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Old Sep 6, 2010, 7:51 PM   #1
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Default Hillside Cemetery in Middletown, NY

My wife and I went to take pictures at Hillside Cemetery in Middletown, NY. The cemetery was established in 1861 (the same year the American Civil War began when Lincoln was president) and in 1994 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its designer, Calvert Vaux, was collaborator in the design of New York City’s Central Park.

Up until the 1700s, cemeteries were placed inside churchyards. But as urban population grew and graves were stacked, reopened, and reused for new burials, a new type of cemetery called the “rural cemetery” emerged.

A rural cemetery is more like a park placed on the outskirts of town. Paths curve around tombstones and mausoleums as well as gardens and trees. The views are expansive as the land is carefully chosen for such a setting. Before public parks became common, rural cemeteries were the place for the general public to “enjoy refined outdoor recreation amidst art and sculpture previously available only for the wealthy.”

Hillside in Middletown is one such cemetery.

(source: wikipedia.org)

#1) Sculpture make you forget you’re in a cemetery.


#2) Obelisks are common at the cemetery. They were perhaps inspired by the Washington Memorial which in turn drew inspiration from Egypt when America was fascinated by everything Middle Eastern. (I would appreciate confirmation or falsification of this theory of mine.)


#3) A dead tree among the dead, one might say.


#4) The patchy sky made the day ideal for photography, not to mention the landscape we were shooting.


#5) Paths curve around trees.


All photos processed using DPHDR and Topaz. Photos #1 and #5 are from single raw files taken by my wife’s new Kodak Z980.

C&C welcome. Thank you for looking.
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Old Sep 6, 2010, 9:06 PM   #2
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Altho I think the pp is a little much, I really like your composition. I've been wondering about doing this for a while. Can you give me some tips? Obviously you want to be respectful in a cemetary. What do you do when somebody comes close? Do you do close-ups of some stones? Any not-to-dos? thanks...
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 1:45 AM   #3
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Its funny, while in death as in life people have a position that is maintained. From the poor in the unmarked grave to the rich and their large monuments. I rather like your sombre treatment Billy. Nice job.
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 5:43 AM   #4
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Nicely done..Good composition..The Cemetery was good subject material... I think that all these pictures belong in the Digital Art or HDR section though.....
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 8:16 AM   #5
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Thanks, Frank. I guess it didn’t occur to us to be concerned of our actions partly because before we went there, I did some research online and the impression (or subliminal message) I got was that it was now more of an attraction for the area. Even the entrance to the cemetery listed the names of post-civil war notable people buried there as if in invitation to see if you can find them. Almost all the headstones we saw were inscribed with births in the late 1800s and deaths in the early 1900s. We did find two among the thousands of graves that were recent (they stood out because they had fresh flowers), both in the 2000s.

And partly because our religious beliefs taught us to respect those who have passed on.

We were pretty much alone the entire time. My wife said the quiet was deafening and I agree. She was amazed that such place of extreme serenity could exist in Middletown where cops nowadays routinely do drug busts. I half-expected to find syringes but found no litter at all. Deer pranced and grazed everywhere probably because they felt safe at the cemetery.

There was a lone family there but more likely they were there spending the afternoon just like us. They parked their car under a tree in a clearing and pushed their baby on a stroller.

So I guess I don’t have much in the way of tips as to how to behave while shooting in a cemetery other than what you already said -- respect. I showed my wife a headstone of a husband and wife where the husband survived alone for 18 years after his wife died. When my wife said, “Maybe he re-married,” I said, “Would he then be buried in the same grave?” My wife then showed me a pair of headstones where the wife followed the husband after just one year. We made no further remarks after that. Implicit in our silence I guess is the realization that we, too, will end up the same way -- one going ahead of the other. When thoughts like this occur, it becomes hard not to be respectful when inside a cemetery.

Thanks, Paul. “Sombre” was also what I was thinking of while doing pp.

Yes, there were mausoleums of varying sizes, too. We are not wealthy so I probably will not understand the need. Vi asked me if I thought relatives still visited there. I said probably not. My parents’ parents’ parents are my antecedents but I never met them so to me they’re different people as different can be. I probably won’t be visiting there every year to lay flowers. Instead I ask myself, would I shudder at the thought of being buried in an unmarked grave? I remember reading God did not tell where He buried Moses. I think therein lies a message. Maybe that’s the way things are meant to be.

Thanks, musket. Yes, I think you’re right -- HDR or digital art is more appropriate. I was thinking “architecture” and “travel”, too, because “landscape” somehow didn’t feel right.

#6) I did not know what to make of this. I thought maybe they were a supply of headstones ready for use. But on closer inspection I saw them inscribed with names and dates.


#7) The weather was mild. Summer is gone and soon it will be fall.
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 9:56 AM   #6
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good set vv

i like the lines and mood imparted in shot #2 for my pic of this bunch.
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Old Sep 7, 2010, 1:21 PM   #7
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Mass burial for the many head stone shot as if they just dug one big hole and placed them all in one spot... maybe from the small pox illness or something of the likes... Great shots and as always I see faces in the clouds so heavy they were in these shots.... I have no clues as why I do this but I do ....
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Old Sep 8, 2010, 7:54 AM   #8
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Thanks, Hards80. I think removing fringes using Paul/Bynx's technique helped improve the image a lot.

Thanks, SharpShotGirl. Mass burial makes sense. I wish I had checked if they all had the same dates.

#8) Statue.


#9) Mausoleum -- one of many.


#10) Deer at the cemetery.
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