A True Hero

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The top image was one I captured the other night and features a statue of Major Richard Winters that was erected at the entrance of a local rail trail. Memorial day included a huge ceremony to unveil the statue and pay tribute to him and all the men and women who fought for our freedom. Dick Winters was featured in the book and mini series “Band Of Brothers” and is best known for commanding ”easy company”  during World War 2 .I decided to stop on an evening when it was a little rainy in the hopes of avoiding interfering with anyone visiting the site and I managed to capture this low angle shot with storm clouds in the background. I probably would not have shared it here but after having several people post it on Facebook and getting thousands of views there,I figured I would post it. I lit the statue with off camera flash to bring out the detail in the statue.The bottom photo shows the final resting place of Major Winters and includes many flags left by those visiting his grave. That image was taken a few years ago.

There She Stands

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Today marks the Thirteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country on september eleventh of 2001. For me, like countless others, this day is permanently etched into my mind and like most I remember the exact moment it unfolded. For me it was a crystal clear fall day out in the country photographing blue morning glories on a farm, when the radio began to crackle with hints of something unspeakable. I recall driving as fast as I could to get to a television and being glued to it for days. Take a moment today to think of and pray for those who were lost that day, and especially their families who were left to cope with such heartbreak.

Every anniversary of this event, I find myself watching the documentaries on television and each and every time I am instantly taken back to that moment and overcome with a sense of deep despair, and I can’t begin to imagine the heartache for those who never got the chance to hold their loved ones again. I have never been to the twin towers memorial, but I have been to the Shanksville crash site in Pennsylvania and while it is not an over the top memorial, I can definitely say it is a place of quiet reflection that really hits you. I felt this Angel statue from a cemetery in New York was a fitting image for today. It is among my favorite infrared images that I have shot. If you have a moment and care to hear Michael W. Smiths tribute song  to 9-11 called ”There she stands”, I posted a link here.

Michael W. Smith – There She Stands – YouTube

Mary Baker Eddy

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This monument was completely in the dark until I illuminated it with flash. Doing so allowed the texture and inscriptions to reveal themselves. I must thank my friend Morrie who helped keep my camera dry under an umbrella while I moved around the structure with the flash.

Often, monuments and mausolea are designed by the same architect who designed other residences for the family. The Mary Baker Eddy monument does not follow that mold, instead, it was the result of a design competition. Egerton Swarthout, a New York architect, won the competition in 1914, with a tholos form design of a circular colonnade consisting of 8 columns each 15 feet in height. Swarthout omitted a roof because he felt there should be “nothing between the grave and sky but flowers”.

Originally, the architect specified the monument be constructed of Colorado or Vermont white marble. As an acknowledgement to the harsh New England winter, Bethel, Vermont, white granite was substituted because it withstands the elements significantly better than marble.

The Mary Baker Eddy monument has been acknowledged as one of the finest examples of the granite carver’s craft. Among the details incorporated into the design are the wild rose, which was Mrs. Eddy’s favorite flower, the morning glory, which opens to the light and closes to the darkness, the lamp of wisdom and a sheaf of wheat.

Husband and Wife

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Nestled at the base of a giant maple tree are the graves of this husband and wife. Her stone reads-“her example is our inheritance” and his reads, “the master called and found him”. I wonder if the tree was planted since they were buried or just happened to grow from a seed that landed there?

Think Your Cold?

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I refer to these two figures as the guardians because they are at the entrance to this small plot in a local cemetery. A recent windy snowstorm had them  accented in a dusting of white. I used my flashlight to brighten up the details and bring out their unique character.It was around 8 degrees this morning,so it’s no wonder they have their arms crossed to keep warm.

A Quiet Evening Walk

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This is the cemetery statue for Augusta Bitner who lived from 1884-1906. It is located in a cemetery right next to a city and I found the contrast between the still park and the lit buildings just outside the fence interesting and worth shooting. Rumors have it that she has been seen roaming the cemetery on the anniversary of her death.I found conflicting stories on her demise that range from typhus to falling down steps and dying after having an argument with her parents about her imminent wedding.All I know is she remained still the entire time I was there,which included a visit from two police cruisers checking out what I was up too. I showed them the photo on my tablet and after they asked me if she moved at all,off they went.

 

Cemetery shadows

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I photographed this cemetery scene last evening as the sun set on another cold day. This shot was only possible by shooting two exposures because the flare was too overbearing,so I blocked the top half with my hand as I captured a flare free bottom of the shot, and then I had to wait till the sun was right on the horizon to get the second part of the shot. The only thing that is less than perfect is the fact that the sun set to the right of where it was when it cast the shadows,and unfortunately there were little if any shadows when it got low enough to capture it properly,so I had to use the two images I did.

Winter at the Cemetery

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I headed out to a local cemetery to try some light painting this past weekend and once again temperatures in the single digits tested my dedication to the craft. The sunset was nice and the colorful sky in this image is part light from sunset and the city nearby,which gave a neat effect. I used my nitecor flashlight to illuminate the chapel,trees,snow and tombstones. I always am on my toes when I am alone in places like this because I have seen homeless sleeping here,but not with the temperatures we have right now. I was also worried the gate might be closed when I went to leave but thankfully that was not the case.

Scots’ Charitable Society

mount-auburn-cemetery7The Scots’ Charitable Society is the oldest charitable organization still existing in the Western Hemisphere.  Founded in 1657 and incorporated in 1786 the organization exists to help people of Scottish heritage. The society is devoted to the cultivation of personal and social relations of the members, cherishing the associations of the land from which they originated, and instilling in their fellow-countrymen a zeal for carrying on their time-honored traditions. This gate and fence at Mount Auburn cemetery is stunning and pays tribute to this organization. I shot it in both infrared and color.

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Milmore Sphynx

mount-auburn-cemetery4This sphinx is a bit out-of-place in a cemetery but it still is quite impressive and I shot this image in infrared. This is Martin Milmore’s Sphinx commissioned by Jacob Bigelow in commemoration of the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery. It sits facing the Bigelow chapel in mount auburn cemetery and was carved at this site from a single block of granite from Maine, it was completed in July 1872.

The inscription on the monument:
American Union preserved
African slavery destroyed
by the uprising of a great people
by the blood of fallen heroes

Bigelow Chapel

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I just returned from a four-day trip to shoot fall foliage in new england and this is the first image I am sharing. The foliage was a disaster but my friend  Morrie and I took a day to shoot in Mount Auburn cemetery in Massachusetts. The place did not disappoint and this image features the Bigelow Chapel,which is a centerpiece of the cemetery.Originally built in 1846 in a Gothic Revival style, Bigelow Chapel is a central structure illustrating the Mount Auburn Cemetery’s importance of linking a network of building landmarks to the landscape.  The Chapel, constructed of Quincy granite, has served as a non sectarian chapel for funeral and memorial services. The building has had a full history of renovations, beginning with a complete dismantling and rebuilding just nine years following construction due to structural problems, a complete interior remodeling in 1923, and the addition of a crematory annex in 1970.  The only regret I had was not being able to see the place lit inside to show off the stained glass. I light painted the scene with about ten pops of the flash. This cemetery is very large and well maintained,and while we were there a maintenance crew carefully raked the stone walkways free of debris,which surely must be done everyday in the fall. We were also told not to park on the grass at the road edge because they are very particular about keeping things perfect.

 

There She Stands

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Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country on september eleventh of 2001. For me, like countless others, this day is permanently etched into my mind and like most I remember the exact moment it unfolded. For me it was a crystal clear fall day out in the country photographing blue morning glories on a farm, when the radio began to crackle with hints of something unspeakable. I recall driving as fast as I could to get to a television and being glued to it for days. Take a moment today to think of and pray for those who were lost that day, and especially their families who were left to cope with such heartbreak.

Every anniversary of this event, I find myself watching the documentaries on television and each and every time I am instantly taken back to that moment and overcome with a sense of deep despair, and I can’t begin to imagine the heartache for those who never got the chance to hold their loved ones again. I have never been to the twin towers memorial, but I have been to the Shanksville crash site in Pennsylvania and while it is not an over the top memorial, I can definitely say it is a place of quiet reflection that really hits you. I felt this Angel statue from a cemetery in New York was a fitting image for today. It is among my favorite infrared images that I have shot. If you have a moment and care to hear Michael W. Smiths tribute song  to 9-11 called ”There she stands”, I posted a link here.

Michael W. Smith – There She Stands – YouTube

The Light Still Shines

 

strasburg-angelThis image was taken this past weekend in the town of Strasburg,Pa, and was shot at St Michael’s Lutheran church, which dates back to the early 1700s. I had been driving around looking for scenery and the evening was a little lackluster so I decided to stop and light paint this scene.The Angelic statue was lit using a small flashlight to bring out the details and the rest of the scene was illuminated by flash.

 

Grace in Granite

This figure kneels at the grave of someone named Pidgeon,who is buried in this magnificent Victorian era cemetery that is full of highly detailed statuary.The only info I could find was that the monument cost $2,350 dollars and shipped in october of 1898. It mentions eight stone cutters,a polisher,a statue cutter,and letter cutter. I shot this in infrared on a sunny day,which turns the foliage a dreamy white. I lit the statue shadow areas to show a bit more detail.

The Peterson Path

I like to give a little story or background on my photos,but I cant seem to nail down any specifics about who is buried in this mausoleum? I did find out it was built in 1912 at a cost of $9337 dollars,and is blue westerly granite.Shot in infrared with a Nikon D200 and 17-35 wide-angle,which is not so wide on that camera body.

A Friend of Lincoln

This is the mausoleum where Methodist bishop Matthew Simpson is buried.Though based in Philadelphia during the Civil War, Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson (1811-1884) traveled the country during that time giving speeches in support of the Union, emancipation and President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was thankful for the Bishop’s support.After Lincoln was assassinated he delivered the eulogy at his burial in Springfield, Illinois. At that time few people traveled as widely as Bishop Simpson did and his reports on public opinion were a valuable resource to the President. The mausoleum reminds me a little bit of a miniature church to some degree.

Let The Sun Shine

 

This is another flash light painting exercise where I attempted to bring out the detail in the statue. The sun was shining through the tree,but was basically backlighting everything. I shot the first exposure with the silhouetted statue and sun,and then the sun moved behind the leaves and I started with the flash portion of the shoot.The off camera flash is mounted on a six foot pole for better positioning but the statue is pretty high,so it’s not the perfect lighting scenario.

 

Best Friends

They asked for so little,but gave so much.More than just friends.This is the epitaph that one pet owner had etched in stone in memory of a beloved cat and dog.I assume the pets are buried here just feet from magnificent mausoleums housing their owners. I was not particularly dazzled by the carving work on the cat,but it may be a hundred years old and simply be weathered. You never know what you might come across in these acres of granite.

The Tree of Life

This image of the three crosses caught my eye because they were under the canopy of this beautiful tree. This cemetery has numerous grand old trees,many of which I do not know their type.For those looking for photo tips,take note how I framed the tree without overlapping the branches and stones.Picking the right lens for any given situation allows you to visually pull off the shot you envision,and little details like that can be a huge advantage.Here are a few quotes relative to my image. From the Bible,

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9).

and Albert Einstein-“Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.

Sculpting with Light

This pair of images exemplifies what you can do with a small flash,a tripod and a little time. The top image is the result of about 10 different flash pops on separate exposures,all done at various angles to light the subject and bring out the texture. The bottom image is no flash added. This technique would be considered painting with light,which is essentially using a flash like a brush to bring your subject to life . I definitely prefer the top image of the two,because I feel it shows the sculptors work in a way that showcases his talent.Having wireless flash and remote camera firing is a must with this technique so you can move around your subject and operate your gear at a distance.

Fog Shrouded Dawn

This is one of the first images from a recent photo excursion to the cemetery with a friend,and initially  this area caught my eye as the rays of sun spread across the grounds. We parked along a lane and I decided to walk about 30 yards in,which put me in the right spot to see the rays and various light and dark tones. We had an hour drive to get there,and we had no idea the morning was going to be enveloped in fog,so we wish we had left earlier.

Art in Stone

It has been a while since I have done any cemetery infrared shooting,so both myself and a good friend went out yesterday to explore a new destination. Lovely weather in the low sixties provided the perfect opportunity to look for compositions amongst the grandeur of this Victorian era cemetery.This image was captured with a converted Nikon D200,which only captures infrared now. I spotted these ornately detailed urns which were sidelit by the sun,and the mausoleum in the distance rounded out my composition. I am always amazed by the sights you see in these old cemeteries. I will share more from this trip in the month ahead.

The Prince and The Pauper

As spring advances and trees and grass begin to green up, I start thinking about shooting infrared images.The green foliage turns white in infrared, creating a very unique look. I have found that some of the Victorian era cemeteries can look quite stunning when shot in infrared, and todays post is one such example. This is Calvary cemetery outside New York City, and features very impressive statuary, monuments and carved stones. I have a black backpack and often set it down while I am shooting, and more than once I have gone into panic mode as I wander a bit and realize I forgot where I set my bag. Try finding a bag amongst thousands of dark stones and you quickly remember to wear your bag when you move around. I always go with a friend, and we usually shoot different subjects, so at least once a trip I wait till he is in deep concentration looking through the camera, and I sneak up and suddenly grab his arm or talk in his ear, and of course he returns the favor. This particular cemetery goes on for acres and includes 3 million burials.The large mausoleum on the left is that of the Johnston family. the following is from the internet about this family and where my title came from.

John Johnston died May 17, 1887, seven years after brother Charles and seventeen years before his other brother Robert A. Johnston.

John Johnston led the J. & C. Johnston company, and the J. & C. Johnston department store at Broadway and Twenty-Second Street was a popular source for dress silks and other fabrics. The store was among the most successful of its time, prospering during an era when similar companies frequently went bankrupt.The fortunes of J. & C. Johnston took a drastic turn for the worse after John Johnston’s passing. Responsibility for the company passed to Robert A. Johnston, at whose helm the business failed.

Mr. Johnston possessed millions when the business came to him through the death of his brothers, but he lost all in a few years, and in 1888 the house went out of existence. He retired to his palatial home at Mount St. Vincent, on the Hudson. Later the place was sold at foreclosure and the house burned, the owner having a narrow escape. Since then he had lived alone in a barn on the property, refusing charity. He was found sick with pneumonia and insane ten days ago.”

This obituary makes tantalizing reference to the mighty structure that has fascinated folks for years: “[Robert Johnston’s] body … will be immured in the magnificent family mausoleum built many years ago at a cost of $300,000 in Calvary Cemetery.”The dismal circumstances of Robert Johnston’s death did not cost him a space in the family mausoleum. The mausoleum’s presence today echoes the success and personal fortunes of the Johnston name while housing the man who wasted it.The story is indeed interesting, as the tomb is occupied by prince and pauper alike.