Monday, September 16, 2013

Al Capone's Cell at the Penitentiary

Photograph of Al Capones prison cell at the Eastern State Penitentiary by Gary Heller
Al Capone's Cell

black and white photograph of a cell block in a penitentiary by Gary Heller
Cell block

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a historical ruin with quite a history. Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. When the building was erected it was the largest and most expensive public structure ever constructed, quickly becoming a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide. 

Al Capone's Cell at the Eastern State Penitentiary is a marvel in itself and makes one understand how corrupt the officials must have been here as well as the incredible influence Al had wherever he was.
The other cells in the pen basically had a bed, a small pine side table with three drawers and a single stool to sit. During his days here the walls were in better condition and I can imagine it must have looked like a small luxury hotel room, complete with skylight.

If you click on the photo and go to my site, you can click again for a full resolution preview to discover some of the details in here.

Cell Block was shot through a steel gate blocking entrance because of the dangers of the terrible condition its in. Using a tripod and wide angle lens (17mm) I was able to grab 5 shots of varying exposures and blend them to create this black and white HDR photograph.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Devils Haircut in the Demon Barbers chair

A Barbers chair in an old prison cell spooky photograph by Gary Heller
The Barbers Chair

Devils Haircut photograph by Gary Heller
Devils Haircut

This summer I took a tour with a friend of mine to the Eastern State Penitentiary in PA. Paid a reasonable fee to bring the tripods inside with us, and its really a must if you want to do some serious shooting of the scenes inside.

A very interesting place with a lot of history having housed some famous prisoners such as Slick Willie Sutton and Scarface, Al Capone.

Roaming around the cell blocks we came upon this weird and almost surreal sight. An old barbers chair inside one of the dismal and crumbling cells, lit up by a skylight in the ceiling.

When we first saw this, the light was a bit more behind the chair leaving it almost in shadow, but I figured if we came back to it a couple hours later the position of the sun would angle better onto the chair and ultimately make for a better photograph.

Both of these photographs were done with a tripod using 5 exposures blended together to bring out all the detail and dynamic range of this very high contrast scene. I like to edit to achieve a more surreal look to enhance the texture and wonderful patina of this place, and the overall mood.

It reminded me of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber.