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Aug-05-2010 11:32printcomments

Your City USA visits The Elsinore Theatre

The Elsinore may seem a paradox, but for all its grandness the theater has an intimate feel.

Elsinore Theatre Stained Glass
By Glen Bledsoe

(Salem, Oregon) - Historic Elsinore Theater is a treasure. It's not a towering cathedral nor is it made of granite and marble, but it is not less a treasure for it. The Elsinore is a piece of Salem history and a place where many kinds of events continue to take place: weddings, musical acts, magicians, dancers, and of course movie showings. In the beginning the Elsinore was a movie palace. Yes, there was a time when you dressed up to go to the movies because movie palaces such as the Elsinore were places of luxury.

I won't go into the tale of how the Elsinore was nearly torn down and how a group of wise citizens not only prevented this from happening, but also began the process of restoration until the theatre is as luxurious today as it ever was--and that is saying something. The history of the Elsinore is long and complex. I wouldn't try to sum it up when it's been told so well by Elaine Sanchez on the theatre's own site.

I hope these photos are not the first time you've seen the interior of the Elsinore, but if they are know this: it may seem a paradox, but for all its grandness the theater has an intimate feel. There are no bad seats in the Elsinore. The air tingles with warmth and excitement.

My wife and I have gone to the Elsinore since the mid-90's. We are huge fans of silent movies: Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd. Of course, those who've attended any of these features know that with Stage Manager Rick Parks at the keyboard of the Mighty Wurlitzer "silent" movies are anything but silent. The Elsinore, of course, has a series of top-of-the-line live entertainments you won't want to miss. Please check out for details.

Shooting the pictures for this article was something I'd been looking forward to all summer. I met Executive Director Stephen Martin at the Salem Art Fair and arranged for a time when I could set up my tripod without disturbing anything.

When I arrived I was met by Stephen who kindly turned on all the lights and gave me the run of the place for a bit over two hours. The pictures you'll see revealed detail and textures that ordinary photography misses. I use a process called HDR--High Dynamic Range--which basically means I take from 3 to 5 pictures at different exposures and combine them into a single photo. Some exposures last as long as 30 seconds.

Sometimes it's more complicated than that. In the photo of the stained-glass window "Portia" I took five rows of three photos each. These I processed with software two different ways and then combined them into a single image. That's a total of 30 photos to make one picture. The resulting photo at 72 dots per inch would be about nine and a half feet tall and three and a third feet wide. That's very close to life size.

The Elsinore is known for its stained-glass windows. You'll noticed that even its EXIT signs are also stained-glassed. Hey, if that ain't luxury I don't know what is.

Check out Elsinore's line-up and buy tickets to any of their upcoming events. You can even take a tour for $3.00. Find some reason--any excuse will do--to spend some time in this lovely building and enjoy a rare treasure in the heart of Salem.

Glen Bledsoe, writer, photographer, cartoonist, magician was born and raised in Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago for several years. Glen made his home in Oregon in the early 80's where he continues to enjoy the mild climate and lack of sales tax.

He and his wife Karen have published seventeen books together for the school library market. Glen has written extensively on the issues of technology and education for the National Education Association and has penned other Salem-News publications including The Benny & Sid series, "The Truant Officer" (a serialized graphic novel), "The Insidious Futoko," and "The Hummer." His novel The Charity of Ebenezer Scrooge is available on and at better bookstores everywhere.

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Glen August 6, 2010 9:02 am (Pacific time)

Thanks. I appreciate your kind words.

Editors August 5, 2010 8:35 pm (Pacific time)

All we can say is that Glen is as talented of a photographer, artist, author and news writer, as anyone we ever have the pleasure of publishing. His lovely wife Karen is also incredible; we are just so fortunate to be associated. It seems clear that his life as a primary teacher and college professor, as in the case of several of Glen's fellow writers here at, gave him a set of tools that allow a more unique and more diverse interpretation of both historic and current events.  Add to that his skills with visual presentation, and we find these delectable series where the photos, literally, take on a lifelike feeling.  Glen, thank you so much!  

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