Ancient headstones can never be replaced. They may be the only historical documents remaining from that time and place. Many headstones are so worn as to be completely unreadable — or so they appear to the unaided eye! The “Magic Mirror” technique throws the writing into sharp relief. The words quite literally jump out at you!
The Magic Mirror is a “green” technique. It does not risk any harm to the headstone. All we do is shine sun light across the face of the inscription!
These two photographs are of the same headstone! Can you see how the writing appears and disappears? This headstone looked exactly the same to the naked eye. We needed the Magic Mirror to read the inscription.
The Blue italics text are the photo descriptions. You can skip over the text to continue reading this Magic Mirror Cemetery Photography tutorial. Click on any of the photographs to see it full size.
Left, Mary F. Herring: One of two photos of the same headstone, showing the “magic mirror” effect. In each photo, the highlighted inscription is visible and the other inscription is not. It is the same effect with the naked eye — we had to use the mirror to make out the writing at all.
Right, Gideon F. Herring: Carefully compare this photo to the “Mary F. Herring” photo of the same headstone, to see the dramatic difference the “magic mirror” makes in readability. We use the mirror to shine sunlight ACROSS the face of the headstone, causing shadows in the barely-visible inscriptions.
“Both on same headstone one above the other, Mary F., Born Aug 15 1848, died Aug 28, 1852. Gideon F., Born Dec. 19, 1852, died July 10, 1854. Children of G.H. and H.A. Herring. Brother and sister. Mary F. Herring was a daughter of George Washington Herring and Hester Ann Kemp, granddaughter of John Herring and Lucy Carver, and, Walter Kemp and Jerusha Key. She was my great grandAunt.”