Critique Elliptical spiral staircase....

Butlerkid

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"The History of the Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell arrived in Charleston from Bristol, Rhode Island in 1765 and, thanks to extensive contacts in his home colony, established himself as a successful merchant and slave trader. His 1789 marriage to Sarah Hopton Russell produced two daughters, Alicia and Sarah, and in 1808 the Russell family moved to their new townhome at 51 Meeting Street. Accompanying them were as many as eighteen enslaved people who toiled in the work yard, gardens, stable and kitchen. Russell spared little expense in the construction of his home, regarded as one of Charleston’s finest in its era with geometrically shaped rooms, elaborate plaster work ornamentation and formal gardens. The defining architectural feature of the home is the stairway whose “…sweep is broad, treads are deep, and the rise perfectly proportioned and easy of ascent,” according to Nathaniel Russell’s great-granddaughter Alicia Hopton Middleton."

"The home’s graceful, free-flying, three-story staircase is an architectural marvel with each cantilevered step supporting the one above and below it."
On the main floor, there is only about a 8' area from which to photograph the stairway. And, of course, tripods are not allowed. Thus, these were all handheld D850 images. Note the ISO levels...... All processed in Topaz DeNoise AI.

#1 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 9000
_8506043-denoise-X3.jpg
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#2 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
_8506039-denoise-X3.jpg
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#3 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 10,000
_8506040-denoise-X3.jpg
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#4 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 4,000
_8506045-denoise-X3.jpg
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#5 Nikon 14-24 @ 15mm, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
_8506069-denoise-denoise-X2.jpg
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#6 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
_8506072-denoise-X2.jpg
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Wonderful images, Karen! Spiral staircases are difficult to photograph well for several reasons and all of these images work really well for me. I like #5 the best, so much so that I recommend that you return with a young girl in a beige dress sitting on the floor using crayons and her coloring book. (Yes, I realize how unlikely it is that that's gonna happen. :) )
 

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They are marvellous photos. And given the high ISOs, it isn't many years ago that instead of looking wonderful they would have been noisy and therefore disappointing.

(I love cantilevered structures. As a child I was in a house with a cantilevered staircase, but not a beautiful curved one like the one in your photos, a very boring rectangular one. It had 98 steps (being a child, I counted them). There are modern houses with entire rooms cantilevered out from the structure. I am at this moment sitting at computers on a huge long desk, a sheet of concerete with an oak top surface, all cantilevered out from the stone wall of the house. No desk legs to get in the way.)
 
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Charleston is our favorite east coast town. Love roaming around with camera in hand. That is an amazing staircase. You did a very good job given the obstacles. My choices are 5 & 6 with 5 since the window is cropped out.
 
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These are wonderful -- must have been difficult to get just right, but you succeeded splendidly!

One thought: given that geometry is a key feature of these images, I suspect monochrome conversions might work well, too.
 

McQ

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"The History of the Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell arrived in Charleston from Bristol, Rhode Island in 1765 and, thanks to extensive contacts in his home colony, established himself as a successful merchant and slave trader. His 1789 marriage to Sarah Hopton Russell produced two daughters, Alicia and Sarah, and in 1808 the Russell family moved to their new townhome at 51 Meeting Street. Accompanying them were as many as eighteen enslaved people who toiled in the work yard, gardens, stable and kitchen. Russell spared little expense in the construction of his home, regarded as one of Charleston’s finest in its era with geometrically shaped rooms, elaborate plaster work ornamentation and formal gardens. The defining architectural feature of the home is the stairway whose “…sweep is broad, treads are deep, and the rise perfectly proportioned and easy of ascent,” according to Nathaniel Russell’s great-granddaughter Alicia Hopton Middleton."



On the main floor, there is only about a 8' area from which to photograph the stairway. And, of course, tripods are not allowed. Thus, these were all handheld D850 images. Note the ISO levels...... All processed in Topaz DeNoise AI.

#1 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 9000
View attachment 1673753

#2 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
View attachment 1673754

#3 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 10,000
View attachment 1673755

#4 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 4,000
View attachment 1673756

#5 Nikon 14-24 @ 15mm, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
View attachment 1673757

#6 Sigma 15mm fisheye, f8, 1/60th, ISO 12,800
View attachment 1673758
These are gorgeous photos, Karen. That lens (and your excellent eye for detail) does an amazing job of showing the artistry in the stairs.
It reminds me of a similar set of stairs I saw in Charleston, SC.
 

Butlerkid

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #13
Wonderful images, Karen! Spiral staircases are difficult to photograph well for several reasons and all of these images work really well for me. I like #5 the best, so much so that I recommend that you return with a young girl in a beige dress sitting on the floor using crayons and her coloring book. (Yes, I realize how unlikely it is that that's gonna happen. :) )
Thank you!!!! Love your suggestion to have a focal point at the bottom of the stairs!
What an amazing construction and ever so well photographed, Karen. Bravo!
Much appreciated, Nick!
Well done! And that is a most impressive staircase.
Thanks so much, Jim!
They are marvellous photos. And given the high ISOs, it isn't many years ago that instead of looking wonderful they would have been noisy and therefore disappointing.

(I love cantilevered structures. As a child I was in a house with a cantilevered staircase, but not a beautiful curved one like the one in your photos, a very boring rectangular one. It had 98 steps (being a child, I counted them). There are modern houses with entire rooms cantilevered out from the structure. I am at this moment sitting at computers on a huge long desk, a sheet of concerete with an oak top surface, all cantilevered out from the stone wall of the house. No desk legs to get in the way.)
Thanks! Interesting architecture, for sure!
love them all-- especially 5 and 6
Appreciate the comments!
Charleston is our favorite east coast town. Love roaming around with camera in hand. That is an amazing staircase. You did a very good job given the obstacles. My choices are 5 & 6 with 5 since the window is cropped out.
We really enjoyed touring both the Nathaniel Russell and Aiken-Rhett houses! TOUGH photography, but the challenges were fun, too!
Beautifully seen.
#5 is a standout!! I would make the sign at the bottom of the steps go away.
Thanks for sharing such wonderful images.
gary
Thanks! You are SO right! That sign needs to go!
Congrats Karen on being chosen for the front page, very well deserved.
Hey, Louie! See......I'll try photographing almost anything! LOL!
These are wonderful -- must have been difficult to get just right, but you succeeded splendidly!

One thought: given that geometry is a key feature of these images, I suspect monochrome conversions might work well, too.
Thanks! Not sure there is enough tonal range in these, but I'll give it a go!
These are gorgeous photos, Karen. That lens (and your excellent eye for detail) does an amazing job of showing the artistry in the stairs.
It reminds me of a similar set of stairs I saw in Charleston, SC.
Appreciate the comments, Glenn. I took 3 lenses with me: 14-24, 15mm and 24-70. That allowed me to take a very small back pack. A couple of times tha 70-200/2.8 would have been nice, but it wasn't worth the extra bulk and weight.
 
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It would be a great monotone image- except I am afraid there are details here that will become obvious and detract from the image in black and white that do not effect it as much in color.
The light square- lamp?- along the right margin will shine like a beacon in bw.
The window frame behind the staircase, as well as the lighting on the floor in the corner I suspect will also detract.
I doubt if there was any other way to shoot this- unless you had complete access and lighting control.
When I am thinking black and white I really worry about backgrounds, anything with a straight or geometric shape that I do not want in the picture, and anything that is lighted that I do not want accented. Yes, I should think about these things in color as well- but they are usually more glaring after the color goes away.
My two cents
Gary
 
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What a fantastic set Karen, masterfully captured. As the others have said 5 is a wall hanger for me.

We spent many weeks in Charleston over the years. The upper stairs were not open then, As someone who understands the craftmanship involved, I truly appreciate the the amazing work. As a builder of unique and complicated stairs, and formed concrete ones popular during the steel and glass architectural style. I kept a set of circular stair books at the ready, hoping to one day work on a simple circular stair. Then computers came along, and such stairs then arrived in a truck. There is often more work in the railings, I once had to hire a craftsman to carve a 16" radius railing descending 2 steps, the marble skirt was also carved in place.
 
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