5 frames with...

5 Frames of Oysterville, Washington on Portra 400 with an Olympus 35 RD – by Shawn Granton

July 3, 2021

The Long Beach Peninsula juts out from the SW corner of Washington State. This low-lying arm of land separating Willapa Bay from the Pacific Ocean features lots of sandy beach–approximately 28 miles/45 km long, claimed as the longest beach in the United States. I can’t verify this, but I can vouch for the beauty and peacefulness of the place. It’s just far enough from our home in Portland (Ore.) and also from Seattle that it doesn’t feel overrun during the high season. My partner Emee and I have made frequent visits here over the years because of the scenery and the quiet.

The further north one heads up the peninsula, the quieter it gets. Close to the northern tip and on the bayside is the village of Oysterville. It was a site of shellfish harvesting by Indigenous peoples long before European settlement. Its American history started around 1841 and the town quickly became a hub of oyster cultivation. It soon became an important place, even being the county seat of Pacific County until the seat moved to South Bend (on the mainland) in 1893. Its days of importance faded rapidly at the end of the 19th century: The promised rail line stopped four miles short of town, and the oyster beds all but dried up. What’s left of Oysterville is a sleepy hamlet of a couple dozen residents. There’s a handful of houses, a church, an old school/meeting hall, a store, a postage-stamp-sized post office, and the surviving oyster fishery.

What remains of the housing stock is frozen in the past, a Victorian village that looks more New England than Pacific Coast. There are “streets” that are simply grassy rights-of-way that fade into the bay, ghosts of a place that used to be bigger. It’s a cute place to ramble around for a bit, and Emee and I love visiting. Oysterville is highly photogenic, so I make sure that I have a good camera in tow during our rambles.

We last visited at the end of this past April. I took my Olympus 35 RD, a gift from a friend who noticed my budding interest in film photography. After a CLA at Advance Camera (it suffered from sticky shutter syndrome, a common ailment with this camera), I have a great fixed-lens rangefinder from the same year I was born. I love the results I get with the F.Zuiko 40mm f/1.7 lens. And the compact size means the 35 RD is an easy companion, especially when bicycling.

As for the film stock, I opted for fast color film, as spring weather out this way can be moody and temperamental. I realize that Kodak Portra 400 is a bit cliche for a film photography-oriented blog post. (I usually use ColorPlus 200 or Ultramax 400 for my day-to-day shooting.) But I was feeling a bit fancy, and besides, Blue Moon had a sale… So enjoy some pics of a magical place.

Stoner House, c. 1905

Division “Street” 

Polite warning signs. Thankfully, there’s almost no traffic in Oysterville.

A nice place to view the bay

A stand of Monterey Cypress trees. Native to the Monterey Peninsula of California, nearly 800 miles/1,300 km south of Oysterville, these trees were supposedly brought up as ballast in oyster schooners. Redwood was also used as ballast, which was then used to build many of the homes in town.

For a full set of photos from this Long Beach Peninsula trip, check out this flickr album.

Thanks for reading! -Shawn

Check out my blog and me elsewhere on the internet here.

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    davesurrey
    July 3, 2021 at 3:59 pm

    Some interesting shots there Shawn.
    I have several Olympus rangefinders, including a 35EC, 35RC, 35RD and a 35SP and the RD is my overall favourite. If only it was aperture and not shutter priority.
    The difficulty setting an aperture, as the ring is so narrow and close to the camera body, was a real error by Olympus engineers who seemed to get so many things right at that time. But the lens and light weight more than make up for that IMO. I know the 35SP is a “better” camera but I find it too heavy by comparison.
    I hope the folk who did your CLA did a thorough job, ie totally disassembling the shutter, as the shutter blades do tend to re-clog after a while.

    • Reply
      shawn granton
      July 4, 2021 at 3:27 am

      Yeah, I also wish the 35RD was aperture priority instead, or at the very least had an easier-to-use aperture ring. I’ve resigned to using the 35RD in shutter priority, only switching to manual if necessary. I grab my Minolta Hi-Matic 7s when I want more manual exposure control.

    • Reply
      bp_reid
      July 6, 2021 at 2:52 pm

      Completely with you taking the RD over the SP any day of the week. I found the SP not only heavier but the EV exposure scale is not as user friendly as the finder in the RD. That said may personal favourite is the even more dumbed down DC, just point focus and click. Keeps it simple and fun which is how I like my CRF/viewfinder cameras.

      • Reply
        shawn granton
        July 6, 2021 at 5:33 pm

        I don’t own an SP, but my Hi-Matic 7s has an EV scale in the finder. I actually like it a bit! But I usually manually control exposure in the Minolta, so it’s helpful.

      • Reply
        shawn granton
        July 6, 2021 at 5:33 pm

        And does CRF stand for coupled rangefinder?

  • Reply
    Kevin Ortner
    July 3, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    It’s such a beautiful place from the southern part of Cape Disappointment, all the way up to Oysterville. Lots to do in between as well.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Dan Smouse
    July 4, 2021 at 6:19 am

    I’ve looked into the various compact Olympus but have never quite found the right deal. These are very nice of shots of a place I’d to visit myself. I especially love the shot of the bench among the flowers. Thanks for posting!

    • Reply
      shawn granton
      July 4, 2021 at 6:22 am

      Thank you!

      The compact Olympus cameras definitely command good prices. I’m really lucky that the 35 RD was gifted to me!

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