Exploring Astoria, Oregon – Part 1

Map route from Portland to Astoria, OR
Map route from Portland to Astoria, OR – Green

As part of our “hike while you still can” regimen, my wife and I decided to schedule a hiking vacation along the coast of Oregon and then on to Crater Lake for September, 2017. Even before we landed at Portland International Airport, we could smell fire in the airplane. We knew it wasn’t the Boeing, but the fires breaking out all over Oregon which tainted the air.

We retrieved our luggage and made a beeline for the car rental counter. After dusting the ash off of our suitcases and getting the trunk of the car packed, we headed toward the Oregon coast and the town of Astoria.

Astoria is a river town sharing space along the Columbia River and it has the requisite trappings of a riverside town. Our hotel was just yards from a shipyard with a number of ships and boats in a variety of conditions. The sun was setting and I was tired, but I couldn’t resist the photographic opportunities. I took my Fuji X-T2 and snapped just two pictures.

Shipyard along the Columbia River, Astoria Oregon
Shipyard along the Columbia River

A better image of the boat above appears in my previous post Fuji X T-2: The Magic of Beginnings. We enjoy walking around towns and discovering the variety of shops and sights. As we explored the streets the next day, the reminders that this was a fishing and river town were abundant.

Salmon-themed trash can - Astoria, Oregon
Salmon-themed trash can

The antique shops, cafes and other stores proudly adorned their windows with sailing memorabilia and accessories. There were a number of “general” decorative touches along the sidewalks as well.

Bicycle planter along 12th Street - Astoria, Oregon
Bicycle planter along 12th Street

Our first major stop was the Garden of Surging Waves. This was a small, inner city park celebrating Astoria’s Chinese heritage dating back to the days of John Jacob Astor. Interestingly, “The Chinese written characters for the words ‘surging wave’ are also used to express hardship and struggle — experiences shared by many of America’s early immigrant groups.” *

* Read more about the Garden of Surging Waves and HERE.

We entered the garden, part of Astoria’s Heritage Square project, through the Moon Gate which appeared to be the main entrance although there are a number of entryways. The ironwork was bold and attractive.

Traditional Moon Gate entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional Moon Gate entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves

The ironwork not only serves as an entry, but also a story screen. There are a multitude of quotes and phrases related to the experience of the Chinese families and workers who helped to build the town of Astoria.

One touching quote appearing in the picture below, across two vertical sections, reads:

“Grandma said that Dad was so sick on the boat from China that he would have been fed to the fish if he had died. Now a seafood lab is named after him for the fish feed that he and his team developed.”

Part of a story screen near the entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Part of a story screen near the entrance to the Garden of Surging Waves”

There are granite columns carved with traditional dragon, Chinese cloud and ocean wave symbols.

Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves

The columns hold a series of wooden beams which in turn serve to frame a colorful stained glass crown-like structure. Although the day was grey, the sun did try to poke through as we stood in the open air pavilion.

Circular glass artwork at the central pavilion at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Traditional dragon columns of the central pavilion

Further investigation led us to a large cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner which depicts characters in a story about a mythical dragon and a wise monkey. You can read about the statue and myth HERE. This was our last stop in the garden before we headed for 11th St. and more discoveries.

Cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner at the Garden of Surging Waves - Astoria, Oregon
Cast bronze lantern in the style of an incense burner

This was just a small portion of our day exploring Astoria. JBRish.com will soon have more stories about Astoria and other adventures in Oregon.


Read more Hiking and Exploration posts HERE


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017

Fuji X T-2: The Magic of Beginnings

“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” — Meister Eckhart

You might have read about my near horror story in a previous blog post, Fuji X T-2: When Support Helped Save a Vacation, but all turned out relatively well after the close call. This was my first major expedition with a nearly brand new Fuji X T-2 and I was anxious to see how it would perform.

I haven’t had a “state-of-the-art” camera in nearly fifty years. I had been using point-and-shoots with only a moderate interest in photography. I was generally a documentarian. I am now embarking upon the development my creative eye.

“You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

When we arrived in Portland, Oregon, the air was acrid and ash was falling from the sky and landing on our luggage due to the surrounding wildfires. We acquired an automobile and headed toward the coast. By the time we arrived in Astoria, OR, the sun was low in the sky; a saturated light grey. Little did we know that the coast was often grey and/or foggy.

One of my favorite photographs from this trip, was the very first one I captured in Astoria at the end of our first day. Our room was very near the Columbia river and the Megler Bridge. The area was, therefore, a waterfront and had many of trappings expected in such an environment.

As I looked outside the window of our room, I could see several boats that were in disrepair and in dry dock. The lure of these boats was probably the same as that which brings photographers to abandoned buildings. These boats were old and may not have been “sea worthy,” but they had character.

The sun was getting lower by the minute. I grabbed the camera and walked to the area with the retired Ladies of the River. One boat in particular caught my attention because it was stately even when adorned with decay.

I took a couple of pictures with the hope that I could capture the essence of the evening and the feeling I had standing next to this once dignified, yet working class boat.

A river boat in dry dock along the Columbia River, Astoria, OR

My first attempt with the X T-2 on our trip to the Oregon coast


File Name: DSCF0045.RAF
Capture time: 5:24:45 PM
Capture date: September 5, 2017
Exposure: 1/750 sec @ f/5.6
Focal Length: 18mm
ISO: 100
Fujifilm X-T2
Lens: 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS
Edited in Lightroom

Fuji X T-2: When Support Helped Save a Vacation

Picture of boat in OR out of focus

On my very first major trip with my new Fuji X T-2, I had a problem. It is hard to tell, but the boat is not in focus.

We recently returned from a hiking trip along the Oregon coast. This was in the planning stages for well over a year and it was the main reason, I purchased my new camera, a Fuji X T-2. JBRish followers know that I have taken the camera out for a few spins, but I did not have extensive experience with it prior to our departure.

I don’t recommend this protocol, but I live in the Sonoran Desert where summer temperatures are quite hot so I only made a couple of forays with the new camera. Naturally, I had plans to take other cameras to serve as a back up in case disaster hit and I couldn’t use the X T-2.

You might think that the word disaster is an overuse of the term, but for a photography hobbyist with their first advanced camera, disaster can come in many shades and so I needed to be prepared and glad I was to have made such plans.

After an initial, very brief evening walk to take a couple of photos (more about that in a later post), I was anxious to begin our walk around Astoria the next day to take some snaps with the new camera. Unfortunately, the weather had not improved and the day remained completely overcast and grey. Not great for photographs, but I wanted some photos for the blog and I hoped to concentrate on some subjects that were not too sunlight dependent and would allow me to write about this part of our Oregon experience.

Picture of birds on the beach in OR out of focus

Nothing appears to be in focus even though I used a very small aperture, i.e. f/14 (+/-).

I took a number of photographs, but in doing so, I must have pressed a function button or something. The almost brand new Fuji X T-2 stopped autofocusing. I believe I was trying to use the AEL or AEF buttons and I might have pressed some strange combination that included other buttons as well. I just don’t know. what I did know was the autofocus would no longer work. The green square did not snap into place as I half-pressed the shutter button and was AWOL for many attempts. As you might imagine, this was very disconcerting.

I tried using manual focus and focus peaking, but with the little experience I had with the new camera, this was not much help either. I continued to try to use the X T-2, off and on, but I could tell the camera was not focusing accurately most of the time.

I relied on my other cameras from this point forward. I did have the X T-2 reference manual and user’s guide for the camera. I began to change or modify settings that had taken me hours to initially configure. With trial and error and reading the manuals, I still could not get the camera to respond appropriately.

My thoughts were: 1 – Did I royally mess up something and break the camera?, 2 – Will I need to send it in for repair? and 3 – Is there any way to get the X T-2 back in working order for the remainder of the trip?. Remember, this was my very first day of our hiking/walking vacation down the coast of Oregon and then to Crater Lake.

Since we were in the middle of our exploration of Astoria, I put the Fuji into the bag and decided to stick with my other cameras for the remainder of that day. This was my backup plan which would still provide good documentation of our day’s experiences.

The next day we were off to hike in the state parks along the shore. Once again, I took the Fuji with me trying to use it a couple of times with no more success than the previous day. What was I to do? There was more than a week left of our trip and I wanted to use the new camera.

Picture of ship in OR out of focus
The ship was not in sharp focus. Take it from me, the letters on the ship are blurry.

We often knock those companies that don’t put the consumer first, but rarely do we read or hear stories of those manufacturers who treat their customers well and provide resources to help them use their products. Well, kudos to Fuji!

I called Fuji’s help line from the car at the state park. It was rainy and drizzly. I was put on hold for a while, but it seemed like forever. In reality, it was only a few minutes. Then Steve answered the phone and listened to my situation. We checked the settings I had which seemed fine to him as they did to me. Understanding that we didn’t want to waste time, Steve offered a solution I had also considered.

We decided to reset the camera back to the default settings. Once we accomplished that, he instructed me to take a few photos, check that the autofocus was working and review the pictures to see if they were recorded appropriately.

Sure enough, the camera was back in order and seemed to be working as desired. I thanked Steve and was glad that I could easily call Fuji and get this assistance. I am glad to report that the camera worked well for the rest of the trip and I was very careful to avoid inadvertently pressing function buttons, etc.

Thanks to Steve and to Fuji for helping to salvage my photographic exploration of Oregon. It was a great relief!

The picture below is the first picture I snapped after the camera reset. It was raining so we were sitting in the car while I was on the phone. The green focus box was back on the screen and the camera was working as anticipated.

Picture of car after focus was reset


  • I was prepared for this mishap by bringing several cameras on the trip; especially since the Fuji was so new to me. It would have been total disaster (perhaps) had I relied solely on the X T-2.
  • On prior hiking/photography trips, I had taken a computer with me to examine the photographs each evening to assure that the camera was working correctly. I didn’t bring the computer this time, but wish I had.
  • It is important to support companies like Fuji that provide resources to help their users resolve issues as easily as possible. No company is perfect, but obviously some are more consumer oriented than others. I have read about Fuji’s support of their base for a couple of years and this helped to confirm my choice of selecting one of their cameras.
  • Until you learn how to use the camera very well, be sure to have access to the reference manual and user guide. I made sure I loaded copies on to my iPhone and iPad. This provided a sense of comfort and helped me several times during the trip when I needed to review settings or procedures.
  • Modern cameras are actually computers and they are not infallible. It is nice to have a number of function buttons, wheels, dials, etc., but they need to be “respected” and understood.
  • The X T-2 can save custom settings. Saving the settings so they can be easily restored at a later date would be a step in the right direction when assisting in recovering from a problem like the one I encountered.

NOTE – This article is not aimed at knocking other camera manufacturers and to suggest that they do not offer the same type of support that I received from Steve at Fuji. They very well might the same service(s), but I have never had experience with them.

What I am trying to explain is how well Fuji handled my immediate problem and to extend special appreciation to Steve who made sure my camera was back in working order before he ended the call.

Thanks again Steve and thank you Fuji!

Read more photography posts HERE


All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017