Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Earthman Cemetery

Someone asked me what was my favorite season of the year. I really don’t have one as every season has something somewhat unique to enjoy. Summer is abandoning; Winter is bundling, Spring is the earth; Fall is the sky. The Fall skies in Texas can be spectacular. Was looking for a place to do some cloud photographs and Alcy suggested a cemetery. The only one I knew that was close was Earthman Cemetery on I45 just north of Hwy 8.

I had visited Earthman many years ago when we were doing genealogy because some of Janet’s relatives are buried there but I had never been very far into the grounds. It is a relatively new cemetery and I didn’t think there would be much that would be of interest photographically. Well we drove to the back of the cemetery to get as far away from power lines as possible and found a pleasant surprise. I will probably be photographing in here more. At the back is a section that is mostly Asian and the religious artifacts there are amazing. Not many angels but a plethora of Christ figures and Madonnas. Found one Buddha and feel certain there are more.

There is always difficulty in deciding how to post process the cemetery photographs. I am torn between color, because I am a person that likes color, that likes the emotion of color, and monochrome which seems almost without question to carry the essence of cemetery. I want the photographs to reflect what I experience, what I am trying to experience, in doing photography whether it is in a cemetery or somewhere else. I say, “trying to experience” because sometimes there are things that I want to experience in a particular way. I have certain things that I want to experience when photographing in a cemetery and that helps me focus more sharply on the objects that I am finding. It is not a single thing that I am looking for. Sometimes it can be a combination of things that I want to see. Sometimes those things or combination of things has to do with the deceased, sometimes it has to do with those left behind and many times it simply has to do with me, my needs, beliefs, fears. Sometimes it has to do with a favorite poem. It is simply looking, okay ‘seeing,’ an object or element and letting it express its meaning and how it relates to experience. Cemeteries are a great place for experiencing. That brings up the question of how do you process to best carry that experience.

I have tried a number of things, these being among them. I am pleased with the processing however they could be done considerably differently and I would be equally pleased as long as they carry for me something of the experience, something beyond simple documentation. Everyone knows what is in a cemetery so the photographs have to say more than that.

ADDENDUM: I guess I should be clearer about what in my opinion I want the photographs to convey beyond saying this is an object in a cemetery.

I want the photograph to carry one or more of the following and these are only the things that come to mind at the present. During the time of taking the photographs these may change, sometimes drastically. But a photograph taken in a cemetery should say something about death—how we or others do or have respond to the death—they should be my personal thoughts about dieing because the more specific a photograph the more likely it will be universal—they should express something about the mystery of death, entering into the unknown and our hopes and fears we harbor about that unknown—they should touch a heart, yours mainly—they should bring at least an occasional thought of a tear to the eye—they in some way should span the gulf between now and forever by talking about either the deceased or the living and the relationship of the two—they should celebrate both life and death or scare the hell out of you—they should say here but for the grace of God am I.  They should teeter between the darkness and the light. Most of all I want them to talk about love and where it goes.

Second Addendum: Okay, there are not many people in this world what I would do this for but Jan asked or at least suggested that she would be interested in seeing the original shots. These are all done with the Olympus and although love being able to change point of view with the Olympus that I can no longer do with the Nikon I still can’t see the LCD very well so a lot of time my framing is not as accurate as I would like. Also the lens I am using has considerable barrel distortion that has not been corrected. 


  1. Gary, a very good day, photographically speaking. It would be fun to see your SOC ones of the same. Your processing is very interesting on some of them. Second and last are my favorite. Are you using filters, textures, both?? Beautiful work.

  2. Jan, thank you. I use Paint Shop Pro with the Nik Color Efex Pro plug in for most than may do a little additional in Nikon NX2. There are no filters or multiple layers used.

    As you know but may may remember no one sees my SOC. LOL I will be glad to post the few that I did as more ‘straight’ photographs for comparison.

  3. Jan, check out the second addendum. Now, I would not do this for just anyone. Since I keep every setting on the camera at its lowest setting these do have my standard histogram adjustment and sharpening. This is as close to SOOC as I get.

  4. Where's the LOVE button?? I am totally blown away by the difference (improvement) of your "befores and afters!" I should learn to us photo software so that I can do similar things as this. I will make a note to do that, right after I learn to use my camera!! (not sure whether to put a smiley or frown-ey after that statement) You have to be equally as talented to process as you do as to see the shot to begin with. Thanks for letting me see what very few ever will! :) The only thing I could critique is the Jesus with outstretched arms one. The area just to the left (beneath the arm) needs to be darkened to match what is above the arm. Thanks for sharing. I do enjoy reading your blog posts and viewing your photos even though I rarely comment.

  5. Jan, thank you. I totally agree about the Christ with outstretched arms, the lower part does need cloning. I sometimes get too excited about the photographs and post them before I really should. I will frequently reprocess after seeing them posted to the blog.

    There are some other 'misses' which I wish to correct. My favorite of all the photographs is the one with the small pyramid because of the mysticism associated with pyramids. The feet are too crowded to the edge, part of my seeing the LCD problem. The other is the stuffed toy jammed in between two stones. I got in too close and it loses the sense of place. I want to go back and reshoot these two. I am not pleased with the photograph with the balloon hugs and kisses so I might try doing the better either as reprocessing or reshooting. I was really surprised to find so much to shoot at Earthman and we covered only a very small part. Alcy, being much sweeter than I, was plagued by the bugs so she quite long before I did and I was working with a nearly exhausted battery which finally gave out. These were all shot on the Olympus and I really need a better lens.

    I also need a new computer but yesterday the yard people were here and I discovered that someone has gutted my AC unit so right now that is probably going to take priority over the lens.

  6. gutted your unit? not sure what that means? vandalism? theft? accidental damage? whatever, it doesn't sound good. but if it was me , the lens would definitely move down on the list! HA besides, i've seen (some of) your equipment!! HA

    but it sounds like another trip to Earthman is in your near future. i've been fortunate to photograph in cemeteries a couple of times during the Fall when the leaves changed - if you can hang on till Christmas you might get some color. of course you will change it to b&w. lol don't forget to throw some mosquito spray in your car so you can stay longer.