Philadelphia – UrbEx Underground

On May 3, 2011 by DaniLew

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Normally this time of year, members of the DC/MD/VA photography group travel to the Eastern Shore for a long weekend of spring migration shooting. Well, this year we decided to go north to Philadelphia and shoot some lesser-known but just as memorable city scenes.

Yes, we did the Cherry Blossom trees in Fairmount Park’s Horticultural Center and the spring flowers at both Bartram’s and Chanticleer gardens. We even ran amok in Reading Terminal Market and hid from the rain at the Simeone Auto Museum.

However, the highlights of the trip for me were the visits to Eastern State Penitentiary, the abandoned Mount Moriah Cemetery, and the Graffiti Underground. All three of these places fed my combined addiction to decay, hdr, and infrared photography; I greedily imbibed.

Philly Spring 2011 Shoot - Graffiti Underground (hdr and infrared) - taken with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

Philadelphia area Spring 2011 Shoot with NikonCafe members visit Graffiti Underground

Image above made with a Nikon D200 IR-converted camera and Nikon 18-200 VR lens

Since I still do not like how Adobe Camera Raw handles my NEF files, I open each file in Capture NX2 and perform some basic adjustments. Then I import them all into Lightroom. For the image above, it is a 5-exposure hand-held shot merged into Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro via Photoshop then tweaked in Lightroom with a preset.

5 Responses to “Philadelphia – UrbEx Underground”

  • Really liked this article and pic. How did you handhold for 5 exposures?

    • Thanks. It took me several tries since there was nothing to lean on, but Nik’s HDR Efex Pro aligned it all very well.

  • I’ve bee nthere several times. The graffiti changes almost every day. Nice shot from cross the water though.

  • Great images! Can you please comment on whether 2 older female photographers would safely shoot the underground graffiti?
    Many thanks,

    • Thank you for your kind comment, Barbara.

      To answer your question: As you probably know, the graffiti underground is a dangerous area. We’ve encountered various groups of people from paint-ballers in the midst of a game to guys doing target practice with real guns and ammo to kids cutting school to people just drinking and smoking without a care in the world. The people I photograph with range from 20 to near 70 in age and it’s been no less than 4 of us together at this place, so I would say to take a few more people with you and at least one male.

      Good luck!

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