saraascalon
saraascalon

The Gray Mile



Abandoned Cellblock in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Abandoned Cellblock in Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
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6 Comments | Report
Robmossphotography
 
Robmossphotography August 15, 2015
Knew this was Eastern State the moment I saw it...Don't live too far from there it's a great place...Great capture!!!
saraascalon
saraascalon August 15, 2015
Thanks, Robert. It really is an amazing place. I need to get back there soon.
nandicmb PRO+
 
nandicmb September 18, 2015
Congratulations on your Amateur category win in Playing With Geometry Photo Contest!
debbie_packer
 
debbie_packer February 18, 2016
Stunning! I recognized this spot as soon as I saw it. I loved it and wish that I could have stayed longer. It would be an awesome place for a model shoot.
saraascalon
saraascalon February 18, 2016
Thanks Debbie! They actually do open the place up a few times a year for model shoots. I haven't been able to take advantage of it, but it's got to be amazing.
gljonesaz PRO+
 
gljonesaz August 13, 2016
Great shot! I love visiting Eastern State. Do they allow you to go upstairs again? The first time I went (early '90s, maybe?), I had the run of the place. The next year, they had roped off many areas.
saraascalon
saraascalon August 13, 2016
Thanks! Still a lot of areas closed off and others open for timed tours only. The second floor was open in this particular cell block. I can't remember if any others were accessible.
yogeshmalviya
 
yogeshmalviya September 03, 2016
great shot!!
saraascalon
saraascalon September 03, 2016
Thank you!
adavies
 
adavies March 15, 2017
Great image...nicely composed! If you haven't done so already, please consider joining my Beautiful Urbex challenge:)
https:// viewbug.com/challenge/beautiful-urbex-photo-challenge-by-adavies
saraascalon
saraascalon March 15, 2017
Thanks! I'll check out your challenge. :)

Behind The Lens

Location
This is a shot of one of the cell blocks from Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. This institution, the first of its kind in the world, was abandoned in 1971 after 142 years of service and left to decay for years before being preserved in this state and resurrected as a historic site and opened to the public to explore.
Time
This was captured on March 12, 2015 at 12:47pm. While the indoor shoot was not planned around time of day, the harsh noonday sun filtering through the few high windows and skylights did help infuse some light into a otherwise dark, challenging environment.
Lighting
Established around the concept of penitence, this cavernous facility was not built to be bright and cheery, but rather to promote quiet reflection. The cell blocks are lit with whatever natural light seeps in through the sparse windows and skylights. While it does add to the mood, without the aid of bracketed exposures and HDR, the deep shadows and bright highlights present a bit of a challenge. I didn't have the foresight to bracket my shot so I had my work cut out for me in post.
Equipment
This was shot with a Nikon D7100 with the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. Tripod mounted with wireless shutter release. Available light only.
Inspiration
The site is a mecca for photographers. It's difficult to find something there that you're not interested in capturing. But this spot – loaded with texture, light and shadow, and leading lines – was revealed upon a climb up a narrow flight of stairs to a catwalk along the second story, and was particularly compelling.
Editing
Basic processing in Lightroom, then over to Perfect BW to enhance texture and back into Lightroom for dodging and burning to open up the shadows and tame the hot spots.
In my camera bag
I’m a relative beginner to photography (I’ve only been shooting for 2 years) and have a pretty modest kit: Nikon D7100 crop frame body, a handful of decent 3rd party consumer lenses, and one 20+ year old Nikon 35-70mm, f/2.8 that I snagged used and lean on pretty heavily. That and my slow, but sharp, Tamron 70-300mm get me through the majority of shoots. This particular shot was the result of one of my very first forays with the wide angle Tokina. I now carry that around with me all the time, just in case...
Feedback
Tripod, tripod, tripod. I'm notorious for carrying mine around with me and being too lazy to take it out of its bag and set it up. But, in low light situations like this, when a sharp capture is key, you just can't go without it, no matter how steady your hand is. While you're at it, keep your hand off the camera and use a cable or wireless shutter release. Even the slightest vibration caused by pressing the shutter manually can introduce perceptible motion blur. And, if your lens is equipped with a stabilization switch, make sure it's turned off when your camera is tripod mounted or it may attempt to compensate for motion that doesn't exist.

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