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