Normally I post a photography tip or reference on Fridays. Today’s post calls for a different introduction. Location photography is something a bit different than your normal walk-a-bout. When I am going to do one, I scout out the location ahead of time and start to plan what it is I want to photograph. Such planning helps to insure I have the equipment I need.
This is what I did when I heard my photography Meetup group, the Syracuse Photographers Association, would be going to the Oakwood Cemetery after an early morning shoot at Webster’s Pond. I have been to Oakwood many times but scouting it without a camera helps me to see it differently and concentrate without the pressure of creating photos. It’s a good exercise and helps me to be a better photographer.
The cemetery was dedicated in the fall of 1859 and features large and small ornate stonework of past citizens of Syracuse, New York and surrounding towns. Family names on the tombstones and mausoleums in Oakwood come right out of the history books of central New York. For me, the most fascinating part of the cemetery is the older sections were years of cold winters and hot summers have weathered the turn of the 18th century stone and masonry creating shapes, textures, and colors which call for a different approach to photographing and processing.
The day was partly cloudy with lots of sunlight. Not the best conditions for photographing a cemetery. I used a polarizing filter to cut down the amount and quality of the light. This filter not only gives you truer colors but increases the contrast. Such photos can be processed to create spookier images than what the camera captured initially.
The Haggerty Lion was created by the then younger brother of Michael Charles Haggerty who died at age 14 in an auto accident in 1974 who later became an art student at Syracuse University. The story of how it came to be placed at Oakwood can be read at the bottom of this webpage: History of Oakwood.
This stone stood out to me but not in the photo as its gray color was dominated by the green of the grass and the autumn colors of the trees. Solution: mono-color the background using selective coloring in Apple’s Aperture 3 photo software. Now, the stone looks 3-D and otherworldly looking.
A low angle which created grass stains and protests from my wife, a wide angle lens and the use of the Toy Camera preset in Apple’s Aperture 3 photo software, creates a high impact photo of what happens when time, weather and gravity teamed up to find the weakness in a mason’s tombstone made over a hundred years ago.
Next time you see a neat place you would like to photograph, before heading in with your camera, take the time to scout it out and plan how you would best photograph it to find the stories it has to tell you and those who enjoy seeing your work. A word of warning if you do so around Halloween, you might get possessed to do some mad photo processing. Not that I was. 🙂