Want to shoot at the Prison where Shawshank Redemption was filmed?

Want to shoot at the Prison where Shawshank Redemption was filmed?

Photo opportunities at the Mansfield Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio
The movie Shawshank redemption was filmed in Mansfield, Ohio in the Mansfield Reformatory.
Last year I made two trips to Mansfield, Ohio to photograph the reformatory where Shawshank redemption was filmed. It is such an interesting place. As a reformatory it was chartered to educate and teach new skills to the inmates in an effort to help them find legitimate work once they were released. Inmates had the opportunity to learn carpentry in the furniture shop, masonry, and numerous other life skills. The prison closed in 1990 and has since been used in numerous movies, most notably Shawshank Redemption in 1994. A small part of Air Force One with Harrison Ford was filmed there in 1997.
HDR image of Ohio Reformatory
Access way “behind the cells” to allow for maintenance of the mechanical systems.

There are public tours of the reformatory available, but tripods are not allowed. Private group tours however are available and tripods are allowed during private tours. I strongly encourage you to find a private tour directed toward photographers and join in. You will have much smaller crowds to deal with and the use of a tripod is paramount if you want to walk away with really great images. I have arranged for just such a private tour on Monday, March 14th from 11am to 4pm. Most people make it a same-day round trip excursion from metro-Detroit area. You can join in for $75. IF you have a friend or spouse that wants to attend but not take pictures they may do so for $12 (cash the day of the tour). Contact us to reserve a spot (248) 608-8563 or [email protected]

Solitary, HDR
This image was shot in the deep recesses of the prison, where I am told you never wanted to end up.

All of the images in this posting were shot as multiple captures and then later blended to gather to create the highly detailed images you see here. This technique is designed to allow a photographer to capture a broader “dynamic range” than one could with a single exposure. High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a contentious subject among many photographers. Mostly because it can lead to very surrealistic images depending upon the software and personal choices made during the post-processing portion of the job. I personally love to shoot and process HDR images because I can create images that simply would not be possible without the technique.

Ornamental metal stairway, HDR image
All metal staircase found in the private areas of the prison where the warden and his family would have lived.

Most cameras will allow you to capture a 3 frame “bracket” of images that will later be processed down into a single image using software. The darkest image should have no overexposed highlights and the brightest image should have good detail the deep shadows. Occasionally it is helpful to have 5, 7 or even more images in the bracket to fully capture the full range of brightness within a scene. The greater the range of brightness, the more beneficial it is to have additional frames in the bracket. If you camera only captures a 3 frame bracket, there is a handy app called Photo Buddy that can aid you in properly capturing larger brackets.

Grungy wall, peeling paint
Newspapers or other reading matter is not permitted


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