Ugly Hedgehog® - Photography Forum
Shooting Old Headstones in Cemetary
If you want to reply, then register here. Registration is free and your account is created instantly, so you can post right away.
Page: 1 2 3 4 next>>
Aug 30, 2017 23:13:36   #
s_vanmeter
 
I just recently moved to a small community in Central Texas that has a cemetery with a lot of history. I am looking for advise on how to shoot old headstones so that the worn lettering can be photographed so that it can be read. I was thinking of trying bracketing, but don't know if I would gain anything by doing this. Some of the worn headstones are from the !850's range. I shoot with a Nikon D5300 and use the 18-55mm kit lens. Any advise?


(Download)

| Reply
Aug 30, 2017 23:37:13   #
SkyKing (a regular here)
 
...spray them with water...?

| Reply
Aug 30, 2017 23:47:54   #
Haydon (a regular here)
 
Try side lighting closer to the edge of dark.

| Reply
Aug 30, 2017 23:52:11   #
Rongnongno
 
A skittering light may help to bring the relief out but would cause other problems.

Best bet, in my opinion is to be careful with focusing, exposure and take notes.

If the names so important to be readable you can always use a piece of paper and trace them out on the paper then using this tracing create a mask in order to enhance them... Lots of hard work here.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 00:04:44   #
via the lens (a regular here)
 
s_vanmeter wrote:
I just recently moved to a small community in Central Texas that has a cemetery with a lot of history. I am looking for advise on how to shoot old headstones so that the worn lettering can be photographed so that it can be read. I was thinking of trying bracketing, but don't know if I would gain anything by doing this. Some of the worn headstones are from the !850's range. I shoot with a Nikon D5300 and use the 18-55mm kit lens. Any advise?


Maybe it is not possible...however, the best time and best way to get texture (in this case the writing if it will show up at all) on an image is to use "raking light." Raking light is side lighting that is low to the ground, although it can come from overhead to hit a wall (or headstone) at a specific point in time. So, that would mean just after dawn or before dusk usually. Focus directly on a piece of writing using a small aperture, which could be difficult given a low light situation, but the tripod will save you from worrying about camera movement at slow shutter speeds. So, put your camera on a tripod for steadiness. Take the photo to the right of the histogram (assuming RAW) or near to the right if shooting JPG, this will give you the most "information" in your image to work with. In post, pull down the highlights and lighten the shadows. Use Clarity as a local adjustment over the writing. You may need to lighten or darken the writing as the situation dictates. At least, that's how I would try it.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 00:31:20   #
happy sailor
 
There was a genealogy cemetery program up here to take pictures of all of the headstones in the cemeteries. They advised to use sidewalk chalk, yes the ones for kids to draw on the sidewalk with, chalk the headstone and then take the picture, works very well, the first rain will take it all off and it does not damage the headstone.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 00:57:35   #
Haydon (a regular here)
 
happy sailor wrote:
There was a genealogy cemetery program up here to take pictures of all of the headstones in the cemeteries. They advised to use sidewalk chalk, yes the ones for kids to draw on the sidewalk with, chalk the headstone and then take the picture, works very well, the first rain will take it all off and it does not damage the headstone.


I'm not so sure even temporarily performing this would be considered acceptable behavior. Some might see it as defacing and disrespectful. Imagine how a relative might feel if they saw you doing this. Regardless of it washing off, immediate reaction might not be what you would appreciate or for that matter them.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 03:21:57   #
jerryc41 (a regular here)
 
Rongnongno wrote:
A skittering light may help to bring the relief out but would cause other problems.


http://www.thefreedictionary.com/skittering

Maybe try a rubbing, like they do in European cathedrals. I don't know how passersby or cemetery officials would react, though.

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Gravestone-Rubbing

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 04:27:43   #
tradio
 
Light painting.
Show up at night, BOO, tripod, and with a flashlight try different angles until you find the right angle. You may be able to then come back during the day, whether morning or evening, which ever most imitates the angle of light you found that works.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 05:27:14   #
jerryc41 (a regular here)
 
tradio wrote:
Light painting.
Show up at night, BOO, tripod, and with a flashlight try different angles until you find the right angle. You may be able to then come back during the day, whether morning or evening, which ever most imitates the angle of light you found that works.


A graveyard at night? Are you crazy?

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 06:27:59   #
winterrose
 
via the lens wrote:
Maybe it is not possible...however, the best time and best way to get texture (in this case the writing if it will show up at all) on an image is to use "raking light." Raking light is side lighting that is low to the ground, although it can come from overhead to hit a wall (or headstone) at a specific point in time. So, that would mean just after dawn or before dusk usually. Focus directly on a piece of writing using a small aperture, which could be difficult given a low light situation, but the tripod will save you from worrying about camera movement at slow shutter speeds. So, put your camera on a tripod for steadiness. Take the photo to the right of the histogram (assuming RAW) or near to the right if shooting JPG, this will give you the most "information" in your image to work with. In post, pull down the highlights and lighten the shadows. Use Clarity as a local adjustment over the writing. You may need to lighten or darken the writing as the situation dictates. At least, that's how I would try it.
Maybe it is not possible...however, the best time ... (show quote)


Fallacy: exposing to the right just makes the image lighter, it does not provide any more "information" to work with.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 06:37:37   #
Mr. B
 
s_vanmeter wrote:
I just recently moved to a small community in Central Texas that has a cemetery with a lot of history. I am looking for advise on how to shoot old headstones so that the worn lettering can be photographed so that it can be read. I was thinking of trying bracketing, but don't know if I would gain anything by doing this. Some of the worn headstones are from the !850's range. I shoot with a Nikon D5300 and use the 18-55mm kit lens. Any advise?


The best method available without taking the chance of damaging the old stones' surface is to set a mirror up to direct the sunlight across the face of the stone at about a 30 degree angle. As president of an historical (established ca. 1717) I can tell you that we get really agitated when someone rubs a stone...with anything!

http://www.genealogy.com/articles/research/64_gravestones.html
http://www.wikihow.com/Photograph-a-Tombstone
http://saveagrave.net/hard-to-read-stones

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 07:09:02   #
fuminous
 
There are some good suggestions but, you may find your best assistance in Photoshop using channels, LAB or, in Lightroom, converting to black & white and playing with the luminance sliders. You'd be surprised at the amount of information within the image but recognizable/useable only at specific wave lengths.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 10:10:56   #
turp77
 
Many old Cemeteries here in Connecticut post at the entrance, rubbings are prohibited. I have a cheep framed 4 foot door mirror I mounted onto a piece of 1/4" plywood and put on independent adjustable legs so I can control horizontal and vertical position and as stated above bring it to the side around 30 degrees more or less to cause a shadow in the lettering. This way there is no damage to the stone and you get the highest contrast. I always leave the site the way I found it.

| Reply
Aug 31, 2017 10:41:11   #
Rab-Eye (a regular here)
 
Haydon wrote:
Try side lighting closer to the edge of dark.


My thought exactly.

| Reply
Page: 1 2 3 4 next>>
If you want to reply, then register here. Registration is free and your account is created instantly, so you can post right away.
UglyHedgehog.com - Forum
Copyright 2011-2019 Ugly Hedgehog, Inc.