Most of my time away travelling is spent in pursuit of my objective: making the best pictures I can for my translites. But sometimes I take a detour.
For twenty-seven years of my career as a translite photographer, I dragged around with me a lot of stuff. At least one 8X10 camera body, a really heavy tripod, three serious cases with sheet film holders – one with special adhesive holders for night shots, one or two lens cases, a polaroid processor and film holder, a case with a hundred or so four inch gelatin filters, assorted tiny accessories like the Hasselblad elbow – don’t ask, eight or nine Linhof cable releases, four light meters – two spot – one incident – one color, Schneider high quality loupes, a couple small flashlights, a measuring tape, a folding makeup mirror to see the f/stop settings when the camera was out the window, and a black cloth made by my wife embroidered with my name and made with velcro sewn in to attach to the velcro strip on the camera body. These all fit nicely into nine or ten ballistic nylon honeycomb plastic padded road cases or more when there were multiple cameras and tripods. Minimum of four hundred pounds. And the destination for out of town shoots was almost always going to be a hotel room. (One exception that comes to mind was a tent on the side of a glacier in Prince William Sound.) The main requirement of that room was that it would have a bathroom with no windows and hopefully a large counter so that I could unload and reload my film holders at the end of the day’s shooting. Black tape sealed the door of the bathroom, particularly at the bottom. Those who travel for business know the regularity of hotel rooms. Reasonably comfy, appointed with the necessary, sometimes maddening with marketing a variety of products and services, all at prices unreal except for travelers. But, who is complaining? Not me. Work was good to have and I loved it.
One shoot stands out in my mind today. For the hotel. The skyline was good, too. But just now, I am sharing the hotel interior. We were working in Denver. Our assignment was for skyline work, both in the center of town and by the rail terminal. We were just beyond the 8X10 stage, now working in digital capture. A lot less stuff to shlep. My son Neil was along as a second camera operator for one location where I could not get back and forth quickly across a big roof expanse. He has worked with me on several projects over the years. Chicago, the San Juan Islands, and Point Dume in Malibu come to mind as I think back just now.
Denver is not a big movie town historically. I was told that Perry Mason shot there in the old days. But I rarely got there for translite work. It is a town in transformation now, glorious skyscrapers, a good stadium or two, a great streetcar set-up, funky bars and bookstores, and one old really attractive hotel. Bill Arnold invited me to come to make a couple of backings for the movie called Nowhereland at the time. (Imagine That in release) And we ended up at the Brown Palace. It was the kind of place that had the large interior lobby, heavy furniture, a piano, lots of people watching, and a great little pub. Had a nice chat with the location person one night, hearing out what life was like in Denver and other places she had worked. Just the kind of place that Perry Mason would have met a client, I guess. Or maybe where his PI, Paul, would have overheard a crucial conversation.
The interior attracted me because the open space was surrounded by a beautiful balcony, lit by bulbs in fixtures mixing with suffused daylight from a large skylight. The bulbs were flourescent types trying to pass as “edisons,” making for a bit of green spike in the image, but this worked with the overall gold color scheme. The image I present is one version of the interior, stitched from a few frames, of course. In my ideal world, the bulb detail would have been retained. But I am pretty happy with the image otherwise. There is another version, but the shape does not fit this blog’s presentation format well. One of my favorite hotel interiors.
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