Eastern State Penitentiary

Visiting an Historic Jail in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

I may be the only photographer in my area not to have photographed the historic Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In an effort to express my own photographic voice, I tend to shy away from the more popular places for photographers… and this is a very popular place. However, when my friend and amazing photographer, Pat Worley, invited me to join her for a twilight photoshoot event at the old prison, I quickly decided to go. Why not accept the challenge to make images from this place my own? To do this,  I brought along a variety of equipment, including my regular camera, an iPhone, and the new Lensbaby Velvet lens.

Eastern State Penitentiary was built in the 19th century and is currently in a state of duality, an odd state of being restored and left in ruin simultaneously. This must be perplexing for the organization that runs the site because they must find a balance between the income they receive from the photographers that flock there to photograph the ruins and the need to stabilize and restore it as a historic piece of Philadelphia history.

The Barber Chair

This is probably the most photographed artifact in Eastern State Penitentiary. While it is quite a stunning object, the environment it is located in was even more fascinating. I decided to photograph the famous red barber chair with a very wide angle 17mm lens to take it all in. During post processing I toned down the color of the environment  in order to show how this red chair stands out from the room that it is in.

The Barber Chair at Eastern State Penitentiary by Richard Lewis

The Barber Chair by Richard Lewis 2015

The Lensbaby Velvet

I’ll be writing more about my experiences with this innovative new lens soon. Eastern State Penitentiary seems to really suit the dreamy image quality that this lens is designed to create.

Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Block by Richard Lewis

Eastern State Penitentiary Cell Block by Richard Lewis 2015

This Lensbaby Velvet image was additionally processed using Topaz’s Impression software.

The Guard House Eastern State Penitentiary by Richard Lewis

The Guard House by Richard Lewis 2015

iPhoneography

The textures and color of Eastern State Penitentiary is a great environment for iPhoneography or art created with a smart phone. This will be explored further on future visits.

Prisoner's Cell Eastern State Penitentiary by Richard Lewis

Prisoner’s Cell by Richard Lewis 2015

Other Images from the Shoot

Most of the derelict spaces in Eastern State Penitentiary are confined. After all, it is a prison and prison cells are usually not that that big. It was nice to stumble on a large interior ruin.

Collapsed Roof at Eastern State Penitentiary  by Richard Lewis

Collapsed Roof at Eastern State Penitentiary by Richard Lewis 2015

I’m not sure what purpose this room served, or why there is old pottery in there. I kind of liked all the angles caused by the light and walls.

Cell with Pottery Eastern State Penitentiary by Richard Lewis

Cell with Pottery by Richard Lewis 2015

It was an interesting experience to photograph inside of the historic Eastern State Penitentiary. In spite of its popularity, I plan to head back there a few more times to really see what is there.

Enjoy

 

 

The New Jersey Pinelands

Finding peace in a place known as the Pine Barrens

Summer Sunrise by Richard Lewis

Summer Sunrise by Richard Lewis 2015

3 Cedars in the Early Evening by Richard Lewis

3 Cedars in the Early Evening by Richard Lewis 2015

Life has kept me from this blog recently. The one overwhelming event was passing of my Mother-In-Law. She was 92 and in poor health so it was not unexpected. Still, it is always a sad thing to lose a loved one. There were moments during all of this when I felt the need to get away. Fortunately I live in the New Jersey Pinelands so a quick escape into the woods is always near by.

Although anytime is a good time to be out in nature, I find that around sunrise or sunset is by far the most magical. Not just for photography, but to experience that quiet transition from night to day and day to night. These two photographs are from visits to some favorite places when the day cooperated to provide some wonderful light when I needed to be reminded of the beauty all around us.

When people that are big parts of your life and family age and pass away, it is nice to know that nature and our own New Jersey wilderness is here when we need a place to find some solace.

Enjoy

Serving the Cause of History

More from the 2015 New Jersey History Fair. 

It’s been a while since my last post. More on that in the near future. Until then here are some more portraits of re-enactors from various periods of times that played their roles at the New Jersey History Fair in the spring. These folks are from various wars throughout our American history.

The Aid Station by Richard Lewis 2015

The Aid Station by Richard Lewis 2015

A Very Long Day by Richard Lewis

A Very Long Day by Richard Lewis

At Ease In Camp by Richard Lewis

At Ease In Camp by Richard Lewis 2015

Canon Master by Richard Lewis

Canon Master by Richard Lewis 2015

This group of re-enactors played the role of American colonists who remained loyal to the British and took up arms against the revolution.

Loyal to the Crown by Richard Lewis

Loyal to the Crown by Richard Lewis 2015

The Loyalist Fighter by Richard Lewis

2015The Loyalist Fighter by Richard Lewis

The Young Tory by Richard Lewis

The Young Tory by Richard Lewis 2015

Enjoy

Serving the Cause of History, Again

New Jersey History Fair 1863 or 2015?

I attended the New Jersey History Fair as a professional photographer and got great access to historical re-enactors who spend their spare time dressing up in period outfits and Serving the Cause of History. While doing this personal photographic project, I have seen once again, that they are an amazing group with a wealth of knowledge about the time periods they are re-enacting.

Just about all periods of American history were represented at the New Jersey History Fair. Unlike my last experience with re-enactors (I followed them around as they re-staged a battle), this time the re-enactors were set up around the Visitors Center of New Jersey’s Monmouth Battlefield Park. I had to struggle with distracting modern buildings, cars and other “non-period” things in the background.

However, this turned out to be more of a opportunity than a challenge because it forced me to focus on portraits instead of events. I’ve only recently re-kindled my interest in photographing people. That inspiration came from Phil Kneen, an English portrait photographer. He shoots only with available light using simple compositions which reveals his subjects in a raw, but delicate and intimate way.

Because of the large body of work I managed to get that day, I’ll be posting these images in small groups. Because these photographs are so individual, posting this way does justice to those who agreed to be photographed.

The American Civil War

For the blog followers who are not U.S citizens, the American Civil War took place between 1861 and 1865 when the southern states declared their independence from the United States. This prompted a very bloody armed conflict. While some of our published history may state that this was a war to end slavery in the US, in reality, that was a just and fortunate by-product of the war. The main reason for this war was to establish who had the most power in governing. The Confederacy, or southern states claimed the individual states had more power. The Union, which represented the northern states, claimed the federal government did. Of course, as history always goes, there is a lot more to this story. We are very fortunate to have these re-enactors around to tell it.

The Recruit by Richard Lewis

The Recruit by Richard Lewis 2015

General Ulysses Grant by Richard Lewis

General Ulysses S. Grant by Richard Lewis 2015

Artillery Man 1 by Richard Lewis

Artillery Man 1 by Richard Lewis 2015

Artillery Man 3 by Richard Lewis

Artillery Man 3 by Richard Lewis 2015

Artillery Man 4 by Richard Lewis

Artillery Man 4 by Richard Lewis by Richard Lewis 2015

If you knew the things I've seen by Richard Lewis

If You Knew the Things I’ve Seen by Richard Lewis 2015

Again, I have to thank these wonderful people who dress up in old clothing and go out in just about any weather to relive, share and serve the cause of history.

Enjoy

 

Finding Florida

Discovering the Beauty of Amelia and Big Talbot Islands

Although I’ve never been a big fan of Florida, I am there frequently due to business commitments. Maybe it’s the climate, but this state just doesn’t resonate for me visually. Sometimes I wouldn’t even even bring a camera to Florida. Why bring one if there is nothing interesting to photograph, right? This is contrary to my opinion that there is a photograph everywhere you choose to see one, so on a recent trip I decided to find the photographs in Florida.

Big Talbot Island

I spent a lot of time on Big Talbot Island during the early morning hours, sometimes battling sand fleas and mosquitoes, but usually discovering the sense of beauty in this place. Big Talbot Island is slowly eroding into the ocean. In places the beach is littered with dead trees that have fallen down and are now partially buried in the sand. Not far from here is Jekyll Island in Georgia which has a very similar landscape and is very popular with photographers. I had this island to myself in the morning.

Sunrise on Big Talbot Island by Richard Lewis

Sunrise on Big Talbot Island by Richard Lewis 2015

Big Talbot Island in the Twilight by Richard Lewis

Big Talbot Island in the Twilight by Richard Lewis 2015

Florida Trees

When you open your eyes, the photographs start to jump out at you. These three happened on the short walk back to my car from the beach. It is amazing how the light interacts with the thick and lush tropical forest landscape. I don’t know enough about these trees to identify them. Feel free to leave a comment if you know what any of them are.

Shoreline Forest by Richard Lewis

Shoreline Forest by Richard Lewis 2015

Intimate Florida Forest by Richard Lewis

Intimate Florida Forest by Richard Lewis 2015

Old Tree by Richard Lewis

Old Tree by Richard Lewis 2015

Amelia Island

Amelia Island is a tourist destination which is similar to our our New Jersey shore. Just like the Jersey shore, I was attracted to the salt marshes. This photograph practically screamed at me as I was driving by it on the way to a bay side beach to watch the sunset.

Evening on Amelia Island by Richard Lewis

Evening on Amelia Island by Richard Lewis 2015

Finding Florida was a really interesting experience in seeing. I’m looking forward to heading down there again in the Fall.

Enjoy

 

 

The Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania

We came for the waterfalls but found a lot more. 

Ricketts Glen State Park

One of the nicest things in the Endless Mountains is Ricketts Glen State Park. Depending on what trail you take, it is possible to see up to 21 waterfalls. We hiked the 7.5 mile option to see them all. I was also there in the fall to photograph this place with the fall colors in the background.  You can see those photographs here.

Ricketts Glen in the Spring by Richard Lewis

Ricketts Glen in the Spring by Richard Lewis 2015

A Pennsylvania Slot Canyon

One morning I went to Worlds End State Park to photograph the sunrise from one of the beautiful overlooks in the park. While all sunrises are beautiful, the one that morning didn’t really wow me. So I hiked over to investigate something called the “Rock Garden”. This is an interesting set of rock formations with a few little slot canyons. I happened to notice that the course of the early morning sun would line up with one of the little canyons so I got the camera ready.

While slot canyons are cool, this one just doesn’t compare with those stunning canyons out west, even with the sun peaking through. So what this scene lacked in drama I made up for with the lens choice. Fisheye lenses do one thing and they do it really well… Take in an entire scene. The ultra wide field of view and depth of field shows a clear view of the lichen on the rocks that were right next the camera right all the way through to the sun which was a bit farther away. The natural distortion of a lens like this makes a more dramatic composition as well.

Pennsylvania Slot Canyon by Richard Lewis

Pennsylvania Slot Canyon by Richard Lewis 2015

Abandoned Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, especially the rural areas, have had a mix of good and bad economic times coupled with a few environmental disasters.  As a result, the landscape has its share of old and abandoned buildings. This beautiful old, but dying Victorian Italianate farm house is a little more upscale than what we usually found. Luckily there were some well placed clouds in the sky that day.

Old Farm House in the Endless Mountains by Richard Lewis

Old Farm House in the Endless Mountains by Richard Lewis 2015

Down a back road we found an abandoned 2 seater outhouse. That is a structure that should be on the bucket list of every photographer interested in abandoned places.

Pennsylvania Out House by Richard Lewis

Pennsylvania Out House by Richard Lewis 2015

The Endless Mountains were a great place to spend a few days. We’ll head back there again I’m sure.

Enjoy

 

 

Sharing A Spring Day

One nice day in Worlds End State Park

Just Around The Bend by Richard Lewis Worlds End State Park

Just Around The Bend by Richard Lewis 2015

Wandering around Worlds End State Park (You have to love that name) in Pennsylvania we came upon this little bend in a back road and I stopped to make this image. Of all the photographs from that trip, this one makes me smile the most. It simply is a nice little spot on a lovely spring day. I hope it makes you smile a little too.

Enjoy