HDR Paradise

Al scarface Capone

Chicago’s famous mob boss spent eight months at Eastern State in 1929-1930. His time at ESP was spent in luxury compared to the other inmates  ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is like a candy store for photographers wanting to create HDR images. I felt like I was in HDR heaven on earth when I recently visited the once most famous prison in the US that now stands in ruins. I was in the company of my husband Anthony (which is always a treat for me), Roman Kurywzack from Roamin with Roman Photo Tours, Dr. Nick Palmieri & David Mills. 

We had pre-arranged with ESP personnel, access to cell blocks that are normally closed to the general public and we were pretty excited of the photographic possibilities that were awaiting us. The prison offers such an abundance of highly dramatic subjects to photograph specially for the creation of HDR images. You don’t know where to begin and you certainly do not want to stop.

The cells that once housed Americas infamous criminals like Al Capone and bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton are now green, the paint on the walls are chipped and you will find trees growing inside the cells, all which make for  interesting photography. You will also find many sections which are very colorful and some with wonderful textures. It is also a place that due to the history can evoke certain feelings that can be conveyed thru your photographs.

We will be visiting again next month to photograph additional cell blocks that we did not have access to… due to the “Terror Behind The Walls” show that runs thru Nov. 6 in commemoration for Halloween. On March 20, 2011  Roamin with Roman will be conducting a full day HDR workshop, from capture to output.  I will be co-leading this already half booked workshop. Participants will learn how to properly expose for HDR, composition and guidance on how to best choose your subjects for the best photo ops. They will also learn how to process the HDR images using the most popular softwares and how to give your images different creative looks.

For more info please visit: http://www.roaminwithroman.com/schedule.html

Red Barber Chair

The legendary “Red Barber Chair” at ESP ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

Rows of cells

One of the 15 Block Cells at ESP ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

Erie rows of cells

This is the same block cell as above, photographed from the other side. I applied various filters and techniques to create a different look to this tonemapped HDR image. ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

prison cell block # 5

A view to the entrance of cell block # 5 ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography 


prison watchtower

A view from below to one of the intimidating watchtowers ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

cell door reflected in mirror

Wooden cell door reflected in mirror ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

colorful prison cell

ESP is recognized as a national ‘ruin.’ I simply love the colors & detail that can be captured while photographing HDR’s. ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

forgotten prison cell

One of the many gripping sites at ESP ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

perspective cell block rows

I believe this is cell block # 4. Aside from the HDR’s it’s fun getting creative. ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

dilapidated cleaning mops

ESP is filled with signs of dilapidation. The texture in the walls and sense of abandonment is what caught my eye when I made this photograph. ©2010 Susan Candelario SDC Photography

If you are interested in a short overview of the history of the Eastern State Penitentiary you can visit the following link: A NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK


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