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Friday Slide Show: Returning to DiMaggio's Grave Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

18 October 2019

A bit over nine years ago we were testing a Canon A3100 and found ourselves at Joe DiMaggio's grave in Colma, Calif., as the sun was setting. We wrote about it in the Imaging Resource Newsletter, which we edited for 13 years. And we've reprised that piece below for old time's sake.

Canon A3100. From May 2009.

The other day with the car in the shop in Colma, we thought we'd walk up to Pet's Rest, the pet cemetery, to take a few grave side shots. We thought it would be amusing, perhaps even touching.

Fortunately for us, the sprinklers were on. Photography and sprinklers do not mix. So we walked along the chain link fence reading the tributes. By the time we got to the end of the row, we were saddened. And sadness doesn't mix very well with photography either.

We had a long wait for our car (which stretched into two days) so we continued on to Holy Cross where Joe DiMaggio's grave is easily found near the Receiving Chapel, which is where the hearse takes the coffin for prayers before going on to the gravesite.

It was an overcast day unlike that sunset nine years ago. We knew we wouldn't get the same kind of shot.

In fact, those Canon snaps were taken in the spring as the season began in early May. And these Raw files would be recorded during the playoffs. Bookends.

We started the sequence with a set of images approaching the black tomb. And we took a few close-ups. We particularly like the one of the balls that are left there reflected in the black stone. It's a bit of poetry.

Olympus E-PL1. This week.

The difference between the two sets of photos is interesting for a couple of reasons: the time of year, the weather. But even more intriguing to us is the difference in the A3100 shots after Lightroom got through with them.

When you're reviewing a camera, you don't edit the shots. So this was a chance to optimize those old A3100 JPEGs in the latest Lightroom. And they stood up to the process very well. Compare to the image linked in the reprised story below.

The time of year and the weather favored the A3100 JPEG images but the Olympus images taken with the revised kit lens on the Micro Four Thirds camera of the same era enjoyed the advantages of Raw processing.

It's sort of a World Series in itself between the digicam and the Micro Four Thirds camera.

At DiMaggio's Grave

It started innocently enough. After dinner, Joyce suggested we go to Target. She needed a few things. And we agreed, just to get out of the house for a change.

Nice as it was to go for a spin, the idea of ending up at Target became more and more disturbing the closer we got. We prefer small stores. And we never buy anything anyway.

So when we got to the parking lot we volunteered to return in an hour. We'd go to the cemetery, we thought. We have lots of friends there and they don't mind when we just drop in.

But was it still open?

It turns out that the gates aren't locked until sunset. And sunset in the spring is around 8 p.m. We had plenty of time.

We briefly visited the old boys, pruning their headstones and promising next time we'd bring them a little something special. Those old guys are more fun dead than most of the people we know who are still alive. Just remembering some of the times we had always brings on at least a smile. We may be the only person in the cemetery with a smile on their face.

We'd brought along a Canon A3100 so we took a few shots of the geese honking around the grounds and a movie of the flags in the military section of the cemetery. Then we got in the car and started back to Target before anybody had a chance to close the gates early.

That's when it occurred to us to stop by DiMaggio's tomb.

It's easy to find if you know where it is. There's even a parking place right in front of it. A short black stone tomb with a plaque that concludes with the phrase, "Grace, dignity and elegance personified."

There's always a bucket of baseballs and a couple of bats at the front of the tomb. Tributes from modern day players to one of the greatest who ever played the game.

The first thing that caught our eye, though, was the long shadow the short tomb had cast over the grass. The black roof of the tomb was a glaring white and the sun was a distant disc behind it. We lined up the shot using a 16:9 portrait orientation and fired.

Any digicam is going to blow those highlights, we realized, disappointed in our capture. But we'd done no worse than made a sketch to remind us to return with more firepower.

We would have liked to have made a Raw capture to salvage more of the highlights and preserve the detail of the black tomb. But, frankly, no Raw capture would have been able to recover those highlights. We were shooting directly into the sun.

No, what we really needed was a tripod to shoot a sequence of bracketed shots, exposing for the highlights all by themselves and the tomb all by itself. Later we could composite them as an HDR image with enough color in the sky to see the disc of the sun.

And even better, a few clouds in the sky to give it a little more drama and a little more color, bringing the highlights down. Maybe even a little later in the day, with the sun lower.

That thought, though, reminded us that the gates are locked at sunset. So we hopped back in the car and made our way quietly past the honking geese to the exit.

That's when it dawned on us that DiMaggio's tomb points toward the setting sun only in spring at the start of another baseball season. It's as if the Yankee Clipper has belted another one out of the park. Not to score any runs for those of us still on the field but to underscore a point.

It's how you play the game.

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