There really is a trick to taking the best photos in a cemetery. Here are some great tips from our best photographers:
#1 Plan for the best lighting. This is the most important step in order to capture the fine details of the headstone.
a. Front light is best and is recommended for stones facing east. The best light in the morning. For west facing gravestones, choose a time in the middle of the day. For north facing tones, later afternoon light is the best time. The most difficult shot is one in which the stone is backlit.
#2 Enhancing the Inscription. Some stones are hard to read even with proper light.
a. Using water is a good way to bring out bad inscriptions. Wetting down a tombstone with water can make carvings stand out much more than when they are dry.
b. Please do not use anything more than water when photographing without asking permission of cemetery staff or family members. We have an explicit "do no harm" policy. We do offer cleaning kits with D/2, but only encourage this, again, with the permission of cemetery staff.
We work exclusively with a company called "Save Your Stones", and sell their kits here.
#3 Get Close But Not Too Close. Take a close up shot to get the entire stone in the photo.
a. This is a fine process. Too close and you do not capture the entire stone. Too far away and it may be hard to transcribe.
b. The best way to capture a stone is to fill up the screen of your device with the headstone, making sure that you can see the inscription.
c. If it is a monument. Take one far away shot and link a close shot of the inscription.
#4 Avoid getting your shadow, reflection or feet in the photo. The headstone should be the focus.
a. When in doubt take a few extra photos. Poor images can be removed later.
Here is a stone captured too close. The photographer missed some of the stone in the photo:
Here is an example of a beautiful photo. The photo has the right exposure to the sun. The stone can be transcribed, and it has a little background in the cemetery captured at just the right angles.
Here is an example of a large monument: A photo was taken from far away, but linked to the stone on the inside of the monument. Although still harder to read, it is better than the shot with just the monument, as the stone on the inside is too hard to read from far away.
Try to avoid feet, reflection or shadows in the photos.
Nice sandals, but I'm sure you don't really want these in a photo of a headstone.
Legs can be seen in shadow. It makes the headstone hard to read.