Thursday, October 08, 2009

Close-up of Mirror and Shade

Recently, at the Rhode Island Genealogical Society meeting held in Rumford, Rhode Island, Lettie Champion, showed us some new gravestone photography techniques in the Newman Cemetery. [26 Sept 2009]

She uses an umbrella with a stake attached to the bottom to purposefully create shade. Sharp and pointy, this allows the umbrella to be placed in the dirt near the gravestone so that the person who is holding the mirror doesn't have to hold it in place. [I didn't get a good photograph of the umbrella in the ground which to passer-by folks must have looked bizarre!]

The umbrella creates artificial shade so that the sunlight can be directed on the face of the stone. Many times, I have noticed that using the mirror tends to bleach out the stone because the sunlight is too strong. [example of marble stone and too much light with the mirror taken by me in Elm Grove Cemetery in Mystic, CT]

Lettie sometimes uses two mirrors so that the sun reflects off one mirror to the other and allows for the concentration on the sunlight on the stone. This is shown here with the mirror on the left taking the sunlight from the mirror on the right (not in the photo) with the stone itself in the shade.

Lettie made a very clever mirror stand so that at least one mirror did not have to be held. Of course, all of this works well when there is more than one person working on the project.

We had a great time wandering around the cemetery angling the mirrors in different ways. I took several "with" and "without" the mirror. [CARPENTER, MEHITABLE 1777c - 25 JUL 1864 from the RI Historical Cemetery Database at NEHGS and her maiden name may be PHINNEY from Findagrave]

Now, I need an umbrella and a stake! Sounds perfect for October!

Lettie Champion gave her permission to be photographed and be featured in my blog and I gave permission for RIGS to use my photos in the October issue of the RIGS Reporter Newsletter which is available in PDF format.

Here's a link to some excellent photographs taken at Sanborn Cemetery in Bristol, NH using the mirror, courtesy of Lee Drew.


FamHist said...

This technique has 'saved' many inscriptions that will soon be lost to time. Mylar mirrors also work well and won't break. Sue Armstrong has used mirrors to bring out the inscriptions on hundreds of tombstones in New Hampshire. See some of her photos are at . Would love to see an article on constructing mylar mirrors, suppliers, exact supplies, etc. Thanks for this post Midge.

Becky Jamison said...

Thanks for this interesting post! I'm just learning.