Why We Need Cemetery Photography

Freshly Crushed Headstone

Freshly Crushed Headstone

This is one rea­son ceme­tery pho­tog­ra­phy can be impor­tant. Many head­stones are being actively destroyed! Click on the image for the grue­some detail.

This is in Pio­neer Ceme­tery, Ful­ton, Call­away County, Mis­souri. Many of the head­stones had mul­ti­ple tire tracks across them. It looked like some­one in a 4-wheeler or ATV was going in cir­cles all over the cemetery.

The face of at least one head­stone was freshly chipped/scraped, and they are being fur­ther cracked.

This ceme­tery has had severe van­dal­ism in the past. The still-muddy tracks show the van­dal­ism con­tin­ues. Yeah, some­one was just rid­ing around, but that per­son was actively destroy­ing what remains of this 19th Cen­tury cemetery.


Magic Mirror Cemetery Photography


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.

Mary F. Herring

Mary F. Herring

Gideon F. Herring

Gideon F. Herring

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.”

Con­tinue read­ing