Portland Oregon, October 2012

Another quick trip up to Portland, Oregon happened a week ago to:  1) perform some cancer related experiments that I am tremendously excited about with a friend of mine, Charles Keller up at OHSU.  And 2) talk photography, plan and scheme with my friends Trent and Duncan on how to take over at least one little part of the world…  More on that later.


The experiments I was doing involved cell cultures derived from human patients with deadly cancers.  These cancers are aggressive childhood cancers that affect the connective tissues and muscles and commonly result in amputations or other aggressive treatments to save lives… if the lives can be saved.  This work is a pretty radical departure from the work that we normally do in retinal circuitry and retinal degeneration, but thanks to technologies invented here in the Moran Eye Center, we think that there are new ways to expand the work we are doing in the retina and examine metabolism in cancerous tissues.


Charles has a really well run lab at OHSU with some amazing staff.  Elaine did not want me to make her picture, but I did want to give her a shout out for helping arrange the collection of the tissues and cell cultures.  Thanks Elaine!


Charles and I also took a ride on OHSU’s new(ish) tram down to the riverside.  Its a pretty nice and convenient way to get down to the riverside and an interesting way for Portland to open up development of a previously blighted area.  Portland has been really smart about getting people to reinvest in the central Portland area and its paying huge dividends, even in a down economy.  The Pearl district has changed so amazingly in the last few years, all because of reinvestment in the city center and the new South Waterfront where the tram goes from OHSU looks to be another success.


Trent had traveled up to Portland to talk with Duncan and I and Duncan generously offered to host us in his home which allowed us to  scheme our plans.  I’m just sorry that there was not time to meet with other peeps in Portland as it would have been good to catch up.


We were however, able to meet up with Greg Koenig, who is Duncan’s business partner in Luma Labs and an amazingly clear thinker as well as being a truly talented materials engineer.


These two shots of Trent and I were made by Duncan with my camera.  Thanks man.  The nice thing about hanging out with other photographers that work with a diverse ecosystem of cameras is that you get to try out everybody else’s gear and bounce ideas back and forth about technique and approach.  Duncan shoots with Nikon, but also Fuji and whatever else he can get his hands on.  Trent shoots with Canon, Leica and Fuji and I shoot with Canon.  All of us also shoot with our iPhones which interestingly are becoming a bigger part of photography.  Currently, Apple is producing the most used camera in the world with the iPhone which is rather stunning if you think about it.

Putting all of that together makes you realize that there is still a market for the perfect camera.  Its exciting to see what Sony, Fuji and Olympus have been doing in the market and it would sure be nice to see more companies step into the smaller form factor portion of the market.


We also had a little bit of time to indulge in the culinary scene in Portland which is pretty exciting right now.  One of the local places we went, Water Avenue Coffee serves up some of the most amazing coffee.  It was phenomenal…  Don’t really know how to describe it other than low acid, very (almost Kona) smooth and crisp.  Elements of honey with a hint of cocoa and a clean feel on the tongue.  The crema… gosh… so beautiful and smooth.  Stumptown Coffee was another coffee favorite that we got to visit after going for Cornflake encrusted French toast made from challah bread at Mothers Bar.  The folks at Stumptown made the most lovingly crafted cappuccino and hot chocolates that I’ve seen in a long time and that French toast?  Wow.


We also got to walk up to Salt and Straw for ice cream.  Salt and Straw is another local favorite in the Portland area that make some of the most amazing combinations of ice cream flavors ever.  I had the honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper that blew my mind, though I’d really want to also try the pear with blue cheese, the cheddar apple, coffee and bourbon, sea salt ice cream with caramel and many more… Who are we kidding?  I want to try *all* of those flavors.

The cool thing about Portland is that there is this vibe… This ability to find people that are passionate about what they do and go deeeep, down the rabbit hole with it.  Whether it is cuisine or photography or machining, design, materials, art, fashion or whatever.  Finding the right people and creating an environment that fosters and grows this sort of thing is what all communities should strive for.  It allows and encourages people to take risks like Duncan and Greg with Luma Labs.  I’ve talked about it before, but when they told me that they were starting a company that made camera straps, I was hugely skeptical.  But they persisted and have proven to me and all their customers what a big deal a well designed camera strap is.  I’m not sure that Luma Labs would have been able to start up in many other places in the world, but they certainly could in Portland where finding people with diverse and deep skills is remarkably easy.  Luma Labs and all of these businesses are real Portland business success stories that I’ll continue to follow, even from Salt Lake City.


Hey Duncan, thanks man.  Look forward to seeing where these plans go.

Last shot:

Camera: Canon 1D X
Exposure: 1/125
Aperture: f/1.2
Focal Length: 50mm
ISO: 1250

13 Replies to “Portland Oregon, October 2012”

  1. Sounds like a great trip. I worked at OHSU in the late 90s. I mostly remember the location and the incredible views, as well as a terrific staff and solid mission. I had read about the tram, but have yet to try it myself.

  2. I’ve heard so much about Portland’s European feeling, am eager to check that out :) That honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper sounds very promising!

  3. Great story, Greg. Portland is one of my favourite places to visit, and Duncan has been a gracious guide many times, showing me many great places. It’s been too long; I need to get back down there soon!

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