Here Staircase, Staircase

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England –
June 2019

On our-second-to-last day in London, we set about exploring some areas we had not gotten to before heading off on our Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia trip. One site I particularly want to explore is Tate Modern. I’ve seen two locations within the gallery on Instagram I’d like to try my hand at: the tall, slit windows that cast a striking reflection on the cement floor near one of the entrances, and the spiral staircase.

The slit windows are easy to find and, while it’s a cloudy day without the sun’s rays creating the arresting reflection, I see what I can do. These days Instagram inspirations tend to motivate copying but I’m more interested in seeing what I can do differently. Besides, I’ve always liked a challenge. After a while spent shooting from different angles and heights, I set off to find the spiral staircase.

After perusing a few floors, I come to the realization that I have no idea where it is. I connect to Tate’s wifi and see someone tagging the location as Tate Library, which causes a minor panic. Am I in the wrong place? Where is the Tate Library? Why am I panicking when everyone else tags it as Tate Modern? Who is this nitwit tagging it as Tate Library?

Mild panic over, I try a new approach: If I were designing the gallery and wanted to put in a spiral staircase, where would I put it? Answer: the ground floor. So, I head back down to the ground floor and this time, not being distracted by the slit windows, easily find the staircase. Most images I’ve seen include a solo person in a prime spot in a well composed shot, though I sometimes suspect it’s the photographer’s spouse or friend. I focus more on images without people as I’m more interested in the shadows and curves.

It’s taken me longer than it should have to have taken these photos and I’m sure my wife is wondering what became of me. Then again, she’s in the gift shop and probably in no great hurry to leave.

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