Tate Britain’s staircase

One of the by-products of preparing a new talk for a Camera Club is that it very often involves a rummage in the archive to find images that help illustrate a point and which have never before ‘surfaced’. And today’s image is one of those that I had never previously used for some bizarre reason.

The talk titled ‘Observations on a Visual Journey’ got it’s first airing last night at Hampstead Photographic Society. A very friendly club and my talk seemed to go down well. Thanks HPS for such a warm welcome.

_DS79054The image is of Tate Britain’s new staircase. Tate Britain underwent some major alterations that were completed in 2013. The new staircase is the centerpiece of the changes (quote) ‘…descending from the museum’s entrance rotunda into the basement that, with decorative scalloped patterns on its floor and balustrades, has a style hovering somewhere in the 116 years since the Tate’s original building was built’. The Architects are Caruso St John. I believe I detect Art Deco influences. It has a glorious sweep to it.

The staircase is not easy to capture but thankfully on the day I visited I was carrying my ultra-wide wide-angle lens and this image was taken at 16mm (film equiv). It took a while to determine the best place to stand and then I waited patiently until a group descended the stairs. And that one splash of Cerise – icing on the cake.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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20 Responses to Tate Britain’s staircase

  1. shoreacres says:

    Is it hard to navigate that staircase? Just looking at the photo makes me dizzy. On the other hand, a second look made me laugh. It looks like a giant Slinky that’s opened up as it’s dangled.

    You’re right about that splash of color, though. When I put my finger over it and looked at the photo, it’s amazing how much less interesting it was.

    • LensScaper says:

      Red is always a dramatic colour and grabs our attention every time – but of course it can be such a distraction if it’s in the wrong place. I’d never thought of the staircase as constituting a visual problem but then I don’t actually recall using it (what an omission to have to make!

  2. Chillbrook says:

    I’m glad to hear your talk went down well Andy. I had no doubt that your talks would be well received. This is a smahing image. I love the perspective and as you say, that red in the picture is always a plus point to focus the eye.

  3. Nice, Andy. My eye certainly sweeps down that staircase. Would you share the point this photo illustrated in your talk?

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda, I’m happy to explain. It was in a section about ‘How do you shoot’. I was making the distinction between Impulse and Patience. Stressing that most images should be shot at first glance (on impulse) often for the very good reason that we had seen something that had attracted us – a transitory quality of light perhaps – and we might not get a second opportunity. But other images required patience either because we needed to find the right viewpoint or because we were waiting for the composition to complete. In this case I was waiting for people to enter the picture. I was also distinguishing between the static world where the composition is stable and the dynamic world where we see the the possibility, or probability, of something happening that will enhance or complete the picture – and that dynamic element is most commonly people. I’m available to speak, by the way, but the travelling expenses might be a little too much!!

  4. John says:

    I love spiral staircases and they make wonderful photo opportunities. They can be challenging to walk, especially if you use the inside rail… the steps become too narrow. Nice job on the photo… well done.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks John. I know what you mean – I’ve climbed a few in old churches where the spiral is so tight that you can almost get dizzy, and the steps very narrow too. No such problems on this one

  5. oneowner says:

    Interesting post, Andy, and I like your response to Linda’s comment. Sometimes when a scene is dynamic, such as this one, it pays to be patient and continue to “work the scene”, as the pros say.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken. Mostly patience is rewarded, it depends how long you’ve got. Once, I waited a full 40 minutes for the picture to complete, but the wait was easier because I was enjoying a beer at the time.

  6. That is quite a staircase. And I think you captured it in a very interesting way, catching its special architectural qualities. By the way, it must have been fun to talk to the members of a camera club – showing work that hasn’t been showcased before.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much for your comment Otto. I always enjoy the challenge of finding a way to capture a demanding ‘object’. I give the occasional talk – now that I’m retired I have the time – and it gives me an opportunity to share what I have learnt and hopefully inspire a different bunch of photographers.

  7. ShimonZ says:

    a marvelous photograph. Hope you enjoyed the talk.

  8. These sorts of architectural studies remain some of my favorite subjects for photography, and I love how you captured people traversing the staircase in this particular piece Andy. What a wonderful shot!! I am also very glad to hear of your success with your presentation to the camera group, that is a wonderful way to get out and connect with other like-minded photographers and I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the experience. Well done, my friend!!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thank you very much for your comments Toad. In my opinion the people add considerably to the success of this image and I don’t often think that about people in the frame. It’s also good to be able to get out and speak about photography: to share our thinking and what we’ve learned and inspire others.

  9. Len says:

    That is a great museum and that staircase is way cool Andy. I have to get back to London. Maybe next year.

  10. poppytump says:

    Like a nautilus shell 🙂
    Glad you enjoyed presenting your talk Andy , I’m jolly sure it was well received !

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