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Tag Archives: Marker

halawa cemetery

An old cemetery behind a long-gone church is being taken over by trees and vines.  Few tourists even notice it, and most of those that do are discouraged from exploring it further by clouds of ravenous mosquitos, and huge spider webs–most housing huge but harmless spiders–that seem to have been deliberately constructed across anything remotely resembling a footpath.

How said mosquitos manage to avoid said spider webs is a scientific mystery.

This intrepid photographer managed a few smart phone shots…there’s no way to set a tripod up here!

I love the contrast between the few, massive cement grave markers and the hundreds of slender, delicate tree trunks surrounding them.

I’d love to come back in 50 years to see how the cemetery has changed.  Will it be a forest, or will it be restored?

Only time will tell…



As I was chasing some lovely late afternoon light around the Palouse looking for something interesting to shoot, I passed a cemetery.  That is to say, I almost passed a cemetery.  I have a strange compulsion to drive into just about every cemetery I pass.  They’re one of my favorite places to shoot, and most of the time I have the place to myself.

This particular day was no exception.  The entire day was dark and rainy until perhaps an hour or two before sundown.  I was driving around trying to find a cool place to shoot sunset, and nothing was jumping out at me.  All the barns in the area were nondescript.  Same with the houses.  Even the hills in this area weren’t really talking to me.  For three full days I’d been waiting for good light, and shooting lovely things in the rain.  Now the light was right and I was stumped for a subject.

So as I was driving around the cemetery, which was on top of a hill, I came upon this view which (pardon the pun) stopped me dead in my tracks.  The evening light was making all the headstones cast wonderful long shadows.  The clouds were doing some post-storm interesting stuff in the sky.  And the way the road split and wrapped around the top of the hill in sensuous curves, almost as if it was embracing the land…

I normally shoot in cemeteries with a 100-200 mm lens, and don’t really think of them as a location for landscape photography, but I took this image with an 18 mm lens and made a mental note to myself to do more landscape photography in cemeteries in the future.


In a small cemetery in the Palouse, an old grave marker stands tall, on not one but two separate pedestals.  I found the fuzzy orange lichen on the smooth white stone to be a lovely contrast of colors and textures.  Clearly this grave has been here for many decades.  Look at the beautiful weathering on the lamb’s head and body in the image below, polished like a river rock by many years of rain and sleet and snow and wind.

I hope he’s able to keep his silent vigil for many more years before he eventually erodes and crumbles away into an unrecognizable lump of stone.  While some people might find him already too old and weather-worn for their liking, to me he is absolutely perfect just as he is.

Today we return from the Land Down Under to look at some American grave markers.  All the images in today’s post were taken at Sebastopol Memorial Lawn Incorporated (yup, that’s what it’s really called) in Sebastopol, California.  It’s on the small side, as cemeteries go, but dates back to the early 1800’s, which is pretty old by California standards.  And they’ve got a lovely assortment of grave markers there.  The young woman above looks very pensive.

This angel is stunning!  I don’t know how they get the “skin” to look so real…and I love how she looks so innocent even though her gown is about to slip off her shoulders!

This is a closeup of the hands of the previous angel.  I love the contrast of her smooth “skin” with the rough texture of her gown.  Whatever they painted her “skin” with retards the growth of lichen, which loves the acid in the granite.  What a neat juxtaposition!

Compare the hands in the previous image with this hand.  This headstone is marble, which doesn’t hold up as well in the elements as the granite in the previous image.  But the broken top tells a story.

I like that the break left the hand completely intact.

Here’s an example of an angel silhouette.  As I said in yesterday’s post, I think these work the best when the angels have their wings outspread.  (And did you notice how asymmetrical this angel’s wings are?)  But go ahead and experiment with different views of different statues.  Profile shots can also be very dramatic, and in a side profile, folded wings might look the best.  I’m putting that on my list to try the next time I go to a cemetery.

Finally, be alert to changing light conditions.  The day I was shooting all these images, there was a break between rainstorms, but the sky was overcast.  The light was great for shooting the statues, nice and soft, no shadows, but the landscape views just looked flat.  So I focused on the statues and the individual headstones and their details.  Just as I was despairing of getting any good evening light, and thinking about packing up my gear and taking off, the sun burst through the rain clouds and bathed the cemetery in that beautiful golden light that only comes during breaks from rainy weather .  In the meantime, the storm clouds were gathering on the far horizon, turning it almost black.

These are exactly the conditions I was hoping for when I began shooting.  Optimistically, I had scoped out an area that I wanted to shoot landscapes in, that would take advantage of the golden light from the west and the dark sky in the east.  The far west side of the cemetery downslopes, and I knew that if I went to the bottom of the hill, I could shoot up at the headstones and get a dramatic perspective.

I had also selected a huge chiseled lichen-covered cross for my subject.  And I knew the golden light would accentuate the yellow lichen on the cross, and really make it pop against the dark blue sky in the background.

Fortunately, I was about 100′ away from the cross when the sun broke through the clouds.  Knowing that sometimes this light only lasts for seconds, I sprinted to a spot downhill of the cross, crouched down on the wet grass, and set up my shot.

I was truly blessed, because the light held out for over ten minutes, allowing me to get a number of different shots from the downhill side of the cemetery.

I would’ve been quite content if I had gotten nothing but the statue and headstone shots you see above, but getting the storm light images like the one below was truly the icing on the cake.

There’s a saying that luck favors the prepared.

And it just goes to show that the key to getting successful images is to be in the Right Place at the Right Time (even if you have to run to get there)!