June 15, 7 Frames from Inside the Salt Palace on Tmax 3200 (at 1600)

For a while now, I’ve been fascinated by the interior architecture of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City Utah. It’s really just a large convention hall built in 1995, but there’s something about the interior framework and glass along with the play of light they bring that really speaks to me.

Before Covid hit I used to go to Salt Lake City at the beginning of Summer to read for AP (the high school Advanced Placement program run by The College Board). Reading, in this context means to evaluate student portfolios. as my background is in the visual arts, I read Art and Design portfolios.

It’s a fun but challenging experience. The camaraderie among the readers is great and everyone is very supportive and helpful. The challenge comes from having to quickly and accurately assess thousands of Art portfolios that encompass an almost staggering spectrum of proficiencies, from none at all to the most amazing work you ever saw. Reading can be truly inspiring when you get to see some of the incredible work that we get to assess.

As you might expect, as a reader, you can’t just pick the portfolios you like the best to receive high grades. There is a rigorous rubric that must be digested and one must make a conscious effort to discard your biases and strictly adhere to the rubric, luckily the training for doing so is ongoing and excellent.

For the past couple years, the reading has been all virtual and I declined the invitations to read. This year however, when I received the invitation to read in person, I jumped at the opportunity. I guess I liked reading more than I realized. I also thought this might be a great photographic opportunity as I had recently acquired a camera and lens combination that I’ve grown very fond of.

The Salt Palace, as it stands now is actually the third iteration of Salt Palaces and is actually the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace. The first Salt Palace was built in 1899, its interior was built of wood saturated in brine that grew salt crystals over its surface and the pillars and arches were cut from slabs of rock salt, hence the Salt Palace.

The interior of the original Salt Palace in 1910.

I only brought two cameras with me for the week long stint in Salt Lake City; my little Lumenbox and my relatively new (to me) 1949 Leica Ic. I thought the little Leica, as stripped down of a camera as I can imagine, would be perfect for this. It’s quite compact and easy to use, and in conjunction with the Voigtlander 15mm Super Wide Heliar can produce some extremely dramatic shots that I imagined could do justice to the interior of the Salt Palace.

For film I wanted something with a wide exposure latitude, strong contrast and ideally, pronounced grain. At the time, I even envisioned some night shots, so a fast film was the ticket. It seemed like Kodak Tmax P3200 ticked all the boxes. I wound up shooting this roll at 1600 because I wanted take a few outdoor shots and my little Leica’s fastest shutter speed is 1/500. Film was developed by The Darkroom in San Clemente.

If you got this far, thanks for reading!

The windows, skylights and supporting trusses are the heart of the Salt Palace’s architecture for me.

There are several of these pillars with skylights throughout the Salt Palace.

Hanging signage.

Morning sun through an eastern facing window.

Entryway at the west end.

A close up of the northern entrance and tower.

The northern entry way.

And for perspective the glass tower at the north entry. Inside there is very cool sound sculpture. I think this one was shot with a Voigtlander Color Skopar 21mm and an orange no.16 filter.

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