Concrete Stairwell, Natural Light, Long Exposure (38mm vs. 48mm)

Berkeley, CA

Off limits?  Maybe.  But if the door is propped open, there is a good chance I will be exploring what is on the other side.  In this case, the other side and up.  This is the sight greeting me as I climbed the tower of Julia Morgan’s “Little Castle” in Berkeley.

(click through on the image to view a nicely lit stairwell 700px)

Designed by famed architect Julia Morgan (yes, the same one behind the design of Hearst Castle) and built in 1929 as the Berkeley Women’s City Club with over 4,000 members, this building is now partially a hotel and partially residential apartments.  The building incorporates both Moorish and Gothic elements, and considered one of the most complete of Morgan’s architectural visions.

While I had envisioned taking numerous photographs of the rosette-shaped windows with either sunlight streaming in or the windows being lit by lights from within, it is this rather stark concrete stairwell that excites me.  The stairwell is initially lit by windows in the ground floor doors which are blue (shaded) as the courtyard is in the shade.  The next few levels are lit by soft white CFC bulbs mimicking the warm glow incandescent bulbs.  The upper levels are lit by these same bulbs but also by sunlight streaming in from windows.  An original sketch of the club with the tower in the back center is linked HERE.

The relatively dark interior of the stairwell necessitated a long 8 second exposure.  When I initially processed these photos, I was leaning towards the photo below rather than the one at the top of the post.  After repeated flipping back and forth between the two, I am starting to like the slightly wider angle of the top photo (at 38mm).

Berkeley, CA

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, 38mm & 48mm, ISO 100, 8 sec, f/16

Concrete Stairwell, Natural Light, Long Exposure.  Berkeley, California.  November 04, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


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