Dayton National Cemetery
One of the oldest Veteran Affairs institutions lies in Dayton, Ohio. The bill authorizing its construction was one of the last bills signed by Abraham Lincoln. It opened in 1867 as the Central Branch of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers and Seamen. The Dayton Soldiers Home was built following the Civil War and today serves as the resting place for 59,000 veterans. These art prints capture the cemetery and surrounding grounds along the western edge of the Miami Valley.
Dayton VA Landmarks and Events
As if the VA’s prominent location overlooking Dayton, Ohio, and the infinite rows of white marble headstones of Dayton National Cemetery are not enough, there are additional features captured on this page:
- Dayton Soldiers' Monument. A 30-foot marble column that dominates the landscape. The monument was dedicated in 1877 and honors all of the veterans buried in the cemetery.
- Dayton VA Grotto Gardens. Created by Charles Bech, a landscape designer was one of several steps that provide healing veterans a quiet atmosphere of quiet and solace.
- Home Protestant Church. The Home Protestant Church is located on the Dayton VA Medical Center campus. The Home Chapel was the first permanent church built by the U.S. government. The Dayton VA Medical Center was founded in 1867 and is one of the three oldest facilities of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Wreaths Across America. Each Christmas volunteers and scouts decorate the headstones with wreaths. My first year in Dayton, it snowed on Christmas morning. I hope these images pay it justice.
- Decoration Day. In the days before Memorial Day, volunteers and scouts fill the cemetery once again, giving each headstone a small US Flag.
Fine Art Photography: Capturing Emotions
Fine art photography has a unique way of capturing the emotions associated with places like Dayton National Cemetery. I try to convey the profound sense of honor, respect, and gratitude that permeates the air in such hallowed spaces. Here are some of my approaches:
- Composition. It is hard to stand among the white marble headstones all perfectly aligned and stretching out of view. The seemingly infinite rows in their own way signify the infinite sacrifice.
- Lighting. The interplay of natural light is crucial in fine art photography. I’ve dwelled among the stones during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset when the warm, soft light casts long shadows. I’ve also passed through on those days under burning blue skies where azure hues contrast with the white headstones.
- Perspective. Although I am normally a wide-angle lens photographer, the longer focal lengths drive the eye toward the singular stone…making one ponder about the story.
- Black and White. I don’t have many images on this page, but I like using a technique called selective desaturation. By removing green and yellows, the stones remain white, and the background becomes black and white, which isolates the US flags in full color. For me, it’s a solemn effect.
Dayton National Cemetery stands as a poignant symbol of the nation's commitment to remembering and honoring its veterans. Through the lens of fine art photography, the emotions, history, and peaceful setting of this sacred place are immortalized in a way that touches the hearts of those who view the images. As we reflect on the sacrifices made by our veterans, we can find solace and inspiration in the fine art photography that captures the essence of their service and sacrifice at Dayton National Cemetery.
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