#1273. Dearly Departed – a worms eye view

By Ian Varkevisser | Art & Creativity

Mar 22
A loose group of us local oddball snappers get together every now and then to go on a collective outing. As part of a whatsapp group that had become dormant I was lamenting with my good friend Zelma the demise of the group. If you remember Zelma you will know they don't come much more oddball than her. I am sure she won't mind me saying so. But I digress. 

Looks like that group is dead I lamented. Well start another one. And so I opened a Legion whatsapp group and we invited all the usual suspects we hang out with from time to time.

As the pews started filling up inevitably the subject of the  eulogy had to be broached. How about the dead end of town , the cemetery in Maitland, I tossed into the mix. A unanimous show of hands went up for a quiet Sunday morning the following week.

Ok so what would be a unique perspective on the subject I mused? Well between the lyrics of the Doors in mind and what with being eaten by worms. Worms. Worms. Well a damn fish eye lens could well be the same as worms eye lens could it not. 

That prompted a visit to the supplier of discontinued lensbaby's to pick a bargain basement ultra wide 5.8mm fish eye for the princely sum of 80 EUR. There goes another tank of diesel.

Now the 5.8mm has 185-degree angle of view and ability to focus up to as close as 1/4-inch. Damned if you don't have to be a contortionist not to get your own feet in every shot, or that pesky shadow of man holding camera somewhere in the bottom of the frame. But c'est la vie sometimes you have to embrace the picture imperfect.

The lens features manual focus and a polished internal barrel for flare effects. Yep with that and a 185 degree angle of view in conditions of sunlight every image looks like it has been viewed by a worm lying cosily at the rear of a tin can.

That just left one thing. Well it was obvious it had to be high contrast black and white for the sombre occasion. Time to test out Fuji's infamous Acros and so I stumped for Ritchie Roesch's Fujifilm Acros Push  recipe. 

And off we tootled the following Sunday with the dulcet tones of the Doors emanating from the car stereo. 

"Cemetery, cool and quiet
Hate to leave your sacred lay
Dread the milky coming of the day."

The Doors


The Weeping Widow

Fallen Angel

Yellow Pages Dial A Grave

Kicked The Bucket

Drink Yourself To An Early Grave

Wherever You Lay Your Hat

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Fell From The Sky

On Top Of The World

Fenced In Forever

Discarded Out In The Open

In A Land Far Away

Worldly Possessions

No Longer Standing

There Is No Escape

Images from the group outing and subsequent visits to other local graveyards.

For more  see a short 4:24 electronic tome on the graveyard shift.

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  • Nancee Rostad says:

    So very clever and amusing, Ian!
    Here’s your custom congratulatory haiku:

    Worm eye view reveals
    Dearly departed delights
    Kudos for Ian

  • jean pierre guaron says:

    Hi Ian.
    Well you surely got me there! I decided when I was a kid I want no part of funerals, or burials – not that I’m an atheist, but because I simply see it as barbaric and pre-medieval.

    Yet the vast majority of people on this planet all demand some kind of send off like that, whenever anyone close to them dies.

    Death doesn’t bother me that way – I just see it as ceasing to inhabit our bodies, but still existing as spirits, so I only miss physical contact – and keep in touch with them all, in my heart and in my mind.

    As punishment for my outrageously antisocial attitudes, I get stuck with invitations I can’t refuse, to go to funerals when I can’t begin to understand the whole point and purpose of them. And a lot of the time, they’re real tear-jerker shows.

    One was so awful I couldn’t continue to watch, and walked out – it started at 9am, by 12:30pm I’d well and truly had enough, and just as they lowered the coffin – a white coffin, something like 4 feet AKA 1.2m long, with the corpse of a 6 year old girl who’d just died of cancer – the sextons let the rope slip, the coffin hit the bottom of the grave with a loud crash and splintered, and the girl’s mother, who was seated on the edge of the grave, burst into tears and nearly fell into the grave as well. Altogether too much, for me! I just fled the scene! Very embarrassing thing to do.

    Treating this post as photos, though, instead of all those thoughts, they’re remarkably original.

    I could see they were originally digi, so I went back to your introduction for an explanation – does the Acros Push recipe give better blacks & highlights? – a lot of my attempts to translate digi back into B&W have struck me as a bit flat, but that might be because all of mine are Nikon.

    Did you take a wheel barrow full of “accessories” with you, or is it normal for people to leave junk like an empty beer bottle, an old business directory, a defunct shoe, an unwanted hat, etc, on people’s graves?

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pete,

      A good photo journalist never loads a story with props. So saying i did hang my sun hat – it often gets in the way of composing shots – particularly when shooting in portrait mode.

      I refer you to the Acros link in the blog for the technical details of what it does and what sort of film similarities it produces. Well worth the read.

      But long story short yes it does basically crunch the blacks and increase the highlights to produce high contrast.

      I started out digital with Nikon but when mirrorless came in went over to the dark side. Fuji users seemed to be a lot more experimental than staid Nikonites and Canonites and lots about Fuji appealed at the time and still does.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Yikes! Hadn’t noticed the tomb with a pair of arms reaching up out of it!
        Yes I’m afraid I’ve ended ip as a devout Nikonite, with a splash of Carl Zeiss thrown in. Just one
        other bit of gear, a Canon Powershot, which I mostly use as a point and shoot – the manual is almost incomprehensible!
        Watching others, Fuji impresses every time. Back in the days of film, I ended up shooting Fujicolor. But I’ve never considered the leap to Fuji digital.

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