A visit to Nunhead Cemetery

Nunhead Cemetery, one of the “Magnificent Seven” Victorian cemeteries in London, was the location of an afternoon walk last Sunday. While originally open & landscaped, these days Nunhead is primarily a woodland which happens to have gravestones hiding in its undergrowth.

As a result of the unchecked plant growth & minimal maintenance many of the graves are in a somewhat hazardous state. On the day we were there, FONC had one of their volunteer maintenance days taking place, doing what they could to keep things in some sort of order

Due to the time of year, the light was fading fast, even though it was only around 3 in the afternoon. Fortunately, anticipating the lack of light amongst the trees, I had packed a Nikon SB-600 flash in my bag. For the image of the cross below, an exposure of f/13 @ 1/200s ISO 640 removed pretty much all of the remaining ambient light. The SB-600 hand held above & to the right of the camera provided the only light on the cross

One of the highlights of Nunhead cemetery is the grand avenue running from the main entrance to the (now derelict) chapel.

In the image above, the underneath of the archway gets much less light than the surrounding brickwork. I decided to have a go at illuminating the archway with a flash burst. To hide the flashgun from the camera, it had to be positioned behind one of the pillars. Ideally I would have had two flashguns, one behind each pillar to ensure even lighting, but I had to make do with one set to give the widest possible spread. Since it was hidden behind a pillar, the flash couldn’t be triggered using Nikon CLS which requires line of sight. Along with the flash though, my bag also contained a pair of Cactus V5 wireless triggers, which operate using radio waves rather than infrared. Rather than try to match ambient and flash light levels, I decided to accentuate the interior of the archway:

The images above were all taken with a DSLR, but I also had my ZeroImage 2000 pinhole camera long. Using Ilford Delta 3200 ISO film, I was getting anywhere between 8 and 80 second long exposures. The roll is still waiting to be sent off for processing, so I’ve no idea how the images will turn out, but I’m hoping for some really grainy & gritty shots. Due to the failing light (and the gate closing time of 4pm), I only spent just over 1+1/2 hours at the cemetery, which is barely enough to scratch the surface. It is a location on the list to be re-visited later in the year…

One thought on “A visit to Nunhead Cemetery

  1. Kashyap Chamarthy

    Accidentally stumbled across this post, now I’m curious — did you ever send that ZeroImage 2000 pinhole camera roll for processing? If so, got your result posted somewhere?

    Reply

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