Thursday, June 21, 2007

Photographing Headstones

This is a good project for you, a church, scouts, community or any group.

Things you may need:
  • Camera, digital is best.
  • Tripod for a sharper picture.
  • Large sheets of paper and charcoal for weathered headstones.
  • A brush & water for cleaning.
  • Something to clear grass or weeds away from the face of the stones.
  • A graphics editing program.

First visit the cemetery and find out which direction the stones are oriented. It is best to shoot the stone just as sunlight barely crosses the face and the inscription is still shaded. Might even be a good time to clean and clear anything that may of grown over the stone. There has been too many time I could of kicked myself for not sweeping off the stone or I have a weed going across the picture.

When the light is best have your camera on a tripod and use a timer or remote for best results. There is less of a chance of you shaking the camera when you take the shot. Most newer stones you won’t have to worry about light, but nothing is worse than getting home and you have an unusable picture. Zoom into the picture to make sure you have a good clear shot, and then move onto the next stone. After good light has past move to the stones that light isn’t an issue or the weathered stones. For the weathered stones use the paper & charcoal to make a rubbing of the inscription & photograph the headstone and rubbing. is a good site for showing how to crop the picture to put it online, but first I like to make a good quality file for 4x6 digital prints. Picasa is my favorite and it’s free and doesn’t effect your original. For prints I like original size with a quality 70, online 600 pixel width a quality of 40-50 or what ever the website requires.

Where to put the images would be the county website on,, and if a state is available They all have limits on size of file or pixel size of the picture. This is why I recommend making a good quality 4x6 file, there are a lot of websites that have free space for your digital pictures. Make a public web album and people can download or order prints for themselves.

It is a wonderful feeling when someone thanks you for making a picture available.

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