For the full set of photos, visit the Saint Peter’s Cemetery album on my Flikr page.
Other recent cemetery photography posts:
For the full set of photos, visit the Saint Peter’s Cemetery album on my Flikr page.
Please enjoy the second episode of The Big Séance Podcast! I absolutely loved talking with Mary about our shared passion of Cemetery Photography!
Mary Homick, Cemetery Photographer and Infrared Photography artist, shares her passion, and encourages folks to see the beauty in a cemetery.
Also, check out her book, Historic Cemeteries, on Amazon.
Thanks for sharing with us, Mary!
Photos referred to in the episode:
The Big Seance Podcast can be found right here, on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Stitcher, Google Play Music, and iHeart Radio. Please subscribe, submit a rating, or share with a fellow paranerd! Do you have any comments or feedback? Please contact me at Patrick@BigSeance.com. Consider recording your voice feedback directly from your device on my SpeakPipe page! You can also call the show and leave feedback at (775) 583-5563 (or 7755-TELL-ME). I would love to include your voice feedback in a future show. The candles are already lit, so come on in and join the séance!
It hasn’t changed a bit, this old cemetery. Until two years ago when I visited it last, it had been over 20 years since I’d seen it. I remembered several of the individual headstones like I had just been there the day before. It’s weird, the things our brains choose to remember and hold on to. Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time here as my grandparents lived nearby. In fact, one of my earliest childhood memories is of an uncle of mine giving me a ride through this cemetery on a four-wheeler, and coming back with a collection of pine cones. I’m sure it wasn’t very deep back then, but I remember strolling through this grass and over the hill… and pondering life… and probably death. I don’t remember my reasons for enjoying my time there so much, but I do recall having general conversations with any spirit wanting to listen. I also recall my Bama (grandma) packing a lunch for me on a few occasions. One thing is for sure. When I think about a cemetery, or when I’m reading of a fictional graveyard, it is always this beautiful place that ends up being the setting in my mind.
All winter long I’ve been anxiously awaiting the perfect day to return to Bellefontaine Cemetery under snow cover. I’d been once before, though things were much greener then, and I didn’t have my new camera, or the photography skills that I’ve gained this year.
Opening in 1849, Bellefontaine (pronounced “bell fountain” by most St. Louisans) was designed by Almerin Hotchkiss (Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York) and consists of 314 acres of park-like beauty with mausoleums as far as the eye can see. It truly is a small city. Among other big names from the region, you’ll find the resting places of Adolphus Busch (beer giant), William Clark, Sara Teasdale, and the infamous Lemp family.
Since it was 28 degrees and I knew once I made it there I’d be on foot for a few hours, I bundled in layers and prepared as if I was on a journey to climb Mount Everest. The always-kind and wonderful workers in the office mentioned that the roads were drivable, but they didn’t seem too confident in that statement, so I decided to walk. They encouraged me to take a map and keep the office number on hand. I guess that’s what they do when they see out-of-shape fat guys drop by for photos in the winter. I figured I’d stay close to the main entrance and photograph what I could until it got cold or I felt I was going too far into the cemetery. I didn’t know until later that I’d walked a pretty massive circle that covered most of the popular and historical monuments on the driving tour.
As I bravely started out, I couldn’t help but notice that my car was the only guest car in the lot. It appeared I was going to be very alone on this journey. Awesome! It was also very quiet, other than the crows flying around, keeping their distance, and warning others of my presence. It was creepy and cool at the same time.
With every hill I kept finding beautiful excuses to keep going further. I was impressed that I found a few sites by memory, such as the famous “Girl in the Glass Box”. Even as I detoured off the road and trudged through snow as I found interesting shots, I felt confident I knew where I was and what direction I’d need to head once I decided to go back. I never pulled out the map, or my iPhone, for that matter.
I’m not entirely sure I can describe to you how pleasant and enjoyable this was for me. I mean, I obviously enjoy spending time in cemeteries a little more than the average person, but to be alone (truly alone, I never saw another guest) in the middle of such a beautifully massive city of buried souls, in the middle of winter, enjoying the peace and quiet, with the added risk of getting lost or frozen before dark, was truly an amazing experience. I suppose this risk of being found frozen Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style could be why one of the workers came by in a cemetery truck as I was on the opposite end of the cemetery an hour and a half later… just checking. I waved and smiled and continued on.
I have to be honest, two hours later, as it got a bit darker, there was a moment when I wasn’t sure exactly where I was or if I was going in the right direction. I wasn’t lost for long, but I made the conscious decision to stop photographing so that I could focus on looking for the main entrance. It’s at this point that I nervously picked up the pace and started to feel the burn in my hips and joints. I couldn’t wait to find the car. A few minutes later I found it off in the distance, but I couldn’t believe how far away I was on the complete opposite side of where I’d been. I truly had made a pretty big circle. When I got to my car, the same cemetery worker was standing guard at the gate, probably relieved that he wouldn’t have to go searching for me again in the dark. I’d made it back forty-five minutes before the gates close and had been walking just over two hours.
I sat for a while and relaxed in my car as if I’d truly conquered my own Everest. I had hundreds of photos that I was so very excited about! I couldn’t wait to get home and check them out. I took a deep breath, texted Joe to let him know I was alive, and then I drove the hour-long trip home with a wind-burned face.
I wanted to be inspired to blog about something exciting tonight, but it turns out my brain (and my body) is tired from long work days this week. How about some more photography from two new cemeteries? While at the second cemetery, I captured a killer sunset that just took my breath away. I’m not entirely sure I did a great job of capturing it, but it was fun trying.
Fifteen minutes later I caught this one with my iPhone in the grocery store parking lot.
Back to the cemeteries… Bellerive Gardens in Creve Coeur, Missouri and Thomas Howell Cemetery in St. Charles, Missouri.
While I’m at it, I’d love some constructive criticism from any experienced photographers. I had a chance to talk photography with a colleague at school today. He’s a “retired” administrator and former music teacher who has been doing some long-term subbing in our building. He does photography on the side, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him some of those silly questions that a new photographer might ask when they’re learning lingo and the how-to. You know, like when do I need to switch lenses? What’s ISO? Things like that. I’ve found that he is GREAT at explaining things to me and making me not feel stupid. Ha! (He’s really great at explaining new sound systems too, by the way.)
A lot of times when I’m shooting in a cemetery, I have the urge to lay on the ground for several shots. If you don’t know me, physically, crawling across the ground, under trees and bushes, and straining to get back up again is not the greatest activity for my back and will almost always result in breaking out the good pain pills. It’s also funny when you stop by the grocery store on the way home and realize you have twigs and leaves clinging to you everywhere. It’s totally worth it, though.
Anyway, I’ve suspected this, but I’ve learned that I think I tweak things like the saturation and contrast a little too much in Photoshop Elements. I need to find a balance. You learn as you go, I guess. Here’s the link to most of my favorite recent photos from the new camera.
Question: Do I need a Flickr account, or something similar? Why? Why not? What’s the point of it?
Something Unsettling (KarlPfeiffer.com)
I’m having one of those unmotivated, yet excited, but distracted “look there goes a chicken” weeks. I decided that this evening I wouldn’t fight it. So… here’s a plethora of bloglish for you!
Why are you bugging us about this non-paranormal book, you ask? Let me explain. It must have been about eight years ago when an ex of mine had inspired me to start reading the Tales of the City series. Reading was something I absolutely never did unless I was getting a grade for it, and I could count every book I’d read for pleasure my whole life on one hand and still have a few fingers left. I agreed to borrow the first book just to humor him. I absolutely fell in love with it, which led to me finishing the first six books from the series. I was shocked to find that I was quickly becoming obsessed with reading. For that first year I read a book a week, on average, though mostly fiction titles. Then the seventh “Tales” book, Michael Tolliver Lives, was written a year later, followed by Mary Ann in Autumn a year or two after that, and now the ninth and final volume (according to Mr. Maupin himself) is sitting right next to me!
Obviously, I read almost all paranerdal non-fiction now, and I’ve slowed down quite a bit (due to family, investigations, sitting in this chair and blogging), but it is all due to my ex and the brilliant Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin. My current “to be read” shelf has been put on hold for the time being. Reading about and catching up with Anna Madrigal will be a special moment.
For the first half of my visits for my grave adoptions this last fall, I took an audio recorder along, which is pretty typical for me. This week I finally made my way through those recordings. It seems as though no historic cemetery (at least the ones I find) managed to escape the noisiness of our new modern highways and interstates. It is sometimes hard to imagine many of them being secluded in the quiet country as they were intended. More and more I’ve realized that our society has been shoving cemeteries aside, like we’re ashamed of them or don’t know what to do with them. How do I know? People still comment in disgust or confusion as to why I spend so much time visiting or taking photos from the cemetery. Lately my answer has been… Why not?! Basically, not too many people care to even notice that they’re driving right by these cemeteries, as beautiful headstones cling to life on the edge of a retaining wall meant to separate the living from the dead.
Sorry. One of those “look there goes a chicken” moments. Back to my recordings. In much of the audio, you can’t even hear my voice over the traffic. I even captured a big rig blowing a tire while I was visiting Johnnie. I’m not sure if he jumped, but the birds in the trees next to us didn’t like it. Truthfully, I’m sure I jumped at least a few feet in the air. From all of the photos I’ve been taking, you’d never know these beautiful and historic plots of land were so noisy.
So because of all the noise, I decided that for the remainder of the visits I’d focus on what really mattered and leave the recorder in the car. It’s a wonder I was able to catch two possible EVP artifacts from my visits with Johnnie. Honestly, I probably would have written the first two-syllable muffled voice off if it hadn’t been captured again two weeks later at the same instant (as I was turning and leaving). They both sound very similar. Now the fact that they’re similar and happen at the same time on two different visits is impressive, but could also mean there’s likely to be some explanation. I haven’t decided if I’ll share them or not. I’ve learned my lesson on getting excited about an EVP and sharing it right away. Plus, I’ve been away from EVP for a while and may be out of practice. More to come. Maybe.
This past July, I shared news that Christina Ricci had just finished filming a Lifetime movie about the infamous (and alleged) ax murderess, Lizzie Borden! It finally airs this Saturday! Watch this preview!
I don’t even know what to say about this one. 300 is a big deal, right?! It is so unbelievable to me! What does one write about for his 300th post?!
Thanks for reading! Peace!
This afternoon I made another visit to Gumbo Cemetery in Chesterfield, Missouri. I hadn’t been there yet with the new camera, and I was excited to get more practice in! This cemetery is the resting place of Clara, from my Grave Adoption series. All photos taken with the Canon Rebel T3i and a prime 50mm f/1.4 lens.
A New Lens and a New Cemetery (Big Séance)
Oak Grove Cemetery, St. Charles, Missouri (Big Séance)