Philadelphia Graffiti Underground

On December 31, 2010, in Pennsylvania, by admin
Philadelphia Graffiti Underground

Philadelphia Graffiti Underground

This image was taken at a place in Philadelphia called the “Graffiti Underground”.  The area appears to be an abandoned loading pier jutting out into the Delaware River.  The concrete structures look like the support beams for a rail spur.

This is a great location to work on compositions consisting of repeating shapes and bright colors.  There are also a lot of neat textures and small color patterns for close-up and macro work.  The first structure on the pier has larger columns spaced further apart and some rooms with graffiti on three walls.  The second structure has smaller columns placed closer together which make for a different type of composition.  This image was taken near the front of the first area with the larger columns.

The Graffiti Underground is only a 15 minute drive through Philadelphia from the Eastern State Penitentiary.  Two great locations that can be combined into a single day trip from DC.

To find the Graffiti Underground, enter “2225 Richmond St, Philadelphia, PA” in  This address takes you to an industrial warehouse with a road looping behind the back.  The image below shows the satellite picture of the area.  Park where indicated and then walk about 1/4 mile along the path.  If you go north under the interstate there are a lot of restaurants and gas stations.  It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Springfield, VA (with no traffic!).

Eastern State Penitentiary Part II

On December 28, 2010, in Pennsylvania, by admin

Cell Block 9 Mirrors, Eastern State Penitentiary

The images above show the facing mirrors located in Cellblock 9 in the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA.  The image on the left shows both mirrors.  Note the fire extinguisher along the right side.  Not shown are the exit sign and the museum information sign.  These are distractions you need to work around.  The mirrors can be arranged to show the length of the hallway or to focus on the hanging door visible in the left image.

I used the mirrors for the image on the right.  I focused on the portion of the walls just below the two mirrors.  If you did not see the image on the left, my image on the right would appear to be an abstract.  Try to imagine what the right image is without the left image.  Kinda like an M. C Escher image huh?

Next time I will do something to improve the image.  Notice the slight shadows on the upper left edge of the right image.  I find the shadow a bit distracting and would like to get rid of it without doing a lot of photoshop work.  I will take a reflector and try to redirect some light up into that area to get rid of that shadow.

Philadelphia Road Trip!

On December 20, 2010, in Pennsylvania, by admin

Cell 352, Cell Block 9, Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia PA

Two weeks ago two friends from the Northern Virginia Photographic Society invited me on a day trip to Philadelphia.  Our primary destination was the Eastern State Penitentiary.  This prison, located in the heart of Philadelphia, was closed in 1971.  Since then it has essentially been open to the elements.

Because the prison is open to the elements, most of it was closed off for the winter.  Only a single cell block is open to photographers until 15 March 2011.  At that time much more of the prison will be available for photography.  The one cell block we were allowed into offered lots of photographic opportunities.  The flaking paint and general run down nature of the cells makes for some interesting patterns.

The image above shows the top of one of the cell doors.  Back in the day each cell had a steel cage door and another wooden door that slid on rollers.  I found the door to Cell 352 to be a particularly interesting subject.  The various shades of peeling paint and the repeating patterns of the rollers and their mountings captured my attention.

Of particular interest, besides Al Capone’s cell, are two mirrors that allow the photographer to set up some interesting shots down the length of one hall.  I have to clean up those pictures and will post them later.

If you do go visit Eastern Pen, there is a great pizza place about three blocks away.  As you look at the entrance to the prison, go left two blocks to the corner of 24th and Fairmont to Luigi’s Pizza.  Six bucks gets you two LARGE slices of pizza and a soft drink.  Great chow at a bargain price!

Our other destination was the Philadelphia Graffitti Underground.  We only had about 30 minutes of daylight when we got there.  Those pictures will be in the next post!