Unmarked Graves, Chapel Rock

As a subject, cemeteries are always a bit daunting. I find them easy to photograph as they are always full of symmetry, textures and lines. Plus they have a built-in emotional quality. It’s just a bit awkward to stumble onto one and start snapping away. The dead have a dignity. On one hand, I wouldn’t get too roused about someone photographing grave sites of my family plots, but I empathize with why someone would object. While these were unmarked graves over a hundred years old, deep in the woods on the outskirts of a small town, there was still an inner questioning of what I was doing with a digital camera with the dead merely across a few layers. On the way out, I passed by another country churchyard. It was early on a brisk morning, and at the corner of the graveyard was an elder lady cleaning graves and putting out fresh flowers. An old pickup truck was parked close that was chock-full of flowers. It all was likely preparation for the upcoming All Saints’ Day that follows Halloween. I realized then that cemeteries are meant to be seen, and are meant to be decorated. They are homes, and the etymology of the word traces back to that same association. So for me, photographing graves can be a part of capturing the aesthetic of the grave keeper’s toil.

In regards to the weird DOF in the photo, this was done by  “free lensing,” a technique where you unmount the lens and hold it up to the sensor and take a photograph. With the unstable focal plane and lighting, the technique can yield some interesting photos. It can also dirty your camera sensor, not to mention the risk of dropping a lens. I use Canon’s 1.8 50mm for when I attempt this. While it is still a hundred dollar lens, it’s better than risking something else.

I applied a pseudo infrared effect to this photo much like my last post. I also posted a brief tutorial on the technique over on Digital Darkroom Techniques.


5 thoughts on “Unmarked Graves, Chapel Rock

    1. Yeah, as wide open as you can get it. Set the lens to mf, hold it close to the sensor and then turn the focus ring until you get something. I put the body on tripod to I have and extra hand.

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