The Vigil

Well here is a 180 from yesterday’s post. 🙂 When exploring rural southern areas, I have stumbled, usually surprisingly, into country graveyards and in a few cases, as in the above, simply a grave. Many of them point to a time of close knit, isolated communities, and subsequently, communities that all but dried up. In many of the rural areas around here, there are countless gravel roads reaching back into areas, makeshift roads ground out by oil and gas companies that lead to a pump or pipelines. So if you duck off into these roads, sometimes they have diced through where some of these old communities of abandoned houses or such as in the photograph above, a 104 year old grave. But what really struck me over this grave was that even the marker had this passing marked as 1908, flowers (artificial) had been placed at the foot—in the middle of nowhere—in the winter—in an unmarked area, off the side of a gravel road. There is an incredible vigilance here.

As for the grave, there were broken bricks stacked on top. Due to the sea levels, most graves in Louisiana are built above ground–see the famous New Orleans cemeteries. It’s practiced throughout, so it’s likely this is an above ground grave in which the bricks have collapsed over time. Or it may be a more shallow grave with bricks stacked over. I’m guessing the former given the age.

I originally shot a bracket of this, with the tripod low. I really liked how the underexposed looked, but the flowers were lost a bit in the darks. In post, I sent the darker exposure and regular exposure to Photoshop in a layer stack, and then manually blended the brighter version area through the darker photo using a gradient. I then did the toning in Silver Efex as monochrome seemed to work best.

11 thoughts on “The Vigil

  1. This is great Brandon, and the flowers look real. Never knew louisiana was so close to the sea, is that the reason why there are so many swamps (i hope that´s not an insult) in your region. This is an area of the U.S we would really love to visit sometime-especially New Orleans, looks like a photographers dream to me!

    1. Thanks, Adrian. Not so much the sea, but the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans is actually way below sea level, and with the artifical levees, it has literally began to sink even more and is more of a bowl. That’s why there was such a problem when the levee busted after the Katrina storm. The water had no real way of getting out as the “bowl” filled.

  2. Very nice Brandon. I dig how this shot was framed, and the toning is spot on. Silver Efex is one of my fav pluggins. I have been holding off some of my cemetery photos for some time now, and this post has inspired me to finally put them up. Thanks.

  3. Excellent piece and what an interesting account. The untold tale of the flowers is very haunting.

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