Friday, 25 October 2013

Problems With Photography

Last month I blogged about our Heritage Lottery funded project to catalogue and research the headstones in our local cemetery. You can read more about it here. Thanks to all those who commented. Some of you asked for updates and so here is my first.

We’ve been photographing headstones - not as easy as it sounds. Some headstones slant. Some are subsiding. This is precarious work! Some cameras run out of battery half way through a session. Some people [ok, so it was only me!] are so out of condition that squatting down to photograph one stone after the next is more painful than a step-aerobics class.

Overgrown shrubbery posed yet more problems. The cemetery is surrounded by a huge old hedge with trees growing through the hedge and, in some places, hanging over the stones. Cameras had to be repeatedly discarded while we removed ivy from stones, lifted tree branches, pinned back bushes, covering ourselves in mud, leaves and unidentified insects. [Shudder!] But the main problem has been the weather.

I knew that the rain would be an issue so when we arrived at the cemetery on a clear, sunny autumn day we thought how perfect it was… until we started to photograph. The sun cast such heavy shadows across the marble headstones that our automatic cameras couldn’t cope, and when it came to photographing the shiny granite headstones, all we got were shots of the photographer reflected off the granite. So if anyone can forecast when the next dry, dull, not-too-cold day will be, I would be very grateful.

The photography is almost completed. I’ve booked two training sessions at the Records Office and we’ll soon be absorbed in researching some of the more obscure names that we’ve photographed. You can be sure there will be problems. It won’t be as easy as they make it look on the TV programme, ‘Who do you think you are’ but I could be wrong so watch this space. I’ll be blogging about it as the project proceeds, warts and all!


If you're local to Leicester and you'd like to join our group of volunteers then let me know in the comments below or email me at rosalind.kathryn @ gmail.com

22 comments:

  1. I wish someone was making a TV programme about what your are doing Ros. I think it is fascinating, important and rewarding. Funny how sunlight can make conditions difficult for all sorts of things! Looking forward to the next update xx

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    1. I would be in such a state of paranoia if this was a TV programme that I'd probably become lost for words and totally useless. I think I'll stick with the way it is. It certainly is interesting and thanks, Val.

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  2. I agree with the it would make a great programme and we could all see what you're doing. I would be like you Ros bending down and getting up again is sometimes impossible. Lots of luck with the records part it sounds so interesting.

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    1. It eases the pain just a little to know it's not just me but I'd love to be fitter. None of the others appear to have this problem. Thanks, Anne, I think it is going to be fascinating.

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  3. There's laways the unexpected, isn't there - which always happens when you're least expecting it. Photographing graves with fading letters must be a night mare. I agree with Val and Anne: it would make a great programme. Am awaiting book!!

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    1. Oh yes, Carol. Those fading letters. I haven't mentioned how we're going to tackle those yet because we haven't worked it out ourselves. People are talking about lights and reflector sheets, others want to use light shadings of chalk. I'll post up a report of that problem when we tackle it!

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  4. If only I lived closer - this is such a wonderful project. Just think of all the wonderful stories hidden in those gravestones.

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  5. You are one of the reasons I will continue to blog, this is so interesting and I feel lucky to have come back to blogging just in time to learn about the next chapter in this wonderful project. Living in a drought situation, I understand about sun and cameras. We learned so much about our garden and next year, we will have a variety but much less of each veggie. And begin the garden a month and a half earlier.

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    1. Thank you, Inger, that is such a kind thing to say. I love visiting your blog too.

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  6. impressive project and the care you are taking to do it right is awesome. I find this fascinating and shall enjoy your updates. If I was on your end of the world, I would come out to help. All the best

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  7. That is "some" undertaking. Yay for you. I know you want to be able to read what is on the head stone but that picture with the vine is absolutely inspiring. I'm a fan of old head stones. You must find some much older stones in Britain then we do here.

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    1. In our Cemetery they date back to 1902 but there are indeed older ones in others cemeteries here in the UK.

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  8. What an interesting thing to do.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  9. Looking forward to reading about your findings.... ~Miriam

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  10. I'm impressed Ros, its going to be a good project. I do live locally, love history and photography, but sadly can't commit any time due to full-time work and family. I am really looking forward to the results though and wish you lots of luck.

    Its going to be such an adventure...have you got BBC Radio Leicester involved yet? I'm sure they would be very interested.

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  11. I'm not much of a photographer, so I never realized how difficult it is to get the lighting just right until my daughter got into it. I wouldn't have the patience!

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  12. Hi Ros .. like the others I say 'well done' .. and what an interesting concept you're following through. So much for us to hear about .. fascinating journey and project ... I too wish I was nearer .. in another life Market Harborough wasn't so far away ... Eastbourne somewhat further! But I shall enjoy reading your updates and story lines ...

    Cheers Hilary

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  13. Thanks for the update. This is such a terrific undertaking, in spite of the challenges it's posed. On very sunny days, would it work if you worked in teams, so one person could shade the stone while the other took the picture? Are you doing rubbings of the stones, too? Sounds fascinating. I'm not a fan of cemeteries, but if I lived there, I'd love to help you. (We could give each other a hand up up off the ground...)

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  14. What fun you are having! I wish I was near enough to join you!

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