San Francisco, CA – Alcatraz (HDR)


I have been watching the new show called Alcatraz. Cool show. I heard today that ever since the show started, tourists think there is a special “bat cave” room under the jail and have been wandering off the tours in search of it. No such room is there. Any prison is a great place for HDR. This one has tons of tourists so people dodging is the biggest issue.

Talke Photography Settings:
Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4.0
Setting: Aperture Mode
Focal Length: 12.0 mm
ISO: 200
Exposure: HDR 7 Exposures (+3 to -3)
Aperture: f/8
Gear: Tripod
Post Process: Adobe CS5, HDR Efex Pro, Coloro Efex Pro, OnOne Software Photo Tools 2.6

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San Francisco, CA – Alcatraz (HDR)

Here is another photo from Alcatraz.  This angle is a classic technique used when lots of people are walking around you.  LOL  Look up and take a upper angle view! Actaully not bad!  This is one tough place to find a shot without tourists involved.  Just use your brain “cells”.  I’ll admit, I did get a few HDR’s here…so it was worth the trip!   For some reason I need to watch that Sean Connery movie…The Rock!  

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 24.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza
  • 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

    San Francisco, CA – Alcatraz Island (HDR)

    After many many visits to San Francisco I finally decided to take a tour of Alcatraz.   I used Alcatraz Criuses.  From the pier you have to take a ferry over to the island.  Once you buy a ticket (around $26) you wait in line for the next ferry to arrive or load.  It took me about 30 minutes to get on board.  Once on board it is 5-10 minute cruise to the island.  The ferry has drinks and food on board as Alcatraz only has souvenir stores.  When you arrive you meet at the entrance for a 5 minute meet and greet…rule and regulations speech.  Welcome the the Rock!!  Then you are on your own!

    The main objective of the island is the jail cells.  From the pier it is a steep (very steep) 15 minute hike!  Beforehand they tell you it is like climbing a 13 story building.  With all my gear on my back…it wasn’t too bad.  I arrived and there were lots of people.  Luckily it was late afternoon and the last ferry was at 6:10 PM.  So I stuck around a bit and waited for the main cell area hallway to be clear…and this is the shot above.  It is kinda cool as it was my first trip ever to see a jail cell.  They give you headphones at the island if you want an audio tour.

    It is a small place with only a few area to see as they keep you off most if the island due to wildlife.  It was fun seeing the famous inmates pics on the wall (from the web):

    Robert Stroud, who was better known to the public as the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942. He spent the next seventeen years on “the Rock” — six years in segregation in D Block, and eleven years in the prison hospital. In 1959 he was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri (MCFP Springfield). Although called “The Birdman of Alcatraz,” Stroud was not allowed to keep birds while incarcerated there.

    When Al Capone arrived on Alcatraz in 1934, prison officials made it clear that he would not be receiving any preferential treatment. While serving his time in Alcatraz, Capone, a master manipulator, had continued running his rackets from behind bars by buying off guards. “Big Al” generated incredible media attention while on Alcatraz though he served just four and a half years of his sentence there before developing symptoms of tertiary syphilis and being transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in Los Angeles.

    George “Machine Gun” Kelly arrived on September 4, 1934. At Alcatraz, Kelly was constantly boasting about several robberies and murders that he had never committed. Although this was said to be an apparent point of frustration for several fellow prisoners, Warden Johnson considered him a model inmate. Kelly was returned to Leavenworth in 1951.

    Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz arrived in 1936. He was not a model inmate, constantly fighting with other inmates. He also spent the longest time on Alcatraz island, serving nearly 26 years. He was sent to Alcatraz on convictions for worse crimes than any other inmate, though surprisingly he never once attempted an escape.

    James “Whitey” Bulger spent 3 years on Alcatraz (1959–1962) while serving a sentence for bank robbery. While there, he became close to Clarence Carnes, also known as the Choctaw Kid.

    Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson, the Godfather of Harlem, an African-American gangster, numbers operator, racketeer, bootlegger, in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the early 20th century. He was sent to Alcatraz in 1954 and was imprisoned until 1963. It is believed that he was involved in the famous escape that became legend involving Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin.

    Mickey Cohen worked for the Mafia’s gambling rackets and was charged with tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years in Alcatraz Island. Two years into his sentence an inmate clobbered Mickey with a lead pipe, partially parallelizing the mobster. On his release in 1972, Mickey returned to live a quiet life with his old friends.

    Arthur R. “Doc” Barker the son of Ma Barker and a member of the Barker-Karpis gang along with Alvin Karpis. In 1935, Barker was sent to Alcatraz Island on conspiracy to kidnap charges. On the night of January 13, 1939, Barker with Henri Young and Rufus McCainattempted escape from Alcatraz. The attempt failed and Barker was shot and killed by the guards.

    The history is great.  I’ll have more shots soon.  So was it worth the 3 hours and $26.00?  Hmmm…not so sure.  To me it was kinda a been there done that visit.  Not great, but something to see and do if you have time or are interested.  I did not run into Sean Connery….oh well!

    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/8.0
    • Gear:  Tripod
    • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza