June 21
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Larry standing beside HC Mattingly Headstone

Some times you go to a cemetery, find an ancestors headstone, and no matter what you do you can’t get a good photograph because of light, erosion or a myriad of other problems.

In this case the headstone had multiple problems. It was made of sugar dolomite which was horribly eroded and was back lit on a beautiful sunny afternoon.  It was lit so poorly that we had to run our hands across the lettering just to make sure it was the headstone we were looking for.  1500 miles away from home in a cemetery I might never get back to.

So I took a photo of Larry standing next to it .. . a plain greyish swirl of nothingness.

The solution to the problem was a grave stone rubbing.

  • After doing the grave stone rubbing we returned home and went to a copy center where I was able to have the original reduced to an 8 x 10″ copy.
  •   HC Mattingly Headstone dk small HC Mattingly Headstone Small
  • I took the 8 x 10 copy home and scanned it.
  • Then opened it in Photoshop, although I am sure there are many other photo manipulation programs that would have worked.
  • I cleaned up the headstone rubbing getting rid of crayon lines where they did not belong.
  • I used the magic wand (in Photoshop) to capture just the black crayon from the print.
  • I layered that over the digital image of Larry standing by the grey headstone.
  • I used the dodge tool to lighten just the headstone.
  • Sized it to fit the headstone
  • Used “skew” to make it fit perfectly
  • Set the opacity to 50% so the swirly grey of the stone showed through and the black looked more realistic.
  • Collapsed the layers
  • And now have a better picture of Henry Clay Mattingly’s headstone than is realistically possible.
  • I have never posted the picture without the entire story so I am not trying to fool anybody
  • Unfortunately nobody who has copied it and posted it to their own page has ever posted the story – or given me credit for taking the picture . . . oh well . . .


Larry & HC Headstone Without Rubbing Larry & HC Headstone With Rubbing

Here is the before and after … .may not be authentic but it shows the information as it was intended without any alteration to the original headstone.


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