Festival Of Light; All Saints Day Part II

Well I have just got back from visiting cemeteries and thankfully the rain held off until we were in the car traveling back. We did visit a cemetery at night as is our tradition partly because; it looks great and secondly i want to take a few pictures. Each year we tend to go to a different cemetery and this year we visited one near  our old apartment . There was limited parking and the police were controlling the traffic. In the cemetery there were lots of candles but few people (I think the rain put them off).

One of the big problems with taking pictures at night in a cemetery is light or the lack of it. This picture i shot at 200 ISO, 1 second at f2.8. I used a bench to steady the camera and shot away. The light from the candles contrast well with the darkness of the cemetery and gives subtle details of the graves. The light in the sky is a mixture of light pollution from the city and the glow from the candles.

At the central cross in the cemetery people were standing quite still praying or warming their feet. The night is quite chilly around 6 degrees celsius and the candles gave off a surprising good amount of heat. Since people weren’t moving i could shoot at 80 ISO with another exposure of 1 second at f.8. The main reason this exposure could have a larger aperture and lower ISO is because I was closer to the candles and they gave off much more light.

THis picture is a HDR via stacking. The images were shot at 1600 ISO. If i had put them through a HDR plugin then the noise of the image would be really intense. Instead i loaded the three exposures in camera raw and reduced the noise, then in Photoshop loaded the three exposures into layers using the stacking option that also aligns the images as they are loaded. I ordered the images base, under and overexposure and the using a hide all layer mask on the top two layers painted in the shadow and highlight details. It takes a bit more time than using a plugin but I can also use high ISO images with this workflow.

The image itself is one of my more common images from All Saints Day, candles on graves. I have been informed that the candle in the middle were very popular 15 years ago then people started buying lanterns. Though today i saw quite a few of these open candles so maybe they are coming back into fashion.

Thats All Saints Day over and done with for another year now the planning for the big family Christmas has begun.

Let me know in the comment section below what you think or if you have any questions.

3 thoughts on “Festival Of Light; All Saints Day Part II

  1. Great shots Ben, this strikes me as a very photogenic tradition. Do many people take photos? I think cemeteries provide a wealth of material for photographers, but my wife (for one) thinks that it is slightly weird taking pictures there (I disagree).

    The HDR stacking in the final shot looks very natural (which is great) – it would be interesting to see the three images you used here.

    • Hi Stuart,
      I think it is quite a photogenic tradition and a lot of people do go in the evenings to look at the lights and the graves. In the four years i have been living here i haven’t seen anyone else taking pictures. I think when you’re taking pictures you have to do it in a sensitive way and most people would probably be put off because of the non use of flash and longer exposures. That being said others must be doing it as well.

      I can understand your wife’s point of view and some people do look at you as if you are being wierd. My wife could see that i wanted to get low to the ground at one point to capture the mass of candles around the central cross in the cemetery and she asked me not too. I think this is mainly because people were praying here and also she can get embarrassed by me lying on the floor taking pictures. On the other side the light in the cemetery and around the graves is fantastic with lots of creative possibilities.

      Normally on friday I write a Re-edit series but after reading your comment I am going to show my work flow for this image. Keep your eyes peeled.

      Thanks for commenting.

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