Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.


Odd as it may sound, I have always thought that stairwells would make interesting photos. Depending on where they are and how they are lit they can appear a bit creepy or menacing. Anything that conveys a feeling is always a good candidate for a photo.

Despite the above, there were several factors that kept me from taking photos in a stairwell before. For one thing, depending on the lighting, the contrast range can be quite high. Thus, I thought the image would best be made using several exposures with an HDR technique, which I was not using until recently. In addition, someone with a tripod and camera blocking a stairwell is sure to attract attention....I could just hear the security guards running, particularly after my prior run-ins with guards.

Recently, however, I decided it was time to give it a try. And the perfect place seemed to be at work. That way, if the guards came a-running at least I had an ID and they would know that I worked there and who I was. So I picked a time, very early on a weekend morning when I had to be at work anyway, and set up the tripod in the stairwell and took some shot sequences for HDR processing. Here is what I came up with:

Stairwell I
Copyright Howard Grill

I actually think that a series of different stairwells in various buildings with and without people might be interesting. But then we are back to that whole security guard thing........