Learning Curve and the First Shots with my New Camera

When I was little I would get really excited about an idea, or what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’d put one-hundred percent of my energy toward that project or career move… before changing my mind the next day and moving onto something else. Remember those days? I had the greatest parents ever. They’d completely humor me and roll with it when I decided I was going to build a massive bridge that would start from the side of the house and travel all the way across the lake that was an acre away and down the hill. Or smile and give me encouragement when I had every intention of building a water slide park on the side of the house. In each of these examples that I just mentioned, I literally began digging. That’s how serious I was about those ideas… and most of the time no one judged me for my dream of the week.


The above photo really ended up being an accident. I was holding the camera up so high to capture the urn that I didn’t see my car in the background. But… I kind of like it. 


You probably know that I take a lot of cemetery photos, which is something I started doing less than two years ago. After the really cool snowy shots that I captured recently on Christmas Eve, I got inspired to invest in a real camera (a Canon Rebel T3i) and an extra fancy lens for nerdy, artistic shots (due to arrive Monday). Before this week, my equipment consisted of my iPhone, and I’d occasionally edit them using the Camera+ app on my phone. Also before this week, I knew absolutely nothing about a real camera and jumped right into reading and watching videos before my camera arrived. Boy have I been going through a learning curve… and it’s ongoing, obviously. Not only am I figuring out the camera and photography, but using Photoshop Elements is blowing my mind and taking a lot of time to figure out. I haven’t done anything too fancy with these photos though. What do you think about my watermark? 



So for the time being I’m really excited about my new toy and want to be a photographer when I grow up. All of these photos are from my first trip out of the house with the camera for practice shots. They’re from Linn Cemetery in Wentzville, Missouri, a location I’ve visited and photographed many times before. I took a lot more than you see here, so these were the best. I would have stayed longer, but it was so cold and my fingers at times couldn’t even feel the buttons on the camera.


I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned her or not, but much of my recent inspiration for wanting to be a cemetery photographer when I grow up, is the amazing and talented Mary Homick of Historic Cemeteries on Facebook. It’s her fault. She has a book and some other projects coming out that are very exciting! Please take a look at her beautiful work. 


If you follow my blog much, you probably already recognize this stone as belonging to my buddy Johnnie, from my recent grave adoption posts. 


A close up of Johnnie’s headstone. 



So hopefully in a week or two I’ll have all of this mastered and I’ll be a rich and successful cemetery photographer. (Did you laugh? You were supposed to.) At least that’s my plan this week. I know one thing. These crazy ideas get expensive really quick. I’m having a lot of fun though. I’d LOVE to get your feedback or suggestions, especially if you have photography or Photoshop expertise, or are named Mary Homick!



You might also like:

Christmas Eve at Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

A Lonely Old Country Cemetery at Magic Hour – Bellflower, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Walnut Grove Cemetery, Boonville Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)

Adopting Graves 2013: My Thoughts and a Look Back on a New Tradition (Big Séance.com)

Images of America: Lexington, Missouri (Big Séance.com)



About Patrick Keller

Patrick Keller is an educator, blogger, and the host of the Big Séance Podcast, which is a place for paranerds to have an open discussion on all things paranormal, but specifically topics like ghosts and hauntings, paranormal research, spirit communication, psychics and mediums, and life after death. He’s the founder of the now inactive Missouri Spirit Seekers and has spent a lot of time experimenting with spirit communication tools and techniques, such as EVP. Patrick also has a passion for spending hours at a time in cemeteries and loves cemetery photography. Visit BigSeance.com! View all posts by Patrick Keller

15 responses to “Learning Curve and the First Shots with my New Camera

  • Mary Green

    Great shots; a lot of detail!

  • LeeAllenHoward

    Awesome pictures, Patrick. I look forward to more on your haunted jaunts.

  • Brandie Sellers

    LOVE IT! And that’s the camera I’ve been having my eye on for a wile. A lot of Youtube people use it to film on. Do they ever have sales on those things?!? I want one so bad, you don’t even know…But I, too, don’t know how to use one. It’s one of my goals on my 101 in 1001 🙂 I like the pictures and I really like the last one especially! The watermark is good, too 🙂

    • Patrick Keller

      Thanks for the feedback, Brandie. It’s sad, I know… but I wasn’t too concerned with sales. I had to have it so I bought it. 🙂 I have Amazon Prime, so that saved me some bucks. I haven’t tried the video function yet. Is it really supposed to be that good? Your list of goals was awesome… and massive. 🙂 Good luck!

  • Annabelle

    Hi Patrick,

    Luv your blog and your posts. During the holidays my husband sent me a link to your blog and suggested I read you post on “The Uninvited”. So glad I did, it was a wonderful read and funny.
    Read the October 31st post and sorry to hear about the negative feed back on Twitter but I’m not surprised, always someone out there to spoil the fun. Anyway, I think you have an excellent blog and I’ll keep reading, maybe share some spooky stuff down the road.

    p.s. I still need to learn my camera after owning it for the past three years but sometimes the accidental shots are the ones that turn out the most interesting….i.e. the monster that materialized on my house steps October 2012.
    The picture of the car by the cemetery is lovely, I particularly luv the way the urn stands silent and towering, as if concealing a unseen watcher. Enjoy the camera.


    • Patrick Keller

      Annabelle. I’m truly honored. Thank you so much for stopping by lately, and for your kind words. After you mentioned my “Uninvited” post, I had to go back to remember it. That was a nice (yet lonely) autumn fall night. I miss fall. 🙂

  • Brandie Sellers

    And p.s. I was exactly like that as a kid as well! Always dreaming big and totally excited about it and whatever that dream was – it was going to happen! Not much has changed…Like my candles for example… 🙂

  • Pat W.

    I agree with you about Mary…she truly is inspiring. You are in Missouri. We are in Illinois, right across the river from St. Louis. If you’re up this way, I highly recommend that you visit Bellefontaine Cemetery. Amazing architecture, headstones, statues, etc. and lots of famous people interred there. Tennessee Williams, Gen. Sherman, Drede Scott, and check out the Busch mausoleaum…a gorgeous piece of Gothic. Across the road is Calvary, with not quite as many goodies, but still worth it. The two cemeteries have a couple of weeping angels as well.
    Your work is so good already…love the first shot of the urn, especially!

    • Patrick Keller

      Thanks so much for the encouragement, Pat! Guess what? I’ve been to Bellefontaine and Calvary and I LOOOOOVE them! I wish I lived closer, because I’d be there all the time. Honestly, I was going to try to make it there tomorrow on a snow day, but I think the temps and the fact that it’s so far away with the snow still on the ground, is going to keep me away. 🙁 I really wanted snowy shots. Ah well… Maybe it’ll still be there this weekend? I doubt it.

      By the way, here’s my previous post on Bellefontaine, from about a year and a half ago. http://bigseance.com/2012/09/09/bellefontaine-cemetery-st-louis-missouri/

  • Renae Rude - The Paranormalist

    Yes, I laughed, but only in rueful recognition. And I like the watermark – it’s clean and legible and I suddenly really envy you your real domain name. Maybe a touch lighter or more transparent, but I go back and forth on the myself. (When I remember to watermark at all.)

    I’ve been think of taking on a photo a week challenge this year. Also of creating some kind of hashtag for paranormal / horror fans on Instagram. Possibly even combine the two.

    Because I clearly need more to manage, considering how well I’m already doing with juggling the blog, FB, twitter, etc.


    • Patrick Keller

      I’ve been a slow learner on the Watermark. Joe helped me make that one and made it so all I have to do is paste it and re-size it. I like the darker watermark, but I’ve found that on a few of them I’ve had to make another one in white. I’m getting better. 🙂 I’m also wondering why BigSeance is the watermark. Should I use my name? Both?

      I haven’t studied your photo challenge thing yet this evening. I’m thinking it might be too much for my brain this time around… but we’ll see.

  • Heather

    Wow! Srsly Patrick, you just captured those amazing photos right off the bat?!?! I think this venture will last longer than a week, jus guessin 😉
    I love photography as well. The most commonplace things can become such beautiful works of art. Good job! I would like a signed copy of your first cemetery photo book btw 😉

    Love how you live with passion, me too! I would totally help you build a water slide park, that would be super awesome!

    • Patrick Keller

      Oh I would TOTALLY let you help me with the water park! I also had some really kick butt schools in the attic… and haunted houses. 🙂

      Thank you so much for the comments and encouragement. Yeah… this was my first time out. My second time out was not as successful, at least as far as quantity goes, but I got a few really cool shots. Can’t wait for it to warm up so I can have more time and patience.

      I’m going to need to learn more about how to save them, etc. before I make it into a photo book. 🙂 They’re a little grainy… and some of them are not as focused as I thought they were. I suspect some of that is from editing them too much. :-/

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