Steve Skafte – Poet and Explorer of Roads, Cemeteries and Old Places in Nova Scotia

I found Steve Skafte (YouTube video posts) today from a post on the CBC site. He was interviewed about his photographs and research of abandoned roads in Nova Scotia.

When he was a kid, his bedroom walls were covered in maps. He was fascinated with exploring Nova Scotia, so once he travelled all the roads he could track down in his community, his attention shifted to the roads that weren’t clearly marked.

The province categorizes these roads as K-class, meaning the roadways are owned by the province but not maintained and rarely used by the public. Skafte thinks most of the roads, which range from a few hundred metres to about five kilometres in length, haven’t been kept up for 50 to 60 years.

Before going out to explore, Skafte carefully studies property lines online to see where the abandoned roads may be. He then puts on a pair of hiking boots, grabs his camera and heads out.

Quoted from CBC – Meet the man mapping out Nova Scotia’s abandoned roads.

His books of poetry, photographs and history are available at his Etsy shop, Photofables. The books and calendars about exploring the old roads and places seem to sell out quickly.

Visit the groups he runs on Facebook:
Abandoned Nova Scotia
Abandoned Roads of Nova Scotia

Poetry with photographs.

Cemetery Photography from Big Paul

This post is originally from Big Paul, on his photography site which has gone offline. I had listed the link in the ODP (now Curlie) and I tried to find another source for the content, but other than a Flickr group, there was nothing else to be found. So I am reposting this post, about cemetery photography, from the original site, as an archive. I did not repost images, they were not loading and the text is what I really wanted to keep. The instructions and advice are good and time isn’t likely to change that.

I love a good cemetery. That probably sounds morbid, but it’s not. They’re peaceful places, for one thing; hardly anyone ever bothers you. Besides, I figure that since one of these days I’ll be going into one and not leaving, it’d probably help to start getting used to them now. On a more serious note, cemeteries have a unique sense of history about them that not many other places do. You learn a lot about an area – the way its demographics changed over time, mortality rates, the people who settled and built an area – by who’s buried there. You also realize that for all the expense associated with the death industry (and it is that), we just don’t do mourning like we used to. Don’t believe me? Compare headstones from the 1800’s or even the early part of the last century with what you get now; we used to send our dead out in style, versus sending them out in the equivalent of a Happy Meal container.

• Bring bags with you. Most cemeteries are well-kept. Some, however, aren’t, or they’re located in areas where people tend to use them as shortcuts (or, worse still, dumping grounds). If you see trash, pick it up, and don’t ever leave trash of your own behind.
• I say the following as someone who smokes a pack a day: Don’t smoke in the cemetery. It’s just tacky.
• Likewise, if you’ve got an MP3 player, mobile phone, or anything else on you that makes noise, shut it off.
• Bear in mind that many cemeteries are private property. You may be asked to leave; if you are, do so, since you’re trespassing if you don’t.
• You may also be asked what you’re doing in the cemetery. If that’s the case, be honest and respectful.
• Speaking of respect, a little goes a long way. If you see a family nearby visiting a loved one, or if there’s a service going on, put the camera away. The photo’s not so important that you have to be an asshole to get it.
• Some cemeteries actually have photo policies. Some may explicitly state that you’re not allowed to take photos (rare, but it happens), while still others will allow picture taking as long as you don’t sell the photos, or may require a special arrangement if you want to sell what you’ve taken. It can also be helpful to call ahead to find out.
• Watch your step. For one thing, you don’t want to walk over someone’s floral arrangements, flags, and the like. For another, you may come across uneven ground, or even sunken graves, from time to time.
• Disturb as little as possible on or around a gravesite. It’s one thing if a stone or plaque has a layer of leaves and dirt on it; there’s nothing wrong with cleaning someone’s resting place.
* If, on the other hand, the marker is partially obscured by flowers, toys, or anything else left there by loved ones, leave it as it is.**
• One last rule of thumb: if you’re not sure whether you feel right taking pictures in a graveyard, ask yourself one simple question: how would you feel if someone were taking a picture of your or your loved one’s tombstone? I’ve thought about this from time to time, and I think that as long as someone’s being respectful, I wouldn’t get bent out of shape about it. You may feel differently, and therein, I suppose, lies your answer.

If you want to learn more about cemeteries themselves, there are two great resources. The first would be a local church or historical society, who can tell you a lot about the town and its families (especially useful if you’re not familiar with an area). The other is a book that you can easily find online, called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography which explains burial customs, iconography, and the significance of certain types of grave markers. It’s not a photography how-to, but it’s invaluable if you’re as interested in the history of a place and its dead as you are in the photos themselves. *One exception would be stones, since it’s common custom to leave stones on or near the grave marker when you’ve visited. This is most common in Jewish cemeteries, but I’ve seen it done elsewhere as well. **One site goes so far as to suggest moving anything that’s in the way of your photos and replacing it afterward, which strikes me as a step too far.

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