Saturday, June 15, 2013

Meditations in a Graveyard...

   In an earlier post I wrote about the power of attraction.  Without getting into the quantum physics thing I will only say that it happens and we need to pay attention to it.  If you look back through your photographic files you will, no doubt, notice a recurring theme.  Certain subjects or locations have a strong attraction for us.  For me, one of my attractions is old graveyards. (You can read about another of my "lodestones" here.)

   It is not a sense of morbidity that draws me to these places.  I simply love to read the inscriptions and wonder about the people.  What kind of life did they have?  How many mourned their passing?  Sometimes the sculptures and carvings are stunning, like in the Pere LaChaise Cemetery in Paris, and make lovely subjects to photograph.

   In this cemetery, in Chatham on Cape Cod, the thing that drew me and my camera's lens was the lichen on the old stones.  It was the most shocking shades of chartreuse and orange!  It coated the monuments in a velvety flocking making them look even more ancient.  This is a particular phenomenon of seaside cemeteries I believe.  You would never find these colors in an inland graveyard.

   We sometimes think of the colors of nature as being more subtle and even muted but it is instances like this that remind me of the wild abandon natures palette can reach.  I wouldn't have thought that color was part of my attraction to these ancient places but now I can see that each time I visit one, it is a whole new experience that I doubt I will ever tire of.

   A little, non-photographic, footnote.  I have always used the terms "cemetery" and "graveyard" interchangeably.  I've since learned that there actually is a difference...who knew! Cemeteries are most often owned by a town and a graveyard is most often associated with, and located next to, a church. These are also sometimes called church yards.  They were usually  laid out at the same time the building was constructed as a last resting place for parishioners.  If you  want to look into this more, and maybe find a little inspiration for a contemplative stroll, visit this link.  (And you thought this blog was just about photography!  You can never tell what juicy bit of information you will pick up!)


kimmanleyort said...

I am also drawn to cemeteries, Patricia, for many of the same reasons. There is a wonderful old cemetery here in my new town. It must be a graveyard because it is part of a church, however, this place has people of all faiths or no faith. I posted a picture on Flickr recently and I think some people are uncomfortable with pictures of gravestones. I'm wondering if you have found the same thing.

Patricia Turner said...

I haven't as yet Kim but I tend to focus on details of carvings or sculpture and don't photograph peoples inscriptions. I have a board on Pinterest, Saints, Angels and Faces in Stone, that has many of my images as well as others. I find them very poetic and touching.