Friday, September 23, 2011

A Day in The Life of Alcatraz

Another semester at Merced College with a great instructor means I'm knee deep in another photography project.  It could have been easy ... I voted for easy with "Weeds Made Beautiful" ... but unfortunately my "great" instructor said "What???  You know I don't like flowers!!"   (???????)   Okay, so since I'm not too creative, I reverted to the list I have been keeping just in case.  A Day in the Life of Alcatraz it is!!  I scheduled a model, bought the tickets, packed all the gear I thought I would need, and the day before the model cancelled.  I can still go and spend a lot more money to end up with no useable pictures, or I can lose the cost of the tickets.  I didn't go.

Two weeks later, we're off to San Francisco via truck, bart and taxi to Wharf 33 where you take the boat to the island.  The funny thing is that the island is free ... it's the ferry you have to pay for.  I have my list of shots I want to try and tick off the first two quite handily.
I purchased a pair of handcuffs for this shoot and forgot to take them with me.  Probably a good thing because they have metal detectors before you get on the boat.
Once on the island, you are free to roam about at your leisure and can take any returning boat.  Earphone tours are available which tell great stories and give you lots of information on points inside and outside the cell block.  I was so fascinated with the buildings and grounds as far as photography, that I really had to concentrate on shooting just the project.
As you can see, all the images have been desaturated for effect.  At this point the project has evolved slightly to become the breakdown of the individual as time continues to pass.  From this point on, the prisoner in the image will begin to fade, as does his identify and his self confidence.  This may become a problem, as it requires a tripod which is usually frowned upon in areas such as this.  I'm hoping I can sweet talk them into letting me use it for the project.  Another problem, although you don't see it in these images, there are literally hundreds of people milling around.  I have to say they were extremely patient  while they stepped over me since I was laying on the floor for most of the shots.  Here he begins to fade.  You take a very slow exposure, push the button and yell "RUN" at the same time.  The model leaves and the lens stays open for another second or two ... resulting in a ghost-like appearance.  Onlookers think its hilarious!!!
Although I actually got seven useable images (amazing for one trip), I'm returning to Alcatraz this Sunday for another all day session in order to get the ghost images with a tripod.  Wish me luck!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment