Del Muerto

A statue of a Nun is bathed in the afternoon light.

When I was in Rio Rancho for Dylan's graduation, I snuck off with my brother Andy to snap pictures of a local graveyard.  Andy has always had a love of shooting things of such as graveyards and statues honoring the dead -- things which many tend to ignore.  He has an eye for seeing what we would normally try not to see, or would otherwise ignore.  Finding beauty in the old, long-forgotten stone guardians that punctuate an old graveyard such as the one we shot at.

A richly-textured angel statue stands guard.

There was a family there at the time, presumably visiting a relatives's grave.  We made sure and waited respectfully for the family to leave before starting to shoot, and were always hyper-vigilant to not tread on actual graves or disturb or deface anything.

The graveyard was in pretty poor shape.  Weeds growing everywhere, Christmas decorations left up, dirt that had been washed away by seasons of rain, threatening to disturb those resting there.

  

I think memorial (particularly religious) art and statues such as these are some of the oldest forms of art, and by definition hold more meaning than most contemporary forms.  Whether the statues are there to guard the dead, ward away evil spirits or to simply honor those resting there; those silent, well-weathered witnesses speak more to the fragility of the memory of our loved ones than its resiliance.

The Sky Makes the Desert

HDR Image of a beautiful New Mexican sky

This is my first attempt at serious HDR.  I bit the bullet and bought a licencse for Photomatix Lite.  Photoshop CS3 has some tone-mapping options for HDR photos, but Photomatix blows CS3 out of the water in that department, and while CS5 is supposedly much better, I'd rather spend $40 than $400, at least for now.

The above image is pretty much out-of-the-box from Photomatix Pro.  I had taken 3 bracketed exposures of the desert sky behind my house in New Mexico a couple years ago (makes you wonder why I left, huh?).

If you aren't familiar with HDR (High Dynamic Range), it's basically a way of taking multiple exposures of the same scene and combining them to make a very realistic looking image.  I'm not nearly as good at explaining things as wikipedia, so I will direct you there if you are really interested.

I just set my camera to Auto Exposure Bracket at +2/-2, and probably shot this hand-held.  The subject is far enough away that any movement I made can be "fixed" with image alignment.  Most of the time you'd want a tripod to do it "right".

These are the exposures straight from the camera.  You can tell each one has different levels of detail for different parts of the sky or the ground.

   

There are countless examples of HDR "gone wrong", but I think good HDR is one that brings out the image as it would look if you were actually there.  And I think this particular image does that pretty well.