Photo 52 - Week 3

EDIT:  I tweaked the photos in this set and bumped their exposure a little bit.  Seeing them after the fact and compared to my other photos, I noticed they were underexposed by about 2/3 of a stop.  I also chose a new "picture for week 3" (the last one in this post).  It's my blog and my photos so I'm allowed to. :)

Perhaps fitting for a bleakly cold Illinois weekend in January, this post is about death.  To the left is a shot from the past weekend's excursion.  Contrary to last week's colorful imagery, this set has a much more muted pallette.  I took this photo from Mt. Hope Cemetary - this is looking across Kirby/Florida (I think I was in Urbana).

While not a particularly stunning or creative shot, I just liked the "feel" of that little side street.  And of course, like everything else, it gets more moody when converted to black and white.

My goal for this week was to shot a cemetary.  On Friday, I brought my camera to work, hoping to repeat my success from Week 2 and shoot at St. Mary's Cemetary, which is, again, just a couple of blocks from work.  However, the whole place was fenced in and I couldn't figure out a way to get in without breaking a few laws and invoking the ire of the sleeping dead within.

A little bummed out (my week was quickly winding down and I still hadn't shot anything for the week!), I peered through the ivy-covered chain link fence and spied a splash of color.  In a dumpster was a pile of colorful (albeit snow covered) artificial floral arrangements.  Leftovers from a funeral or just the result of overzealous groundskeeping, I loved the sad symbolism of these flowers laying forgotten in a dumpster.

(hey, I warned you this post was about death)

So, I vowed to return to campus on Saturday and shoot at the much larger (and supposedly more open to the public) Mt. Hope cemetary.  About 2:30 or so I drove onto campus and started looking for a good spot to park.  Much of the cemetary was fenced in and there were cars parked at the adjacent funeral home -- which had the most obvious access to the grounds.  Not wanting to draw attention to me and my camera, I looked for a better spot to park.  I did find a parking lot that afforded a gap in the fence where I could enter the cemetary.  It might not have been the intended way to get in, but I was sure I wasn't breaking the law and I stayed on the path, so not to incur any bad JuJu.

Now, I have shot in Catholic cemetaries in New Mexico that are full of effigies of Christ or the Virgin Mary and lots of kitschy tombstones -- basically a lot of potential for great images.  This cemetary was VERY clean and the blanket of undisturbed snow and countless grey tombstones really didn't make for exciting shooting.  I tried to find unique compositions and tried hard not to make the subject of each photo to be a person's tombstone.  That seemed to be a little too intrusive.

Above is a photo I actually had to edit in Photoshop.  I masked out the cross and christmas bow and made the rest of the image in black and white.  I just loved seeing the burst of color in that pure snow, and wanted to capture it as I felt it.

I walked the path for about 30 minutes, and found out my battery was getting low.  So, I decided to walk back to the car, fairly satisfied with the couple-dozen shots I was able to get.  Then, literarally feet from my car, I spied a little foot path going off the sidewalk and toward what looked like an informal grave marker.  It was flanked by two pinwheels dancing in the winter breeze.  It was inscribed in Arabic and was so close to the chainlink fence I really wondered it was just a symbolic marker, or if someone was buried there.

I was a little heartbroken at what I presume to be a Muslim being an outsider -- shoved to the chain link fence and closer to a dumpster than any other grave -- amongst the hundreds (thousands) of Christian graves at this Cemetary. 

This was the last shot I got before my battery died, and after some deliberation, it ends up being my shot for Week 3.