Re: Travel to Warsaw/Radomsko -- How to photograph tombstones? #general

Thomas F. Weiss

Dan Kazez wrote:

I will travel to Poland soon to photograph all of the
tombstones in the Radomsko cemetery--about 3000
tombstones in all. I did a smaller project in 2002
(one thousand tombstones in Zarki, Plawno/Gidle, Mstow,
and Janow) with good results.

This larger project has larger concerns: How to map the
cemetery? How to mark stones after I photograph them?
How to combat the frequent exhausted-camera-battery problem?
Other good techniques?
Dan --

I photographed 1500 gravestones in Buchach in 2001.
You have identified important problems. I have a few tips.
I mapped the cemetery with a GPS device. I took GPS
readings first at every gravestone, but that became tedious
so I switched to the beginning and end of rows when
they could be identified. I brought along a bag
of wooden golf tees that I painted bright orange and
used to mark gravestones that had been photographed.
That worked well. They were also popular with the local kids.
The battery problem was solved by purchasing a number
of the highest capacity rechargeable batteries
available at the time -- 1600mAh nickel metal hydride.
Check to see if higher capacity are available now.
I recharged batteries every night. I used two rechargers
simultaneously each of which could recharge 4 batteries.
Another tip is to use the viewfinder and to avoid using
the LCD display on your digital camera (I am assuming
that you are using a digital camera). The LCD display
is the battery hog on most digital cameras.
Finally, I invested in a reflector device that could
be used to reflect sun light or to block it. I did
not need it frequently but it was helpful when either
the sun was bright and behind the front of the
gravestone as well as when the sun was directly on
the gravestone. I also brought along both a digital
camera and a digital camcorder which could also take
digital still photos. That made it possible for
two people to take gravestone photos simultaneously.
Finally, I took along two sons to help me do the job
and some gardening equipment to clear grass and
moss >from around the bottoms of gravestones and
plastic brushes to clean the gravestones without
damaging them. We purchased work gloves in local
markets which helped a lot. We hired local kids to
help us clear the cemetery and the gravestones.

Good luck,
Tom Weiss
Newton, MA

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