Brompton Cemetery

The photo walks I have been on in the past with my friend Catherine have produced some of my best work. From our first trip to Borough Market, through our series of London walks in 2015, and our return to Borough Market that same year, there is something about the walks we take together that produces images I’m always happy with.

Our trip to Brompton Cemetery in 2017, however, was our first trip in a while, and I was definitely rusty at the point (so you can only imagine what I’m like now, considering I’m also only just editing these), and certainly at the start I was making a lot of the mistakes I often make when I haven’t shot for a while – simple things like forgetting to adjust basic settings like aperture or ISO for the image I’m trying to capture. For that reason you’ll see some images in this post that, despite being wide landscapes, were shot at f/4, and other shots you won’t see at all because I shot them at the wrong setting and they ended up overexposed, so I binned them.

You’ll also have to forgive me when going through these shots, because these were all taken almost three years ago and I can’t remember a lot of the walk itself, so whenever I talk about what I was intending to do with an image it may be conjecture on my part.

We met at the north-west end of the cemetery, where we quickly found a tomb of some sort.

1/100sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

The entrances to the cemetery being at its ends means you are also quickly greeted with long, perspective-inducing pathways.

1/400sec, f/4, ISO 200, 24mm

There were plenty of gravestones for perspective photos as well.

1/800sec, f/4, ISO 200, 28mm

As you can see, I’ve played about with the colour a lot in these images. I’ve desaturated the greens a lot in order to produce a bleak, miserable look, which seemed appropriate for a graveyard. I’m pleased with the effect.

1/500sec, f/4, ISO 100, 28mm

For a few other shots mere selective desaturation wasn’t producing a spooky enough result, I used Analog Efex Pro to generate something more extreme.

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 200, 32mm
1/400sec, f/4, ISO 200, 24mm

Sometimes, I didn’t need to do much for to create ominous scenes, because the wildlife provided it for me.

1/800sec, f/4, ISO 100, 105mm

Another theme you will see across most of the images in this post is one of texture. Many, many of the images feature some sort of ageing or weathering, be it the rust on the door of the image above, or as you will see later on the lovely texture of aged gravestones. In fact, when editing these images, for most of them I tweaked the ‘clarity’ slider in Lightroom to bring out the textures of the surfaces.

1/640sec, f/4, ISO 100, 67mm

Other times I chose to boost the green a bit, making for brighter scenes.

1/400sec, f/4, ISO 100, 47mm

Being a patch of green in London, crows weren’t the only wildlife, there were of course squirrels, which I will always find cute.

1/500sec, f/4, ISO 100, 105mm

For the spots where fresh flowers had been left, I boosted the saturation a bit to bring them out.

1/250sec, f/2, ISO 100, 50mm

One of my favourite things to photograph were all the shapes and details in the gravestones and markers. There was quite a variety, from small creepy angels, do sculptures of books, to simple but beautiful wooden crosses.

1/800sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm
1/2,500sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm
1/2,000sec, f/2, ISO 100, 50mm

And, of course, sometimes the creepy brought itself.

1/8,000sec, f/2, ISO 100, 50mm
1/2,000sec, f/1.4, ISO 100, 50mm

In contrast, the kid’s section was just terribly sad.

1/500sec, f/1.8, ISO 100, 50mm

Many pretty gravestones and squirrels later…

1/200sec, f/4, ISO 100, 95mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 320, 32mm
1/200sec, f/4, ISO 320, 105mm

…we came to a large building which probably has a very specific technical name that I should probably know, which gave another variety of perspective shots.

1/100sec, f/8, ISO 320, 24mm

This being an old cemetery in London, there’s plenty of rich corpses lying around, so every so often you come across a large tomb. This was the biggest one we found, big and monolithic and looking like something out of a 1970s Doctor Who episode.

1/100sec, f/4, ISO 500, 24mm
1/125sec, f/8, ISO 640, 32mm

Most of the others were far less ostentatious by comparison.

1/200sec, f/4, ISO 640, 24mm
1/200sec, f/4, ISO 640, 24mm

All in all we did a complete loop of the place and I took a great many photographs. You can see the full set of images below, but just for good measure I’m going to close out with a trio of cute squirrel photos.

1/200sec, f/4, ISO 640, 88mm
1/200sec, f/4, ISO 640, 80mm

Including this last squirrel, who looks like he’s a messenger about to give news to the main villain that the hero and his friends have escaped.

1/640sec, f/4, ISO 640, 105mm

All in all, whilst I’m not sure this is the best walk I’ve taken with Catherine (either of our trips to Borough Market or West End Wander takes that spot for me) but overall I’m happy with the results.

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