San Francisco, CA – Lockdown at Alcatraz (HDR)

San Francisco is home to tons of photographic locations.  One cool place is Alcatraz.  Although it is tough to take photos without tourists, look and you can find it!!  I was just there a few weeks ago.  I walked through the main jail cells and waited and waited for people to disperse.  Tough!  I kept walking around looking and searching.  The little closed off section was perfectly quiet!  Ugh!  Closed off via gate.  I thought, why not include the gate.  My first attempt the camera wanted to focus on the gate as it was the closest focal point.  I checked it out…not so great.  Why not use the front gate as foreground bokeh and focus on the cells!   I set my focus to manual and set the shot in motion.  Came out cool!

Although I was not impressed by the visit to Alcatraz….I did get a few shots and can say…been there done that!   It is a bit odd to think of all the bad people that lived here for some time.  At the Alcatraz Gift Shop you can grab books, photos and all sorts of goodies on the Rock!!!    Here is a strory from the web of an escape attempt….

During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoners had ever successfully escaped. 36 prisoners were involved in 14 attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught, six were shot and killed during their escape, and three were lost at sea and never found. The most violent occurred on May 2, 1946 when a failed escape attempt by six prisoners led to the so-called Battle of Alcatraz.

On June 11, 1962 Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin successfully carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever devised. Behind the prisoners’ cells in Cell Block B (where the escapees were interned) was an unguarded 3-foot (0.91 m) wide utility corridor. The prisoners chiseled away the moisture-damaged concrete from around an air vent leading to this corridor, using tools such as a metal spoon soldered with silver from a dime and an electric drill improvised from a stolen vacuum cleaner motor. The noise was disguised by accordions played during music hour, and their progress was concealed by false walls which, in the dark recesses of the cells, fooled the guards.

The escape route then led up through a fan vent; the fan and motor had been removed and replaced with a steel grille, leaving a shaft large enough for a prisoner to climb through. Stealing acarborundum cord from the prison workshop, the prisoners had removed the rivets from the grille and substituted dummy rivets made of soap. The escapees also constructed an inflatable raft from several stolen raincoats for the trip to the mainland. Leaving papier-mâché dummies in their cells with stolen human hair from the Barbershop for hair, they escaped. The prisoners are estimated to have entered San Francisco Bay at 10 p.m.

The official investigation by the FBI was aided by another prisoner, Allen West, who also was part of the escapees’ group but was left behind (West’s false wall kept slipping so he held it into place with cement, which set; when the Anglin brothers (John & Clarence) accelerated the schedule, West desperately chipped away at the wall, but by the time he did his companions were gone). Articles belonging to the prisoners (including plywood paddles and parts of the raincoat raft) were located on nearby Angel Island, and the official report on the escape says the prisoners drowned while trying to reach the mainland in the cold waters of the bay.

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4.0
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza