Working Man

Portland Oregon black and white film street photography by Paul Ottaviano
Andrew, assistant for Baseline Surveying. Nikon FE2, TriX 400 Film. Portland, OR.


Andrew came across as one really good person. We met shortly before I snapped this street portrait of him, working as a surveyor assistant in NW Portland.

He found my old Nikon FE2 camera fascinating. I was delighted by his surveying equipment. There are many different photographies, a lot of ways to use light to make a picture. So, in a way, we were two comrades in photography outside working for the day.

Andrew is new in town. He moved to PDX from Austin, TX. He likes it a lot better here. The pace suits him and he thinks people are friendlier. Interestingly, he had no problem finding a job.

“There are A LOT of jobs here (in comparison to Austin),” said Andrew. “The south is just getting too damn hard to find work.”

Contextually, his statement was a curiosity to me. We hear a lot about how Oregon is allegedly a bad place for business and jobs.

In PDX, so many people relocate here for either a tech job in the Silicon Forest or to pursue something creative. The pickings for the creatives is often slim. Portland is a tough job market, in some respects, particularly for professional endeavors. Like most everywhere, we do have an underemployment and homeless problem.

Gentrification is also an issue in Portland. Andrew surveying – presumably for an architecture firm – in NW Portland, a place he unlikely can afford to live in, was irony not lost on me.

But, Andrew is right. There are jobs around, if a person is willing to work a trade. It might not pay the most or lead to a swanky downtown apartment. But, for something like surveying, it’s an honest living and for Andrew this is more than okay. I was reminded of honor in labor. It was refreshing to meet someone like him.






Selfies Kill More People Than Shark Attacks

This story is making the rounds today, but per usual, the guilty pleasure of the The Daily Mail UK is the most delicious take on it.

While sometimes tragic accidents, some of these stories are indeed face palms. To paraphrase the late great George Carlin, “someone who swallows a bunch of marbles probably doesn’t deserve to have children of their own.”

Remember folks, grenades are, like, you know, dangerous weapons. Not worth a dumb ass like on Instagram.

Light Bath

portrait photo of baby by paul ottaviano

My home photography studio, while on the small side, has the benefit of tremendous window light. During the day, even if overcast, it fills a white room with enough continuous natural light that your standard main and fill artificial lights are not always needed.

In the case of the above photo, her parents did not have specific requests and just wanted good portraits of their baby girl. I thought that lighting for her needed to be soft and shadows soft as well, if really noticeable at all. What I wanted was an all-around soft continuous light, both natural and artificial. This way, I could shoot at wide apertures and fast shutter speeds but still avoid, in my opinion, a flat image. Her skin would look soft, but image sharpness would be retained.

I decided to use 90 degree window light in overcast conditions, a soft main light with an umbrella at 45 degrees, a soft fill light with umbrella in the standard position next to me, and a silver reflector functioning as a 45 degree rear accent light. What I wanted was a “bath of light” that both softened her skin, but also avoided too much shadow while a hint of it remained. There would be texture and smoothness. If you look at the catchlights in her eyes, you can see the multiple light sources.

I think it works.