I have been asked what I do when I go out to photograph tombstones at the various cemeteries in my county. The answer is simple...cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Seriously, I am a no frills person, but I do have good cameras. Most of my photography is with a good digital camera, enough picture card memory to take about 150 photos and plenty of charged batteries and extra throw away batteries. I also carry a "pen" that is a combination of brush and lens cleaner.
My 35mm camera goes with me, along with my automatic winder, flash, zoom lens and macro lens. Occasionally, I will use the 35mm with the macro lens and get down on the ground to photograph a small metal plate or brass marker.
I am very fortunate to have a husband who enjoys going with me. He carries a little wisk broom to brush away leaves or loose dirt. He also carries a tablet of paper and a pen and transcribes the tombstones or markers that I am unsure of as far as if they will be readable on the screen. Some tombstones are so worn that I will use the "Braille" method and let my fingers read each letter. That is after I have walked around the tombstone trying to find a spot where the light hits it best so I can read it. I also use a mirror to pick up light.
The time of day is extremely important to me for lighting. I prefer to have some shadows, so afternoon or morning is best. I do not like to use a flash, for I cannot get the dept and detail I can with natural sunlight. I also like to leave the area surrounding the tombstones as I find it. Meaning, I do not like to rake up the area, just clean off the markers/tombstones enough to be able to read them. By doing this, people can get more of a feel of what the area around their ancestors plot is like. An overview also helps.
At home, I download the pictures on to my computer if I am using a digital. If I have used the 35mm, I scan them when they are developed. I resize each photograph, clean or brighten it up if needed. When it goes on to a web page, I transcribe it, just in case someone can not read the photograph.
Most of all, this is a labor of love and a desire to help someone out there find a long lost ancestor. My reward is when a researcher does find a long lost ancestor and writes to me about the find.
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