The parents of one of Katie Rose’s buddies at pre-school are architects who just bought a classical Berkeley shingle house from the early 1900s. In recent years this grand house has suffered from neglect, and been used for single room occupancy. So it’s a good thing that the new owners are architects who know what they are doing and can reverse the damage of the years.
When the owners gave me to permission to shoot inside the house before renovation began I was very excited because I love the sense of possibility in empty architectural spaces. Once a building has been restored—and worse yet, furnished—this sense of potentiality is gone forever. It is lost in the specifics of a single sensibility of decorating aesthetic (if one is lucky) or just cluttered (if one is not).
This shot down the stairwell had the usual difficulties with getting the camera in position—although this aspect wasn’t quite as treacherous as the stairwell in the Edificio Cuervo Rubio in downtown Havana, Cuba where I had to perch on top of a toilet tank (the full story is in The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations).
My life was made a little more difficult by a contracting gentleman (I think he was quoting a price for shingle repair) who kept putting his notebook down on one of the newel posts as I was shooting!
This image is a blend of seven exposures. I used my 10.5mm fisheye. Each exposure was at f/22 and ISO 100. I used a tripod throughout, and shutter speeds with durations from 1/60 of a second to 2 minutes. I blended the exposures to create an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image by hand, and also using Nik HDR Efex Pro. When I converted to monochromatic my hope was to create an effect that was almost Escher-like in feeling, although without the surrealism of many of Escher’s famous etchings.