05.24.20: Downward spiral

I was rushing to my room between meetings and decided to take a back stairway to the third floor instead of waiting for the elevator. That's how I found this spiral staircase. I grabbed my camera from the room, put on an extreme wide-angle zoom, ran back to the stairs and found a position that provided an interesting composition. 

Looking down  an 1800s spiral staircase

‍When I’m out with my camera, there are two types of scenes that always get my attention: scenes with repeating patterns or scenes with reflections.

‍I guess if I ever encounter a scene with reflections of repeating patterns I’d stare at it all day.

‍This photo of a spiral staircase (always a favorite subject) was captured during a break in a business trip. I was in Washington, D.C. and, as is typical, I packed my camera and a couple of lenses just in case I found time to play photo tourist.

‍Turns out that I got my best shot of the trip without leaving the hotel. 

‍I was staying at the Hotel Monaco, a very unusual and distinctive Kimpton property on the corner of 7th and F streets in Penn Quarter.

‍I was rushing to my room between meetings and decided to take a back stairway to the third floor instead of waiting for the elevator. That's how I found this spiral staircase. I grabbed my camera from the room, put on an extreme wide-angle zoom, ran back to the stairs and found a position that provided an interesting composition. I decided to process the scene in black and white so the viewer’s eye would focus on patterns and not color.

‍A couple of years later, I returned to this spot, this time looking up the spiral staircase toward a skylight. It’s another favorite shot.

‍The Hotel Monaco in Washington is a historic building. According to Wikipedia, "The Hotel Monaco is located inside the neoclassical General Post Office building, a National Historic Landmark constructed in 1839 that was the first all-marble building in Washington and patterned after the Roman Temple of Jupiter. … The four-story building is separated by a courtyard. One half of the structure was designed by Robert Mills, designer of the Washington Monument, while the other half was designed by Thomas U. Walter, one of the architects for the United States Capitol."

‍Kimpton began converting the building to a hotel in 2000. Because the building is a National Historic Landmark there were limitations on the types of changes that could be made to the structure. That's why the rooms have 12- to 18-foot ceilings. Many have unusual shapes because of the shapes of the original rooms in the post office.

Looking down a spiral staircase, Hotel Monaco, Washington, D.C.

Looking down a spiral staircase, Hotel Monaco, Washington, D.C.

‍Tech specs

  • Date/time: Dec. 20, 2006, 10:54 a.m.
  • Location: 38°53'46.9979" N 77°1'22.002" W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 (10mm) 
  • Aperture: f/4.5
  • Shutter: 1/30th second
  • ISO: 800