Small town America: Port Orford, OR by Nigel Rumsey


I have a great fondness for small town America. That eclectic mix of industry, commerce and residence rarely fails to entrance me. One of my longest-held ambitions is to take a few months out and complete a long-term documentary photography project in a small American town. I rather ambitiously see it as a scaled-down version of W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh project, with maybe slightly fewer than his 17,000 images. We spent our holiday in Oregon last year and in a small echo of that ambition while there I tried to document the buildings along US Route 101 in the town of Port Orford.

documentary photography shot of unmarked building, Port Orford, OR

For those who are in a hurry to get somewhere, and who are not flying, US Route 101 has been superseded by Interstate 5, but at one time it was the route along America's West coast. For 1,550 miles it runs near the mighty Pacific ocean.

..... a scaled-down version of W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh project .... slightly fewer than his 17,000 images

Even despite its inter-state scope when it runs through hundreds of small towns it becomes Main Street, the strip onto which stores open their doors. Onto its sidewalks churches open and schools empty, thousands of small General Stores, fast food restaurants and industry trades along its length. When you pull out of Coos Curry Supply in Port Orford it's easy to forget you're on ribbon of blacktop stretching from Port Angeles at the very top of Washington state, a wet two miles from the Canadian border, to Los Angeles in sunny Southern California.

documentary photography shot of Coos Curry Supply a hardware store in Port Orford, OR

On this trip I ran out of time in Port Orford, route 101 was pulling me ever northward, but I'm sure I'll be back to both to Port Orford and hopefully for even longer to some, as yet, unknown small town at which I can point my lens.

documentary photography shot of Chevron gas station, Port Orford, OR

documentary photography shot of gas filling rig, Port Orford, OR

We Are Gravesend flyer by Nigel Rumsey

This week I've started trying to get my We Are Gravesend flyers in as many shop windows and on as many noticeboards around the town as possible. If you're here as the result of seeing one please head over to my project page to find out some more information.  If you'd like to take part please get in touch. The flyer for my We Are Gravesend photography project


Borscht - a project in the making by Nigel Rumsey


This is a test shot for a project I've been thinking about. I was messing with some lighting in preparation to shooting some still life with the Hasselblad. What I hadn't realised (or maybe I'd forgotten) was that the closest focusing distance on the Hassy 80mm lens is 3ft, which is not much use when you're trying to shoot a bunch of beetroot. So this week after a little research and some invaluable guidance from a Filmwasting friend I ordered an 8mm extension tube. Now 8mm may not sound much, but it makes in incredible difference and reduces the closest focusing distance to about 15" (or ideal for shooting a bunch of beetroot).

the ingredients for my borscht recipe

This shot 'Borscht in preparation' (shot digitally) is the kind of thing I have in mind, recipes in their ingredient form. My natural instinct is to shoot in black & white, but I can't help feeling colour is more appropriate here. I'm going to start doing both with Ilford FP4+ and Kodak Ektar, it's usually obvious fairly early in project what's right. I'll let you know how I get on.