adopted by our business development manager five years ago. She commutes in to the studio a few times a month, and enjoys the attention that is lavished upon her during visits.

Lead photographer Bruce Forster captured these (strikingly lovely!) shots of Lucy last week while she laid in her favorite spot in the studio: the sunny area rug by the window, taking in a lovely view of Portland's West Hills.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Grape Stomp

Home to more than 200 wineries, Oregon's Willamette Valley has earned a strong reputation for its production of Pinot Noir, one of my personal favorites. (Other varietals produced in the region include Pinot gris, Pinot blanc, Chardonnay, Melon, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, sparkling wine, Sauvignon Blanc, and some Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.)

This past Sunday, I headed south to Willamette Valley Vineyards to attend their annual Grape Stomp Championship & Harvest Celebration. We arrived at noon and already, the party was in full swing: a local cover band was playing on the lawn in front of the winery; families, couples and other groups were enjoying wine and picnics on blankets and in portable chairs; and a new heat of the Stomp had begun.

Eight barrels of grapes were lined up on wood pallets; a PVC pipe connected each barrel to a plastic one-gallon jug. Liquid from foot-crushed grapes drains through the pipe to the jug. Teams of two people were assigned to a barrel of grapes; one team member was barefoot in the barrel, the other stayed outside the barrel to provide physical support to the stomper and to ensure the jug stayed properly attached to the pipe. The team who had the most grape juice in their container at the end of the five-minute heat was declared the winner.

Some of the teams were dressed in costumes: togas, to channel Dionysus; suspenders and peasant dresses for more of a provincial look; a bright red satin evening gown that was awfully similar to a dress I wore to a formal high school dance in (ahem) the early 90s.

After cheering on a few heats of the stomp, we enjoyed views of the Willamette valley from our picnic blanket, and of course, some delicious pinot noir.

Viewfinders photographer Greg Vaughn has shot dozens of the region's vineyards; his images are posted here. The first two images are of Willamette Valley Vineyards' vines and a previous year's Grape Stomp.

The third and fourth images were shot at Champoeg Vineyard, which is planted on the south facing slope of a small hill known as La Butte, overlooking the beautiful French Prairie.

Below is an image of the Archery Summit underground aging caves, which are modeled on the subterranean cellars of the Côte d’Or. Naturally insulated with volcanic rock, the temperature in the caves remains between 55-59 degrees throughout the year, with humidity below 75 percent.

All of the images are available from Viewfinders for licensing or as gallery prints.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Farmers' Markets

One of my favorite things to do in summer and early fall as a child was accompanying my mother to the local farm stand to buy fresh peaches, apples, cherries, tomatoes, corn and other local produce. I think it felt like such a treat because the Midwestern climate only allows for a few months of local harvesting. The rest of the year, much of the fresh produce we consumed was shipped in from other regions and countries. And no matter how well it's been packaged or transported, week-old apples simply do not taste as good as the ones picked from the tree just yesterday.

So, as an adult, I've developed a strong affinity for farmers markets, and it's heavenly to live in Portland where various markets run almost year-round. Some of these markets have evolved to be not just about the farmers and their produce: There are often prepared food stands and art vendors, tables hosted by community organizations and nonprofits, and live cooking demonstrations and music.

Instead of a stop-off for weekly grocery shopping, farmers' markets are now more like a weekly festival, and yet so intrinsic to the local culture here in Oregon that I don't think most people view them for what they are: a real treat.

[The images I selected for this post were taken by Viewfinders photographers Bruce Forster and Troy Klebey, and are available on for licensing or as prints for purchase.]

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

'Graffiti Funhouse' gallery show opens

Last Thursday marked the opening night of Viewfinders photographer Bruce Forster's exhibition at the AIA Gallery in Portland's Pearl District. The multimedia installation entitled "Graffiti Funhouse: A Tribute to the Artists of Pirate Town" featured Bruce's colorful photographs and portions of Pirate Town walls that were scavenged during its demolition earlier this summer.

Kudos to Infinity Images, who produced the gorgeous large-format reproductions of Bruce's photos; and to longtime friend and colleague Mel Ulven, whose design expertise led to the creative arrangement of the installation.

The exhibit will remain in the AIA Gallery throughout the month of September. To see even more images that Bruce shot at the Pirate Town site, check out the "Graffiti Funhouse" gallery on his website.

Additional thanks to photographer Troy Klebey who captured last Thursday's event; his images are displayed here.