Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Using Mirrors to Photograph Gravestones

Yesterday I got to do some cemetery exploration with some fellow researchers. That's a rare treat for me. During this outing I got to see a mirror in action used to improve gravestone photos. While photographing on my own this is not really an option. If you have a helper be sure to bring a mirror along and make it a light weight one! It's easy to see how the light from the mirror aided in reading the gravestones.

Without the aid of light from the mirror

with the mirror

without the mirror

with the mirror


  1. What a great idea! Will do that when my husband comes with me next time.

    1. I used to bring my oldest daughter to help me transcribe for that reason, and also she could read the lower inscriptions alot easier!

  2. How large a mirror was that, Marian? Definitely makes a great difference, eh? Thanks for sharing.

  3. Celia, it was a full length mirror but a light one.

  4. Perfect timing on this post - I was just deciding when I could go back and take another better photo of a stone.

    The photo I took of a great-uncle's stone has had me looking for an "S1 Division" in the 324th infantry in WWI, but someone has pointed out to me that he never heard of a letter division and that it is probably "81 Div."

    (Still looks like S1 to me, though and a few others online have transcribed similar stones.)

    So, I think this technique will be helpful!

    BTW, for my limited use it wouldn't be worth the cost to me, but this company has some interesting (but somewhat expensive) folding glassless mirrors:

  5. Haven't tried it, but others have told me a piece of white poster board creates enough light reflection on a sunny day to use for the same purpose. Much lighter to carry if it works.

  6. Very cool! I have done something similar with this type of thing - Translucent/dp/B003N1KD5A/ref=reg_hu-rd_add_1_dp
    - inexpensive, light and collapsible.

  7. Nancy Skinner WhiteMarch 3, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    thanks so much for the great idea on photographing headstones that are hard to read. It really improved what you could see.