Woodman Headstone

Woodman Headstone
Originally uploaded by mjm1138.

Spending the holidays with our families in central Iowa, my wife and I stopped in Woodland Cemetary in Des Moines for a bit of shooting on Christmas Day. Two days later there was a thick fog over the whole city, so we returned for a few more shots. Follow the link and I think you’ll be able to see the whole set. The conditions were lovely, and this cemetary is incredibly rich in local history and contains some unique and beautiful monuments. Notably, there were several like the one pictured here, forming a tree stump (sometimes with smaller stones resembling logs on the ground surrounding.

This was shot with our little Sony P/S digital, which did a fine job. Turns out the optical viewfinder is wildly inaccurate, so if you want to use the full frame, you have to compose on the LCD monitor.

It is with some trepidation and (admittedly) a great deal of excitement that I’ve decided to shelve my stodgy old complaints against digital and purchase a digital SLR. I’ve ordered a Nikon D70S with a Nikon 28-70mm zoom. We have a trip to Italy coming up in April and I decided I’d ultimately be much more productive with a digital outfit. With the included memory card I’ll be able to shoot 800 frames or more before filling it up, and download everything to an ipod at the end of the day. That’s a lot of images, many orders of magnitude over what I could hope to shoot with any kind of film technology. It’s also an acknowledgement that my film workflow is hopelessly cumbersome, slow and low quality, and the key to improving my technique right now is to shoot frames, and not back myself into corners with doctrinaire attitudes concerning medium. It’s a fair investment to get into a digital SLR outfit, but I expect it to quickly recouped in savings on film, chemicals, processing and printing. We’ll see.


4 responses to “Woodman Headstone

  1. Wow. The cemetary shots are terrific. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like those tree-stump monuments — completely unique. I’d love to know if this was the work of a local artisan back in the day, or a “fad,” or what. We drove back to Mpls in the fog. Didn’t clear up until the suburbs of the Twin Cities. It was really beautiful, but Jim couldn’t tell, because what with the giant eye patch and cornea scratch and all. Good times.

  2. Don’t you want to go to Keokuk just to spend a few hours wandering through the old cemetary? Seriously, I would love to go there just to sight see and take photos. I remember Great Grandma having a boatload of stories about the various monuments in the Keokuk cemetary — which I also recall as being huge, and a designated national historical site, or something like that.

  3. I do, I was thinking that as we were shooting these pictures. This cemetary is very similar albeit smaller, with narrow cobblestone roads that wind up and down through the markers.

    That’s interesting stuff about the Woodmen; given their midwestern origins I guess it’s no surprise that there were so many markers in Woodland. I think we must have seen maybe 10 of them.–>

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