Monday, October 17, 2011


 I'm hanging out on Google+ more and more these days.  Not really keeping track of the stories of the family, though.  There are too many great photos to see, and enjoy, which kind of put me in my place in a "Well, I like to take shots, but I've got a long way to go, really" sort of way.

But that's neither here or there.

What I wanted to say was that I'm following a bunch of great photographers, and sometimes, they sponsor events, or little get-togethers, like the coastal photo walk that I went on last month.

A week or so back, I noticed that one of the guys that I follow was hosting a "Spooky Haunted Cemetery Photo-Walk".

Sounds good!  I RSVP'd, and then I started getting excited about taking photos that would be DIFFERENT.

No horses.  No kids.  No beaches.  No 'gotta take a photo because someone's mom isn't here to take it herself'.  Just me, a camera, darkness, and the whispers of the dead.

I mosied over to Fremont (it's a bit of a trek, and I was very happy for my GPS), and made it to the meet-up place (An artists' studio) with some time to spare.  So I put on lipstick.  Gotta make a good first impression.
This group of photographers was way closer to my own style than the photogs at my last meet-up.  The last one was loaded with semi-pro shooters, with thousands and thousands of dollars of gear.  Not that I'm knocking that kind of set up, but man, I was feeling a whole lot of intimidated that time.

This time, it was just folks like me.  We take photos for fun.  We do other things, and we don't have high-end gear, and that's just fine with us.

After about a half hour in the studio, waiting for stragglers, and giving us all a chance to use the potty (I didn't relish the idea of hiding behind a grave stone in the middle of the night, if you get my drift...), we headed to our cars, and convoyed to the site.

We were at the old St. Joseph Cemetery (not the cemetery associated with the big old church, but a lesser known historical site just nestled at the side of the road.  I might not have even noticed it was there (and I certainly wouldn't have noticed it in the dark, which it was by the time we were on the road.)
We met up in the tiny parking lot, our 15 cars Tetrised (thanks, Jeanine, for that great descriptor word!) into a parking lot that probably would ordinarily hold 6 or 7.  We all got out our gear, and then we were set loose on the spooky dark graveyard.

I had borrowed Ken's Firesword (Honestly, if you've never seen one of these in action, go look it up.  The thing is a BEAST!), but it was too bright of a light to light my path, without lighting up the neighbourhood, so I just flashed it every once in a while, to make sure I wasn't treading on anything nasty.  I was searching for old gravestones, but I especially wanted to find an old angel, or some other old piece of statuary.

My first finds weren't all that spectacular.  But they were still pretty cool.

I loved the deep relief in the carving on the flowers and draperies on Frank Brown's monument.  In the background there, you can see someone else, shooting at another gravesite.  I believe they were lighting their subjects with flashlights, and maybe a headlamp or two.  This shot is a 24 second exposure, with me moving around the site, and flashing the Firesword for just the briefest of times.  I was really using it like a speedlight, or a flash unit that could flash for longer than the 1/200th of a second that a usual flash fires.

Here's a wider shot of the whole thing.  I think there were probably close to two dozen of us moving around this site, and we all had different types of lighting that we wanted to explore.

This is a 22 second exposure, and I wasn't as liberal with the Firesword, hence the muted tones.  You can see a headlamp moving through the frame at the right.  I like how the little cross over there is so well lit.
There were some pretty old graves in the site.  And some famous local names, too.  I particularly liked this one, of a "Native Of France"

Gotta keep the Frenchness alive.  Even if I have the worst broken anglo accent of them all.

What's that?  Are we being visited by Francois?

Um, not unless Francois is a woman who has a very shiny watch, and very dirty running shoes...

Let's move on.

What do you know?  It's TRUE what they sing about John Brown's body! (37 second exposure.  You can really see the color in the sky, highlighted by the sodium vapor lamp in the back yard of a neighbor's house)

Whoops.  Someone didn't like us making fun...

And hey... why are my spectral arms all flabby?  Shouldn't I be all lithe and ghostly?  I can't even catch a break as a spirit.

I was almost done for the night.  I'd packed up my gear, and was heading back to the car, when I finally came across my angel.

Coolest find of the night, I think.  I took about a hundred shots of this little guy.
The spiderwebs were a bonus, too!

And there's the artist, taking a break on the marble wing.

It was great fun.  I would NEVER have thought to go shoot in a cemetery, and I know that I would never do it alone, but it just seemed like such a great idea when there was a group of like-minded folks around me, cheering me on.  And then, at the end of the evening, we were chatting in the dark, and showing off our photos, and the group organizer, who was VERY generous in his praise of my photos, starts talking about Ansel Adams.  Turns out, he used to work with him.  So now my Ansel Adams number is 1.  I may still have a million degrees before I get to Kevin Bacon, but I'm only one link away from the famous Yosemite B&W photographer.

And I'll take that as a win.

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