As we come into summer, it’s likely you’ll be on the road at least once before Memorial Day.
Whether you’re visiting relatives or exploring old cemeteries, you’ll probably spend at least a few hours visiting one of America’s historic sites – - after all, this is the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War! There’s definitely a lot to see this summer.
*Click images to enlarge
Here are 5 tips to getting unforgettable photos of historic sites
1. Wide, Normal, Close
Think “wide, normal, close”. When photographing an historic site, you can capture the essence of a place by showing it in a wide angle, normal shots and close-ups. For example, if you’re visiting a National Cemetery, the viewer will get a real sense of place if you shoot
- front gate
- front age signage
- wide angle view of the cemetery, in context with its surroundings
- wide angle of tombstones
- close-up of interesting tombstones
- close-up of interesting cemetery features (trees, stones, water features)
2. Bits and Pieces
Photographing buildings can be a challenge as it may be difficult to get far enough away from the building to capture the whole structure. When this happens, concentrate on taking photos of interesting pieces of the building:
- front steps
- window with reflection
- elaborate door or window hardware
- front door
3. Go Vertical!
Don’t forget to turn the camera to vertical. Most people naturally shoot with the camera in a horizontal position. However, many subjects lend themselves much more naturally to a vertical shot. Vertical subjects can include:
4. Trick the Camera
Use your flash when the sun is behind your subject. If your subject is backlit (the sun is behind it), your camera will NOT automatically flash. That’s because the sensor is seeing a lot of light (because you’re basically shooting into the light) and won’t turn on the flash. If you’re shooting in this situation, turn on the flash manually - force it to shoot. If you don’t use your flash when photographing a backlit subject, here’s what will happen: Your subject will be in deep shadow and can even be in silhouette. Turning on the flash will add the needed light.
5. Just Ask
A lot of historic sites – especially during the summer – have re-enactors who play the part of well-known historic figures or everyday folks who lived during the specific time period. Almost every re-enactor I’ve met loves to talk about who they are (staying in historic context) and also love getting their picture taken.
Don’t be afraid to just ask them to pose for you – they make great photo subjects!
If you’d like to learn more about digital photography for genealogists, check out my Digital Photo class over at Family Tree University.