Pennsylvania Shuffle…Philly

After a wonderful, albeit brief, visit with friends and family in the Burgh, we headed to Philadelphia to see more friends and some of the local sights.  I had heard about Eastern State Penitentiary and Graffiti Underground from reading Denise Ippolito’s blog and was anxious to check it out for myself.

Eastern State Penitentiary was built in 1829 and continued to operate until 1970 when it was abandoned for the next eighteen years and left to fall into a wonderful state of disrepair.  It is now open to the public for tours or to wander around at your leisure.  Some areas are being restored while others are blocked off due to hazardous conditions.  We spent several hours exploring the nooks and crannies that were open.  It’s a fantastic location for a photo shoot.  They are very photographer  friendly with a small fee to bring your tripod in and they even open up for special tours.

I liked the solitary feel and body language of this tourist taking a break.  It fits the mood of the location and all the graphic lines lead your eye to the lone person who is nearly centered in the frame…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f16 @ 1/8 sec

 

There are so many repeating shapes, graphic patterns and leading lines to be found.  In order to make this image I had to place my lens right up against the chain link fence and open my aperture to make the fence disappear and be able to photograph the closed off cell block…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f4.8 @ 1/8 sec

 

I was drawn back to the dentists chair in one of the cells several times, working different compositions considering both B&W and color as possible final output.  Back in the digital darkroom I worked some magic using NIK Color Efex Pro 4 and came up with the image that I felt best reflected my vision of the scene…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f16 @ 1/3 sec

 

A stop at the 30th Street Station where Frank began his illustrious career at Amtrak to see if anyone from the “good old days” was around proved that time moves on and things change as there was no one left.  I did take time to make a fisheye image of the interior of the station to add to my growing portfolio of train station images…

Nikon D4, AF 16mm 2.8D Fisheye ISO 200 f22 @ 1/7 sec

 

Philadelphia is filled with history and along with that history are wonderful old buildings and churches.  I love photographing the old buildings reflected the the glass of modern skyscrapers.  In Philly, there is no shortage of subjects to work…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f22 @ 1/30 sec

 

Following the directions I had pulled off the web, we headed to the Graffiti Underground, an abandoned pier with cement pilings covered in graffiti in an industrial part of Philly.  After about a five minute walk we arrived at the site and I began making some images…

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f22 @ 1/7 sec

 

Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR ISO 200 f32 @ 4 sec

 

Unfortunately, there was a shady character who followed us acting suspicious, ducking behind the pilings when we looked up and yet making it obvious that he was there so, we packed up and headed back to the car more concerned with our safety than photos.  It really is a wonderful location that I would love to re-visit and take time to explore the photographic possibilities but, personally, I didn’t feel comfortable with only two of us there.

All too soon we were packing up and heading back home with fond memories and new images for the files.  A quick turnaround in Portland and I’ll be heading back to Alaska to photograph coastal brown bears during the salmon run.  Stay tuned.