Last weekend’s warmer Spring weather gave me the long anticipated opportunity to visit the Point of Graves to take photos of the stones. I had gotten an LED light stick earlier in the year and was anxious to use it for night photography… hoping to be able to read the stones where the inscriptions were eroded.
I am super excited to report success! The results were better than I could imagine. I got confirmation of the Elizabeth and James Drisco stones. Also, Nathaniel Marshall and several others that were faded and difficult to read in daylight.
It is interesting how nighttime photography shows details one misses during the day. As an Artist, I was taught to turn my project upside down for a different perspective when I ran into problems with design and balance. Our human eye/brain sees what it thinks it should see based on previous experience and often fills or replaces what it doesn’t comprehend in order to made sense of what it is seeing. When you change perspective, flaws or other things generally dismissed become glaringly obvious. Nighttime photography took away all the surrounding clutter and focused only on the stone.
By illuminating the stone with the LED light stick from the side, I was able to clearly see the shadows of the inscriptions. I am told that one can get the same results using a mirror in the daytime. I felt it safer to use a light at night than attempt to transport a huge, breakable mirror.
My camera is a Pentax X-5 digital, set on automatic with no flash. I am not that tech-savy and still haven’t figured out how to really use my camera after all these years. I’m a ‘point and shoot’ kind of person. I do repeated shots of the same subject in an attempt to get an in-focus one, so I’m always surprised by what may show up.
The inscriptions of the stones in the nighttime photos are clearly readable without any manipulation of the photos. I later used Picassa photo editing to lighten the pictures, just to see what would happen. That made the inscriptions stand out even better, I think. Other than an occasional cropping, no other manipulations were done to the photos.
I will be going back to the cemetery soon to document more stones at night. I am that impressed with the clarity. If you see two dark figures with a light wandering around, don’t be alarmed. It is probably my cemetery buddy husband and me. But then again…