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  • Writer's picturekimjanikphotograph

"Ghosts" at Fort Stevens State Park

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Growing up in Southern Oregon, books become your winter friends. I would hide under the covers with Stephen King and scare myself silly when the wild animals asserted their presence just below my bedroom window. As the years pass, horror movies and scary books have lost their appeal. Ghosts, however, are still a fascination for me. We live in a world where so many places are reportedly haunted. When time allows, I hunt down those locations as beautiful and sometimes unusual backdrops to my photography.

One such location is Fort Stevens State Park in Hammond, Oregon. The fort, named after a fallen local hero, originally guarded the Columbia River during the Civil War. The fort sat quite during World War I but then earned the unusual distinction of being directly fired on by a Japanese submarine during World War II. There are numerous tales of army men who wander the hallways, still on duty after all this time.

On this chilly winter day, however, I had to provide my very own ghosts. Lacking a military outfit, I resorted to simpler clothing as I was more interested in testing the technique. The idea is simple, harking back to the days of film cameras. With enough exposures over the same piece of film (or pixels, in this case), you get a subdued, ghostly effect.

It took me a few tries to get the technique down on the digital camera. The wind was not helpful in my attempts, however, the recent rain and ensuing puddles added to the hushed atmosphere. I did encounter several live people on my visit, most of them curious as to what this strange photographer was doing hauling around all that equipment. This is definitely a technique to revisit in the future.

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