• MABPhillips Photography

Lodge In – Tales from a Hotel in Quarantine Part 1

In this time of uncertainty, I found myself staying in a the most unusual of places; one which is not accustomed to being quite so still, 52 empty rooms, one restaurant, a dining hall and three meeting rooms: that’s right, I’m in a hotel.

Now I must apologise, for I am new to blogging and two months have passed since we first called this place home but rest assured, I will get you up to pace – ‘we’, being my girlfriend and me.

On account of lockdown, the hotels owner was understandably fearful of vagrants and thieves hence this opportunity to become guardians; simultaneously flying the nest in the process.

Below I have attached photos from my first shoot on the 30/03/2020 (the 3rd of March) about a week and a half after settling in - in which I scoped the place out; unlit hallways, flickering lights and a supposedly haunted conference room, all whilst listening to creepy pasta for good measure.

The kitchen, in the absence of synthetic lights is a shadowy place full mystery with the only light coming from a large aperture in the ceiling. This really cumulated in making a sinister aesthetic full of cool tones, split into two sections: Illuminated and unilluminated. The open cabinet doors only exacerbate the feeling of unease, aiding to the illusion that some unknown ominous entity lurked behind one of the doors – all of which was adding to my heightened sense of fear with creepy pasta trickling sordid tales in my ear, a never ending stream, auto-play commencing when the last one finished …damn you YouTube.

For this project I thought it was the perfect opportunity to test my new old lens, the 24mm Olympus OM Zuiko, which now sits perfectly on my Sony A7 courtesy of an adapter. (take photo and insert here) The clarity of the glass has been proven to be very good, although on inspection of the straight lines there appears to be banding. This, I have been told, is only an issue when the lens is wide open, with the sweet spot being somewhere between f5/6 and f8.

This indulgence in horror seemed to become increasingly anti-productive as I practiced meditative breaths trying desperately to steady myself for a sub 1/30 shutter speed to compensate for poor light; allowing me to not lug a tripod around, my pet hate.

In this photo of the adjourning room the sentiments of the previous shot are present and exaggerated due to the smaller window allowing less light into the kitchen – the large industrial dishwasher looming over me like a dystopian, brutalist monolith and the yellow tubs take centre stage, glowing ominously in the late morning light.

I then ventured upstairs with thoughts of Kubrick’s The Shining and the terrifying twins coming to accost me with their tricycles. I transverse the dark corridors with ears full of cults living next door and interdimensional houses of horrors.

As I was in the kitchen I was drawn to any light and the aperture from which it protrudes. This photo perfectly depicts lighting situation in the absence of any guests. With my first edits, I was really tempted to edit the shadows according to the histogram, but what I was left with was inaccurate depiction of reality. It was only after changing my ethos which attached enthesis to trusting composition, as opposed to post-production. It was also through the examination of Paul Seawright’s, ‘The Forrest,’ in which the illuminated and non-illuminated were absolutes – this imbued a sense of mystery in the shots, one I wished to emulate; the only editing I did was in-keeping with minor cropping and straightening.

All the shots taken in the hallway were done with Ode to Kubrick and his use of first-person perspective; he used this technique throughout ‘The Shining’, to drawn attention to a point of convergence or of interest. This is almost identical to a commonly known photographic technique – leading lines.

I employed the same technique as I continued down the hall to where the light diminished. The lines above and below the cladding converge at the fire exit that is central in the frame, the indiscernible darkness magnifies this effect, drawing the light beyond the doorway. The door also effectively acts as a frame for the scene beyond its threshold. On reflection, I liken this photo to the saying ‘there’s light at the end of the tunnel’; the end, or at least an escape in a more pressing situation, this is punctuated with the green neon sign at the top of the door frame.

After many hours, I’d reached my limit of Creepy Pasta stories, I was starving, and had been around the hotel a couple of times with a variety of different routes; having shot everything I wanted at least 5 different ways, I decided enough was enough. I paused the next Creepy Pasta story – a ‘first-hand account’ of a monster hunter - and headed back for tea.

In this moment of temporal finality, I thought it a natural place to pause this story. I hoped you enjoyed my first-hand account and appreciate my photo’s.

Until we meet again in Part 2, bye for now.

Stay safe.


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