This may sound macabre but from time to time I make use of an old cemetery to test out my lenses! It makes sense really, as it’s local, I rarely see another living soul (no pun intended) and I can focus on the lettering, positioning and texture of the tombstones to assess the sharpness and bokeh (the aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image) of a lens at different aperture settings. The lens on test here was a second-hand Nikon f/2.8 20mm AI-S; this is a manual focus lens which first went into production around 1984 and is light as a feather at 259g. This example appears pin-sharp (to my eyes anyway) from around f/8; so it was a good buy.
Auchterarder’s old cemetery isn’t in the same league as the impressive Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris which I visited in April 2015 but it does have one or two gems; as here an ancient, flat tombstone giving way to the grasp of nature. For some reason, I started thinking about William Blake’s poem, ‘The Garden of Love’ I had read in English class at school; and so a simple lens test evolved in post-production into this Romantic-Gothic creation. I rather like the result also the connection to Blake.
1/200 sec @ f/8 ISO 200 Nikon D3 with 20mm f/2.8 AI-S lens Infrared
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.
And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not.’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.
And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys & desires.