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Author Topic: Headstones - Various Treatments  (Read 8605 times)
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Jeff D. Welker
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« on: June 17, 2015, 08:57:26 AM »

My friends;

As an offshoot of some genealogy related photography I've been doing at the Mesa Cemetery, I have also been photographing some of the more interesting and older headstones. As you know, I generally go for a monochrome conversion. However, this particular location has me trying three different processes. Please give them a look and tell my your preference. I would be especially grateful if you would explain why you prefer one over the others.

BTW, the late afternoon light in the cemetery is terrific as if filters through the ancient evergreen trees that predominate.

Thank you;

Jeff

Headstone-3  is a standard "white balanced" color image. Headstone-2 is a desaturated "vintage look" color image. Headstone-0 is my typical monochrome conversion.


* Headstone-3.jpg (498.87 KB, 1040x693 - viewed 156 times.)

* Headstone-2.jpg (373.34 KB, 1040x693 - viewed 169 times.)

* Headstone.jpg (374.36 KB, 1040x693 - viewed 167 times.)
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 09:00:10 AM by Jeff D. Welker » Logged

Jeff D. Welker
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Tower Guy
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2015, 09:25:58 AM »

Hi Jeff,  here goes. All versions have something to give the viewer. The vibrant color photo is pleasing as a photograph, however the mood is a little vibrant for the subject matter, plus the background catches your eye more. If this were a relative or close friends marker I think it would be the way you would want to remember that person, full of color and life.
The second "vintage look" is a nice shot indicating aging of time and subject. My personal preference for this type of treatment is more for older buildings or people dressed in vintage period clothing.  Just me.
Monochrome, classic, it shows aging, mood and really highlights the architecture of the stone without the distraction of the flowers. I can understand the usual monochrome for this subject matter, there is a certain respect that this gives the viewer for the subject.

Well Jeff you ask, as with all photography subjects, if you like it, it's great.  Wink
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Jeff D. Welker
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 01:08:00 PM »

Thanks Harvey, that is just the type of feedback I'm looking for. It is a delicate thing for me to photograph a headstone of someone who is unknown to me. That is why I don't ever show the deceased's name unless it is of a historical nature like the RAF boys that were killed training at Falcon Field in WWII. I hope more will opine.
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Jeff D. Welker
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Jay Beckman
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2015, 01:16:30 PM »

I actually prefer the full-color version Jeff.  It already has good chunks of monochromatic in it and I think the splashes of color from the flowers make nice "islands" for the eye.  Overall though, it still looks a bit "muted"
Honestly, I think both the "vintage" look and the B&W are kind of "easy ways out" on this shot.

The thing I'll call your attention to though are the five pronounced "sky holes" across the trees in the back.  I'd crop the top more or else clone to fill them in.  They are so much brighter than the overall scene that my eyes keep jumping up there.

I like the angle (gives it an anonymous pov) and the selective focus yielding soft foreground and background is great.
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Jay Beckman
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2015, 02:30:05 PM »

Thanks Jay, I always appreciate your perspective and opinion. Going in I thought these old headstones would be perfect in B&W. However, I keep coming back to the color versions for some reason (see another example below). Due to its location in the cemetery, the headstone above is best photographed with the lens pointing due west. As you correctly mention, I should have waited until the sun was lower in the horizon or gone with more of a pano framing to reduce the distraction of the "sky holes". I don't think a first thing in the morning shot works with the bright light directly on the headstone. Since I've got more family work to do there, I'll have other chances to improve in the future.

Keep the comments coming folks.


* Headstone v.2.jpg (353.77 KB, 1040x1040 - viewed 169 times.)
« Last Edit: June 17, 2015, 02:33:12 PM by Jeff D. Welker » Logged

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Jay Beckman
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2015, 03:16:38 PM »

I just think that color lends a "warmth" and "humanity" to what might otherwise be perceived as a "cold" shooting location...
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2015, 05:25:20 PM »

All good points made above. Jay makes a good point about the cropping of the bright sky areas. Also I think Harvey and Jay agree in one sense. If this was someone I knew I'd prefer to look at the color version. The monochrome is definitely more somber and a valid treatment for the subject if somber was the intent. In that case I'd probably go for a more nightmarish look. The middle one is as Harvey mentioned well suited to a shot of a diner or 52 Studebaker.  I do enjoy that look in some applications. All a matter of what feeling you are trying communicate or simply like for reasons that need no explanation. By the way this sort of dialogue is something I'd like to see more of. Very constructive. I have opinions but I am also very open to ways of seeing that I might not have considered or dismissed previously.
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Joe Copalman
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2015, 03:22:47 PM »

Another vote in favor of cropping or cloning the "light holes" Jay mentioned.  They serve the same function that speedlights behind landing gear on night shots of aircraft do - they draw the eye away from the subject. 

To me, all three processing approaches work, but each seems to tell a different story. 

The full-color shot conveys a "life wins" kind of vibe, like even among a small neighborhood of the dead, life is vibrant and unstoppable.

The desaturated shot hits that vintage nail right on the head.  It looks like something you'd see in a parents' photo album, like the grave of a great-grandparent buried somewhere they've only visited once.  Probably the most neutral of the three.

The monochrome shot has a "death wins" vibe, conveying a sense of cold permanence. 

Of course, these are all how I see the shots through my eyes, they may hit others differently.  Regardless, I still think it comes down to what kind of story you're trying to tell.
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2015, 07:47:49 PM »

Of the three, I prefer the full color.  As the grave is decorated, the flower colors are key.
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