29 June 2009

Adjusted Pictures...

No doubt I have a ton to learn when it comes to photography but what I don't know about photography I do know some about Photoshop. Here are some of the pictures I've played around with using various Photoshop filters for enhancement. All these pictures can be clicked for full size images as well as the rest of the picture you see on this blog.

Main Crypt Oakland,CA

This is supposed to be an antique style photo made from a regular pic.

This is the picture as above done in black and white. Click here for the original pic.

This is my attempt at a Bokeh Effect. Basically focusing on the subject and having the background sort of blurred. Also enhanced color...
Click here for original pic.

This is sort of when I first started playing with pics. I'm not happy with the enhancement but the pic is symbolic. "Death bringing forth life" Beautiful... Click here for original pic

This is my first attempt at faking a High Dynamic Range (HDR) photo. Too much to explain as far as enhancements. Click her for original pic.

These are just a few of the photos I've worked with. You can view the full album on my photobucket page.

Pyramids In Oakland?

When I first began my cemetery adventures I did a search of all the cemeteries in my area and decided to pick them off one by one little by little. I was immediately intrigued with Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA because I found that it had 3 families buried in pyramid type mausoleums. Well 2 of them are actual pyramids and one just sort of rests on top of the mausoleum itself.

William McKendree Gwin (October 9, 1805 – September 3, 1885)

Gwin was a doctor and one of California's first U.S. Senators. He moved to California in 1849 where he bought some land in Paloma, CA. Once there he established a gold mine which yielded millions of dollars. Gwin was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate serving from September 9, 1850, to March 3, 1855. I found a story that says Gwin had a duel with a Congressman named Joseph McCorkle over his mismanagement of federal patronage. Apparently neither was a good shot because although they both fired, only a donkey some distance away was shot dead.

Christian Otto Gerberding Miller (1865-1952) aka C.O.G. Miller

Originally built for his wife Einnim who died at the age of just 30 it now contains the remains of C.O.G Miller, his wife Einnim, his mother and father and a few other relatives. Einnim and C.O.G. were married for seven years and she bore him two daughters. A short two years later he married Janet McAlpine Watt who bore him two sons. Miller made his fortune in the Pacific Lighting Corporation which was cofounded by Walter B. Cline.

Bradbury Mausoleum

Sadly I can find no information on who is exactly buried here nor did I get a good picture of the top which actually has the pyramid. I even went as far as to call the cemetery to see if they could provide me information but since everything is stored in books and not on computer I'll have to make a trip down there soon to see what I can dig up. I did however get a picture of the angel which stands guard at the door. Maybe somebody reading this knows some more about the person or people buried within and can provide me a clue to go on. If you would like to see a better picture you can do so by clicking here.

As I seem to be uncovering more and more interesting things about these people in pyramids, I will be doing a more in depth biography in the near future. I can only speculate as to why they chose to be buried in pyramids. When I see them I immediately think Freemasons. But who knows? I could be way off. The Gwin pyramid is magnificent. I estimate it to be about 25 feet high by about 25 feet wide. Maybe more though, I didn't have a tape measure with me at the time. Each pyramid has 13 tiers which could represent any number of things. I think I could go on all day with speculation. Hopefully I can finds some actual facts pretty soon.

24 June 2009

Silveyville Cemetery Dixon, CA

Dixon California didn't actually start as as being Dixon. It actually started out as the town of Silveyville which has the distinction of having the first white settler in Solano county. In 1842 a man by the name of William Wolfskill secured a grant from the Mexican government measuring one league (A land league used to be defined as an hour's walk. It's now defined as exactly 3 miles (4828.032 m) long by 4 leagues wide. When gold was found the most logical route the mines from San Francisco ran from Benecia to Sacramento and passed right through the new settlement.Originally, on his own quest for gold, a man by the name of Elijah Silvey found his way to this area. He soon realized that an easier way to make money would be to open an inn and saloon in the area. Silvey called his inn or house "The Halfway House". In those days the trail was not yet defined and he would hang a red lantern high in the air so that any would be traveler would be able to find his way to his inn for the night. By 1865 this area was now being called Silveyville and boasted over 150 residents, a general store, a post office and a blacksmith to serve the needs of coaches traveling to Sacramento. Unfortunately Elijah Silvey met an early end when he fell from his porch.In 1868 the California Pacific Railroad was completed and the residents of Silveyville were disappointed to find out that the railroad would not be coming to Silveyville. A rancher by the name of Thomas Dickson donated 10 acres of land and built a house along the tracks. This depot became known as Dickson Station. Upon the first arrival of goods to Dickson Station the packages were marked Dixon Station. After battling the spelling for 2 years the country recorder finally filed the name under Dixon because at the time it seemed more simple and since then the name has stuck.

A weird thing happened to me while I was here. As I was about to take a picture of the final resting place of Elijah Silvey my camera started acting funny. I'm not sure what it was but I have this negative feeling like I shouldn't be taking the picture. So I snapped off two shots and the fresh batteries I had loaded right before I started taking the 50 or so pictures had died. They were brand new when I started and I usually get more pictures out of my camera. I turned my camera off and back on again and the settings were all changed. I had to delete several pictures before I figured it out and set everything back to default settings. After I did that the batteries were magically good again. Just thought I'd share that tidbit because I found it strange.

20 June 2009

Random Shots from Favorite Spots

I'm being lazy today so I've decided to share a few shots that I've taken at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA and Cypress Lawn in Colma, CA. In the future I'll probably be doing more research on some of these. Research seems to take the longest especially when all I start with is a name and burial location. Most of the time the only thing I know is that I like something about the way the person chose to be remembered...

Mountain View Cemetery Oakland, CA

Charles Main is buried here and once my research is complete I will have more information to provide. I can tell you for now that Main St. in San Francisco is named for him. I like this because of the Gothic architecture.

Mountain View Cemetery Oakland, CA

Absolutely one of my favorite shots of any that I've taken. Not sure who's buried here but a beautiful accidental shot...

Mountain View Cemetery Oakland, CA

Charles Crocker (1822-1888) I thought the angel atop his resting place looked rather bored. I found that interesting...

Cypress Lawn Colma, CA

I am still in the research phase of this one. I can tell you this statue is about 15 feet tall. You can not truly appreciate it unless you're standing there staring up. It's a possibility that Louis P. Drexler is buried here but I'm still researching...

Cypress Lawn Colma, CA

This is called the Angel of Grief or Pool Memorial. The detail in the wings of this statue is beyond description. Another must see...buried here is Jennie Roosevelt Pool cousin of Theodore Roosevelt

Cypress Lawn Colma, CA

Thomas Larkin is marked by this beautiful angel seen here. I have already done a piece on Larkin in a previous post but had to include this statue. The feather alone must have taken forever to complete. Simply amazing artwork.

14 June 2009

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park Colma, CA

Cypress Lawn Memorial Park was established in 1892 by Hamden Holmes Noble in Colma California. Colma became a necropolis of sorts when in 1900 the city of San Francisco passed an ordinance prohibiting the construction of any more cemeteries due to increasing property values. Then in 1912 San Francisco passed yet another ordinance evicting all existing cemeteries from city limits. Only two cemeteries were allowed to remain. One at Mission Dolores and the National Cemetery at The Presidio. The remaining bodies in other cemeteries were then relocated to Colma which has since been given the name "City of the Silent". Colma is now home to 17 cemeteries which take up approximately 73% of the land. As of 2006 Colma had approximately 1500 above ground residents and 1.5 million underground. I guess there's a saying in Colma that goes "It's great to be alive in Colma". To date Cypress Lawn is the only cemetery I have visited in Colma.It boasts some of the most beautiful statues and bronze work that I've seen yet. I can't say enough how it always amazes me the amount of money that people spend on death. This monument is the burial site of lawyer LLoyd Tevis (March 20, 1824 – July 24, 1899) an American business man. Together with his brother in law and George Hearst he also shared stakes in copper and gold mines, headed the Wells Fargo Banking and Pony Express lines for more than 20 years. A third of a million acres was owned by the Kern County Land Company which he also owned with his brother-in-law. He was also the brother-in-law of John Breckinridge the 14th vice president of the United States. The "Tevis Cup" is named for him and is the prize for the annual Tevis Cup ride which is an equestrian endurance ride held annually and requires the riders to make the 100 mile Pony Express journey from Tahoe to Auburn in one day. (Click for info)Another impressive piece I found here was the Larkin Angel. Buried here is Thomas Oliver Larkin (September 16, 1802 - October 27, 1858). He was one of the original signers of the California Constitution and the first and only consul to California. Discouraged by the opportunities in New England he quickly moved to North Carolina and South Carolina where he operated stores and sawmills. By 1831 he saw that he would never become wealthy in the Carolinas and decided to set sail for California which was still under Mexican control to be a clerk for his half brother John Cooper, a ship captain living in Monterey. He soon began operating his own flour mill and began trading with Mexico and Hawaii, dealing in flour, lumber, potatoes, horses, and furs. It was soon after that Larkin decided that California should become American. In 1844 he was appointed consul at Monterey and held that position for 4 years. In 1846 he began convincing Californians to think of independence and by July they had declared the Bear Flag Republic. After serving as part of the constitutional convention of 1849 he retired from the public eye to pursue business. He died in San Francisco In October of 1858, of typhoid fever, having lived to see California admitted to the Union.

09 June 2009

Oak Hill Memorial Park San Jose, CA

San Jose's Oak Hill Memorial park originally began in 1839 when people were given permission by city officials to be buried under the oak trees at the south end of town. Then in 1848 a man by the name of Chester Lymon laid out approximately 25 acres for the burial of Protestants and Catholics and 4 acres to be used as a potter's field. Which I've just learned is a burial place for strangers of sort. (see wiki) The cemetery has since been expanded to more than 300 acres. This is the oldest secular cemetery in California which makes sense because apparently San Jose is the oldest city in California as well. San Jose was incorporated in 1777 and at the time the cemetery was simply known as "The Graveyard". It wasn't until 1933 that citizens decided to rename it Oak Hill Memorial Park. Upon entry the first thing I noticed was the fountain of the 12 apostles. This is a beautiful fountain and I found it interesting how each apostle seemed to have his own unique personality captured by the artist. The individual apostle pictures can be found here. I usually drive around a cemetery before I decide where I was going to start. Today I decided to start my walk at the huge statue of Jesus at the top of the hill. This statue towered over me. Of to his left and right stood 2 smaller yet equally beautiful statues of women kneeling and behind him a beautiful mausoleum which I did not visit because there were services going on and I didn't want to disturb anyone out of respect. On his pedestal I'd say that Jesus stood at least 30 feet high or more. I'm not too good at judging height so this is just an estimate. Behind me I could see the city of San Jose but as you can probably tell from the pictures it wasn't a very clear day and it rained a little. We didn't care though we had umbrella armed and were ready to take it on rain or shine. We had just visited the Winchester Mystery house and beforehand I had done a quick search and decided to couple in the cemetery when we were done unbeknown to my lovely girlfriend who was also excited when she found out we'd be going. Anyway enough about that back to the cemetery. This cemetery also has a large population of Asians which adorn their graves with beautiful jade statues as well but the hardest section for me to visit in any cemetery is always the military section. Oak Hill Memorial has a section dedicated to Union Veteran's of the Civil War. This is always difficult because my brother is in the U.S. Marines and has done two tours in Iraq. I'm always thankful that he's come back each time but sections like this always remind me that not everyone does. I don't like to get emotional when I visit cemeteries but every once in awhile I see something that I didn't want to see and it makes me think about my own family and the families that have lost loved ones which is why I usually stick to the older sections.

03 June 2009

The Art of Mountain View Cemetery Oakland, CA

Originally when I was attempting to come up with an idea for this post I was going to do a history on an individual person, which I'll save for later. But after going through what pictures I have I decided that the reason I fell in love with this cemetery wasn't a single person. This is probably the most beautiful cemetery I've visited to date and I get excited every time I know I'll be going. Mountain View Cemetery is located at 5000 Piedmont Avenue Oakland, CA. It was established in 1863 by a group of East Bay Pioneers under the California Rural Cemetery Act of 1859. The layout was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who also designed New York City's Central Park and much of Stanford University. This cemetery boasts many beautiful statues, lush green lawns and beautiful trees surrounded by elaborate tombs built by many pioneers of the Oakland and San Francisco area. This cemetery is home to many famous people such as Edson Adams who designed the layout of the city of Oakland, Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia), The Ghiradelli family of the Ghiradelli Chocolate Company, Jeremiah C. Sullivan, Union Army general and staff member of Ulysses S. Grant, and Andre Hicks known as the Bay Area rapper Mac Dre who's grave I have yet to find but will be looking for next time I go there, just to name a few. As I learn more about these cemeteries myself I will definitely be revisiting them to gain more information and insight into the lives of the people buried here.
Probably the most intriguing thing I noticed in Mountain View Cemetery were the pyramids located here. Yes some of the people actually buried themselves in pyramids. The largest of these belonging to William M. Gwin (1805-1885) - One of California's first two U.S. Senators. You can not possibly understand the beauty and intricacies of this tomb unless you see it for yourself. It's funny that looking around the web there isn't any information as to why someone would choose a pyramid as their final resting place. Perhaps somebody out there knows some more information on this. There will be plenty more to come on this cemetery because I already have plenty more to talk about...For more information on this cemetery please visit their website.


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