For me Memorial Day is a contemplative holiday, one where I think about friends and strangers who died serving their country, most of whom were much younger than I am. They never got to my age and it is humbling. So on a misty, drizzly Memorial Day, I went to a local cemetery I’d wanted to shoot, Riverview Cemetery in East Haddam CT.

This cemetery was established in 1773 as The Landing Burying Yard. It is right next to St Stephen’s Episcopal Church and as the name implies, you can see the Connecticut river from the cemetery itself. A knoll rises to the west where a monument to Maj General Joseph Spencer stands. As with many early cemeteries in the area, a number of the headstones are made out of fragile Portland brownstone, an easily friable sandstone that has not held up to the elements well. Many have intricate ‘death’s head‘ carvings.

For this shoot, I strolled around with my Hasselblad 500 C/M, loaded with Neopan Acros 100, developed in Diafine 5+5. I didn’t bring a filter, which in retrospect might have been a good idea because the sky/clouds went straight white with no detail at all. I’ve edited most of these only with respect to level adjustments. In a few cases I cropped to 8×10 format as if I was going to wet print them (I tend to not print square). Some I cropped because the shot was 1/4 to 1/3 sky and it was just featureless and added nothing to the image. All of these I used the Zeiss Planar T* 80mm that came with my Hassy.

Champion detail
Death’s Head
Vertical monuments
Tears in the rain
Maj Gen Joseph Spencer