Tombstones in black & white

Gotta admit, I’m really pleased with this shot. It took a lot of time for me to get the composition correct at the scene. For me, I tend to look at the placement of the subjects in the photo and how they balance the overall weight of the shot. I’m almost looking for some sort of buoyancy. I also want to capture a sense of depth. I saw this with the two main gravestones with the crosses. I kept walking around trying to decide how to get them in the frame just right. Not sure what you think but for my eye it worked out as I’d envisioned it. Anyway, hope you like it.

Okay, here’s the start of a story. Lets call it part one. It’s only a working title, too. I’ll try to finish it in two or maybe three parts. I honestly have no idea where I’m going with this. And keep in mind it’s written by a 19 year old who doesn’t have very good writing or grammar skills, so don’t judge. 😉 And don’t forget to click the “continue reading” link at the bottom of the post for the rest of part one.


Graveyard Shift

I think they liked me. That’s why they kept me on even though I was no good at digging. I had a bad knee that would complain when it was damp. When it got damp I could hardly put weight to the shovel to get it in the ground.

My boss said I was a good kid and they were going to keep me but not as a digger. He was a burley black man with a face filled with salt & pepper stubble and milky black eyes. One of his eyes was lazy, couldn’t quite keep up to the other. I was always afraid to look at him when he bossed me around. “You gonna work nights,” he told me. “Keep an eye on da place.” His voice had the singsong accent of faraway lands. “You no good to me with a shovel.”

“Yes sir,” I said, my eyes on my shoes. I could feel a blush of heat on my face.

“You know Moses?” he asked.

I shook my head; I knew the name but never met him. He worked the late shift.

“Come tomorrow night at 8:00 and he be at the utility shed cleaning tools. He show you da ropes. Your knee gonna be okay to walk the grounds?”

I nodded.

“Better be. This is all we got for you.”

The utility shed was little more than a dilapidated sheet metal shack behind a stand of bushes in the back 40. I usually met my boss there at the crack of dawn when the grass still shone with dew. Sometimes fog would sit in the valley before the sun rose and chased it off. It was about as peaceful as it gets. I’d never been to the graveyard at night. Though there was no lights, I knew my way. There was a gravel footpath off from the main drive that led right to it. Plus I could see light spilling out through the open shed door. Moses was waiting when I walked in.

He stopped and turned and looked me up and down. “You must be Peter,” he said.

“Yes sir.”

“No ‘sirs’ with me, boy,” he said with a grin and a wink. “You call me Moses and I’ll call you Pete.”

We walked the grounds. It was dark except for the orange light from Moses’ lantern. He’d wave it this way or that to show me something I was to keep an eye out for. “You’ll be walking this here route three times a night,” he told me. Sometimes teenagers from town came in at night to drink beer and rabble-rouse. Once a couple of tombstones got knocked over. It happened before I was hired on. I remember reading about it in the Sunday Gazette. It was my job to chase them kids away. We also checked the church doors at the entrance of the cemetery to make sure they was locked. Moses told me they always were.

The graveyard backed onto the woods at the edge of town so we’d get a lot of animals out roaming the grounds for a meal. Moses told me he’d seen plenty of foxes and even a dear once or twice. “Nothing much you can do about that,” he said. “Just try and keep outta their way is about all you can do.”

When we got back to the shed he put a pot of water onto an old pot belly stove in the corner. There was a big stuffed green velvet chair that looked like it come right out of the Mayor’s living room except for the dirt stains, a worn out rocking chair, and a long wooden plank bench. Moses sat on the rocker and I took the bench.

“You never been out here at night, have you?” he asked.

“No sir, um… Moses.”

He smiled, removed his ball cap and pushed back his bangs, then put the cap back on. He was a dishevelled sort of man, with gnarly white hair and a bulbous nose, maybe in his later 60s. The sun had carved deep lines and ridges into his face. Even though it was late autumn, his skin was still tanned. You could tell his was a hard life. He had a beard, which was unkempt much like the rest of him. I liked him right off.

“Listen,” he started, “if you’re gonna be out here every night keeping an eye out and all, you best know a few things. But if I tell ya, you gotta promise to keep it to yourself, hear?” I shook my head in agreement. The kettle started to boil and he turned to pour our tea. The sheet metal panels that made up the walls were supported by exposed wooden studs. Hanging from the studs was a large assortment of gardening and digging tools. I’d already gotten my hands blistered up good on a plenty of them over the past few weeks I’d been here. The shack was no more than 10 foot by 10 foot square.

He sat a cup on the bench beside me and blew on his own to cool it. Casually, he asked, “You get scared of the dark, Peter?”

“I don’t suppose not,” I said. He nodded and sipped his tea and thought about that a minute. I waited.

“You believe in ghosts and such?” he asked?

This entry was posted in Black & White Photography, Street Photography, Toronto, Urban Photography, Winter Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tombstones in black & white

  1. Chloe says:

    ooh very errie photograph, i really like the tonings of the black and white

  2. milkayphoto says:

    VERY successful…like pieces on a chess board.

    I really like the idea of writing with your photos…seriously consider adding some text to the book you are working on.

  3. Hi Dave, love the angle you used, very nice. -Kim

  4. Great composition. I love the mysterious and creepy (in a good way) feel to this photo. Nice job!

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