Victor Wasilov  

Kindness of Strangers by Victor Wasilov

September 2020 - Kindness of Strangers

September 2020 - Victor Wasilov


About the Image(s)

Kodak V530 5 MP Camera with a 36-108mm f2.8-4.8 lens
f/4.5 @ 1/800, ISO 80 Focal length 6.2mm

This is an image of the NE corner of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA. It opened in 1829, so I decided to give it an antique look. Adjustments included burning in the sky and dodging some of the buildings. I agree that it is not the most interesting image or subject, but the prison has an interesting history. It was visited by Alexis de Tocqueville and Charles Dickens. Both Willy Sutton and Al Capone were jailed here. Unlike the other prisoners, Al Capone’s cell was decorated with paintings, carpet on the floor, and a cabinet radio receiver. He spent eight months in this facility. Then there was Pep the dog, inmate number C-2559, who was sentenced to life imprsonment for allegedly killing the warden’s wife’s cat.

My interest is sentimental. The left wall in the image is the northern wall. On the other side is a dirt area approximately the width of the dirt road in the image. We lived accross the street, second house from the corner. The dirt area by the prison wall was our play area. The field on the right in the image is where the inmates played softball and football. They handmade the softballs and the pigskin footballs. The trustees would come out on work detail to clean around the outside of the prison walls. We got to know a few of them and would talk with them during their work detail. As the friendships grew so did their kindness. Every so often they would tell us to be out by the North wall at a certain time and day. On the appointed day either a football or softball would come flying over the wall. Their gifts to us. In 1961 the prisoners rioted. Shortly there after we moved to the suburbs, It took over 60 years before I could see the other side of the prison wall, but the memories of their kindness have remained with me to this day. The prison has a website if you would like to know it’s history which begins with Benjamin Franklin’s concept of a more humaine prison system.

4 comments posted

Henry Heerschap   Henry Heerschap
Wonderful story and interesting treatment of an otherwise unremarkable photo. I like where you were going with the antique look, but I think you went too far. In my version, I lightened it up quite a bit, then darkening the edges. Finally I took it into Nik Color Efex Pro and applied Glamor Glow to soften the image a bit.   Posted: 09/07/2020 15:14:12
Comment Image

Peter Hornbostel   Peter Hornbostel
Victor, I do not know your story, if you wouldn't have explained it. just looking at the picture, the scene is dark and threatening - a typical lost-place-picture. You put it in the right light: You took away the green (the color of hope). This gives a kind of sadness. The fram gives the feeling of the spy - watching with a distance. Very good picture idea!   Posted: 09/07/2020 18:07:45

Jim Hagan   Jim Hagan
Victor, many thanks for your wonderful story. I like the mono version much more than the color image. My only suggestion would be perhaps a little more contrast.   Posted: 09/13/2020 18:37:01

Allen Tucker   Allen Tucker
Photographs have unique power to keep our memories intact.   Posted: 09/19/2020 15:04:43


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