A visit to Yaldhurst Cemetery

Two weeks ago I started a year-long photographic course (Beginners Digital SLR) at Hagley Community College.  The course is part of what the college calls its After 3 programme, meaning that the classes are all held after 3pm, mostly in the evenings, and are aimed at adult and senior students who have other commitments during the day.

I’ve been taking photographs for many years now, and used an Olympus OM2 (with a couple of extra lenses) for many years before moving on to a compact digital, followed a few years ago by a Fuji HS10 and then a Fuji HS30.  These last two cameras are not SLR, but are sort of half-way there and were what I could afford at the time, and I’ve been reasonably pleased with the results I’ve achieved with them.  However, I feel I’ve never really come to grips with the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, and how these can alter your photos; my attempts so far have been much more hit and miss than I would like.  So, with my bridge playing having come to a halt at the end of last year, I was excited when I came across the After 3 photographic course, and after making enquiries as to whether my camera would be suitable despite not being a true SLR, I signed up.

Our first assignment is called Now and Then, and asks us to choose a subject and take a series of photographs using the knowledge we have now, and then revisit the subject in 6-7 weeks’ time to shoot it again, putting into practice what we have learned over that short period.  A number of the class are keen to move off the auto setting on their camera, and explore some of the bells and whistles offered by digital SLR technology.  I’ve been using manual mode on my camera for a couple of years now, so I’m comfortable with being off the auto mode already, but want to gain a better and deeper understanding of how different settings will affect my shots.  For those of you who did your schooling in the 50s and 60s and are of a similar vintage to me, you will probably recall learning multiplication tables by repetition, again and again, until they became so etched in your mind that you instantly knew the answer to 9 x 9, or 11 x 11:  what I’d like to achieve is a similar sort of familiarity with the ‘tables’ of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and what sorts of different  ‘answers’ various combinations of these three things will produce.

Anyway, for my subject I chose to visit Yaldhurst Cemetery, a small rural cemetery which I pass close by on my way to and from work each day.  I’ve been there before, not for any particular reason, but I find cemeteries fascinating places, and am always happy to spend an hour or two wandering through them reading the headstones and postulating in my mind as to the stories behind some of the inhabitants.  What struck me particularly about the cemetery on this visit was the number of gravesites which included animal figures in the grave decorations, and I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.  (I trust this doesn’t seem too ghoulish – I mean no disrespect to anyone, and many of them brought a smile to my face, so I hope no-one finds it offensive.  I’ve snuck a couple of non-animal ones in as well.)

The wee aeroplane with its propellor whirring merrily in the breeze was actually sitting on a pile of woodchips just over the cemetery fence in the property next door, so I guess it isn’t strictly part of the assignment, but it made me smile 🙂  And you can see what a beautiful late summer evening it was by the blue sky and sunshine!



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