Monday, 22 August 2011

The Athens Angel

Lest anyone interpret my last couple of posts to mean that all I did in the US earlier this month was hang out with my dad, let me set the record straight: I did also go out and about with my mother, and occasionally the trips didn't even involve shopping.

One thing we did was visit the "Weeping Angel" of Athens' West Street Cemetery. During my photography days back in high school, I took some portraits of the angel that turned out fairly well, especially once I applied sepia tone in order to make them look antique. However, although I liked the angle of the shots, the pictures weren't quite as crisp and focused as I would have liked. Since acquiring my new cameras, I have been looking forward to returning to the cemetery for another go. My mom came along on the photo expedition in order to try out her new photography equipment, as well.

One thing that's a bit frustrating is that the area around the angel is not necessarily conducive to getting a nice clear, contrasting picture of her entire body; her light right-hand side fades into the sky, while her dark left wing tips fade into the tree. Of course, neither of those compares to the difficulties of trying to shoot from the angel's right side, which requires that you position yourself facing a house inhabited by college students and decorated, for some strange reason, by an old pop machine sitting in the yard. It doesn't exactly help create the gravitas that you'd normally associate with such a monument. In the end, though, I was able to acquire a decent shot:

I have a hard time choosing between sepia tone and black-and-white. However, I think that both work better than full color--maybe because they make the subject seem more venerable or solemn, somehow. In general, I also like the side shots more than those snapped from the front, but I did get one of the latter that made me rethink that opinion:

This image also allows you to see the entire statue, including the base upon which is inscribed the purpose of the display--which, as you can see, is to memorialize the unknown dead. My mom theorized that the angel is writing in a book because she is taking notes to document those who have fallen--because, after all, even if we humans don't know who they are, an angel surely would. I think it's surprisingly easy to overlook the fact that the angel writing in a book at all, though certain angles do emphasize this more than others:

After I got home and had the chance to look through my photographs, I was feeling pretty happy with the images that I acquired. Then my mom turned her computer around and showed me some of the pictures that she took:

I was so caught up taking head-to-foot images that it never even occurred to me to get some close-up shots. As a result, I didn't do nearly as good a job capturing the features that gave the angel her nickname. Also, how cool is it that the the second two photos kind of line up as though they were deliberately taken as a pair? The final shot is my favorite, not only of my mom's, but of all the images here. I was so jealous of it that I nearly went back to take one like it myself, but then I realized how redundant and silly that would be. It just goes to show that, no matter how old and experienced you may think you are, you can still be schooled by your mother.

Click here to read more about the Weeping Angel and other supernatural oddities in Athens, Ohio.

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