This past October I had the opportunity to visit Highgate Cemetery, a wonderful experience for someone like myself who loves wandering around old cemeteries. It opened in 1839 and was run by a private company. In the 1970s it was no longer profitable to run commercially and nature took over…
But you can read all about it on the website. I don’t want to risk plagiarizing them and besides, they need your support 🙂
I’m here (and hopefully so are you) to share my experiences that day.
In Victorian times death was celebrated in high society and families would spend fortunes on elaborate tombs and mausoleums that their families would picnic at. Quite a few of them are in Highgate.
But I was more blown away by the overgrowth. The cemetery was only shut for a short while but nature always amazes me with how quickly it takes over when humans leave things alone.
None of the picture I took that day really do the place justice. I tried but my memories of the place are far more vivid than any image editing program could ever replicate. I am however pleased with the shots I chose to share.
Do yourself a favour and the next time you are in London, spend a few hours wandering around. The West Cemetery is viewable only by guided tour and is well worth it. On the East side, you can see the final resting place of these famous people among others.
It’s a Swindle
So long and thanks for all the fish
All photos taken with my Olympus OMD EM10 and tweaked in Lightroom.
If you’ve been here before, you’ll know that I shoot mostly film and usually take lots of pictures of trees and various inanimate objects.
That’s not a bad thing, it’s just kind of what I’ve fallen into, partially by choice and partially by circumstance. I take a walk every morning and always bring a camera with me. I’m a little shy so I don’t shoot people very often and although I’ve been to lots of gigs and festivals over the years, I generally don’t rush up to the front and take a tonne of photos. I have but not very often. Those tend to end up like this:
Not bad but I wouldn’t call myself a concert photographer with those. They are snapshots and memories.
Lately, I’ve been a bit bored with the same old routine and have been itching to try something different. As a photographer or as any kind of artist, they say it’s good to get out of your comfort zone once in a while and challenge yourself. And ‘they’ are never wrong.
Just before New Years, I was perving on the book of face and saw a post about a band looking for a photographer to shoot their NY eve gig. I talked myself out of responding as I’d never done anything like that before. The idea stayed in the back of my head for a couple of days and eventually won over my common sense or fear of trying new things (I’m not sure which).
I approached the band and asked them if they’d found anyone yet and to my horror, they had not. Somehow I managed to offer my services to do the shoot which they for some reason chose to accept.
Before the fear could really settle in, I decided I’d better figure out how to do such a thing. I know the camera inside and out. I’m quite robotic when it comes to changing aperture, ISO and shutter speed on the fly. That wasn’t an issue. Shyness and the fact that I hadn’t picked up my DSLR in over a year were.
I went back to the band and asked a few questions about the lighting situation and the stage set up (thanks again Google for making me seem smart). Everything was a go.
The big night arrived. It’s always a treat to go up to the doors of a venue and say “I’m on the guest list”. I met the band and inhaled a pint of Guinness to settle my nerves. Had a good chat with the sound/light guy, set my gear up and started to panic.
What had I gotten myself into? The sheer hubris of assuming I could shoot a gig with no real experience. I was officially a fraud. I inhaled another pint of Guinness and started to relax. Looking around the packed venue, I recognized a few people I knew. So I went and chatted with them. That helped to take my mind off things. Then the band started. Whoops.
I ran up to the stage, grabbed my camera and started shooting. I was immediately in my element. Hiding behind the lens 🙂
I took a couple of shots and as google had recommended, I loaded them onto my computer and had a quick look. The first shots turned out pretty good. Pressure off.
Then I went out in front of the band and that’s when I realized that this wasn’t going to be so easy. There was no front lighting. Everything was from the back and sides. It played havoc with the focusing. I tried to switch to manual but it was too dark. Couldn’t shoot at a fast enough shutter speed. I couldn’t get a shot of the singer. My heart jumped to my throat. I couldn’t use a flash as it would overpower the stage lights and wash out the shots ruining the mood. Fuck.
Nothing to do but persevere. I got a tonne of shots of the guitar and bass and a few OK ones of the drummer but not the singer.
It’s enough to drive you to drink. That’s exactly what I did.
During the bands first break, I told them about the lighting situation and we decided I would have to use the flash a bit. It was exactly as I’d feared. Washed out shots. I converted them to B&W because that’s what Google said I should do.
So I got drunker and took more photos.
The more intoxicated I got, the sloppier I got but that’s to be expected 🙂 I did manage to get a couple of ok shots of the singer.
Over all, I would call it a successful night. The band was really pleased with the finished photos. I got paid and might get a chance to shoot them again. Would I do it again for another band? In a second. I can only get better at it.
Oh, if you see these guys, could you tell them their photo is ready 😉