Friday, July 30, 2010

Overgrown churchyards

click photo to enlarge
There's a lot to admire about an overgrown churchyard. To start with there's a certain harmony between a place of death, burial and return to the earth "from whence we came", and the luxuriant growth of grasses, bramble, cow parsley, poppies, dandelions and the like. Moreover, it tends to be the distant parts of the churchyard with the older gravestones, the ones that are infrequently, if ever, visited by the descendants of the deceased, that decline into an abandoned state. And, with that neglect the stone memorials become surfaces for mosses and lichens to cling to, for ivy to climb, and for thickets to envelop. The sight of the pointed tops and crosses peeping above the vegetation has a melancholic feel that has appeal for anyone of a romantic turn of mind.

Autumn is often the best time of year to experience this sight of benign neglect. At that season the plants are beginning to die back revealing more of the old stones. The browns and creams of dead grass and dying leaves blend better with the earth colours of the gravestones. And the thin, dry stalks and stems of dessicated umbellifers lay a delicate tracery across the flat, upright slabs.

However, this summer the heat and dryness has caused many of the plants in such places to die back much earlier than usual. On a visit to the church at Navenby, Lincolnshire, I came across such a sight and took the opportunity to capture it with my camera. A black and white conversion made better use of the delicate, dead foreground stems.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 16mm (32mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.1
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On