8 Frames Of The Deschutes River Trail With An Olympus 35 RD And Kodak Ektachrome 200 – By Shawn Granton

One of the reasons I love living in Portland, Oregon is the access to diverse landscapes. The city and surroundings most resemble what one thinks of “Pacific Northwest USA”, a landscape of Douglas-fir forests, farms, and cities. Drive two hours west and I’ll have the full splendor of the Pacific Ocean at my feet.

But drive two hours east and I’m in a completely different landscape, a semi-arid tableau dominated by hills, rock, grass, and sagebrush, with scant trees. We call it The High Desert, though it’s technically more of a steppe than true desert. We Portlanders like heading to it as much as possible, especially during the wetter winter months. The wide-open landscape and big skies can brighten the mood.

One of my favorite eastern Oregon spots to explore is the Deschutes River Canyon. The Deschutes (pronounced “duh-shoots”) is one of the state’s major rivers, flowing northward from its source on the east side of the Cascade Mountains to the Columbia River just east of The Dalles. The first ten miles (16km) or so from its mouth is the Deschutes River Trail. Located on the east side of the river, it uses the former railbed of the Deschutes Railroad. During the turn of the Twentieth Century, two competing railroads built lines on opposite banks of the river, from the mouth up to the city of Bend. Due mostly to lack of traffic, the east side line was abandoned, leaving just the west side as the active rail. (BNSF trains still ply this route, and it’s common to see one or two of them when out here.)

Myself and my partner Emee headed out to the Deschutes River Trail at the end of March. Springtime is a great time to go, as the hills are a soft green color, the wildflowers are blooming, and heat and rattlesnakes are avoided. While some people walk the trail, we like to bicycle it. Most of the railbed is a gentle grade, though there are a few spots where trestles have been removed, necessitating a steep up-and-down. The unpaved surface is fine for most bikes as long as you’re running tires about 32mm or wider.

I decided to bring my Olympus 35 RD to capture the ride on film. This compact fixed-lens rangefinder from around 1975 boasts a sharp F.Zuiko 40 mm f/1.7 lens and shutter priority for easy shooting. And I wanted to capture the vibrant colors of the landscape, so I opted for slide film. I had some expired but cold-stored Kodak Ektachrome 200 from a reliable eBay seller. (I don’t know when it expired, but it was at least ten years ago, as Kodak discontinued this stock in 2011.) Shooting expired slide film can be a crapshoot, but I got lucky with other cold-stored Kodak slide film before, so I was hopeful that I’d get something. (I haven’t had the same luck with expired Fuji slide stocks.)

Shooting this 36 exposure roll of film went pretty quickly, even though we only rode eight miles (13km). What can I say, I love this landscape! And since the Olympus 35 RD is small, it fits easily into a pouch on my handlebars, so grabbing the camera to take a picture was pretty easy. I sent the roll off to my local lab (Citizens Photo) and a few days later I got some beautiful images. Here are eight of my favorites.

Thanks for reading! -Shawn

For more photos from my Deschutes River Trail Trip, click here.

And here’s more photos from this Eastern Columbia Gorge trip.

For more of me on the internet, click here.

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10 thoughts on “8 Frames Of The Deschutes River Trail With An Olympus 35 RD And Kodak Ektachrome 200 – By Shawn Granton”

  1. Great shots from very familiar surroundings. I’m from the metro area as well. I just feel compelled to correct you. It’s pronounced dee-shoots! Sure sure, I know , kreek vs Krik. It’s just I’ve only ever heard dee-shoots, but then it could just be my red neck country leanings. We really live in Canby- right at the outer boundary of the Portland metro area and not actually in town at that. Heck I haven’t been in downtown Portland since 1994!

    1. I haven’t heard it pronounced Dee-shoots, at least I don’t think I have. But it can be a regional thing.
      Incidentally, I was just in the edge of Canby a few weeks ago!

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  3. Thanks for this. I have to go there. A note on the bike: Brooks (?) saddle, shellaced cotton bar tape–love it. Quite Rivendellian.

  4. Jay Dann Walker in Melbourne

    A very inspiring read. I was in Portland many, many years ago and my local friends there took me to this area for a day trip. It was energetic even in my much younger days, but memorable. I still have the slides, taken on Kodachrome. I must dig them out and relive these happy moments (my friends no longer live in Oregon).

    We Aussies love to do the same, and we often go out exploring the wonderful and unique Down Under landscape whenever we can escape from the Big Smoke (as we like to call our cities). After all, not for nothing is my family name a synonym for “trekker”…

    Whenever I opt for film, I take along a Contax G1 (one of four I own) with either a 28/2.8 Biogon or the legendary 45/2.0 Planar, both exceptional lenses. The G1 is portable and easy to use, and while not technically a rangefinder camera, it focusses quickly and to the exact point.

    If MF is my choice for more reflective (‘static’) landscapes, I take a Rolleicord with a 16 exposure kit, a Zeiss Nettar dating to the 1950s, or an equally venerable Voigtlander Perkeo I. Excepting the ‘cord, all the others easily fit into a (admittedly big) coat pocket with room left for film, a lens hood and unless I’m feeling adventurous (or using the G1), an old Weston meter.

    From Dann in Melbourne, Australia

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