So I am looking for some ideas on what people have built or think would look good.
Our graveyard is lit the same way as yours. Most lighting for the background is hidden by tombstones in the foreground. Here are a few of the options we used to light the front tombstones over the years, starting with the most primitive, and working our way up to the more complex.
1. LED pucks
. Before there were LEDs, there were incandescent bulbs, but since they're really dinosaurs, everything we did with them to light our graveyard is pretty much obsolete. The thing that replaced our big silver utility clamps were palm sized LED puck lights.
These pucks were white LEDs, but we pried the pucks apart and colored the lens covers with various colored permanent markers. They were easily hid, easily placed, and did pretty much what you mentioned about lighting the epitaphs of the front line of tombstones. The downside was that they had to be turned on and off by hand. For those of us who live in rainy areas, it's not much fun to turn on and off 30 lights every night. Also, if you turned them on every night, the batteries had to be replaced a couple of times during the month.
2. Dollar Tree tea-lights and pillar candles.
Sometimes a part of showcasing the front line tombstones was lighting them with candles or other LED lights.
It actually requires quite a few candles to illuminate a tombstone, but it is very atmospheric. We're not alone with using that approach, but many including us, use them more as a prop than a lighting source. Mr. Toad's tombstone for example had green flickering candle light. It was a whole Wind in the Willows
sliding into Will-o'-the-wisp
that lead to his tombstone being lit with a green glow. But the two candles that are a part of his tombstone had to be augmented with a green colored puck light to make it readable. The Pokeman tombstone was much more traditionally lit, but the kids had fun leaning over to read the words in candlelight. It lead to interesting lighting and shadows, but again, each had to be turned on and off every night. We also had to deal with battery replacement.
3. 10 Watt LED spots and Eagle Eye LEDs
. This was our approach for this year.
The 10 Watt LED Spots were purchased as RGB models allowing us to use whatever color we wanted. At about 3X5 inches, they're harder to hide than the pucks, but they also gave off a great deal more light. Whole sections of yard or walls could be lit up by one. Mixing them up throughout the haunt gave areas plenty of light, including spill over onto the front tombstones. They're what's lighting the mausoleum wall the cauldron creep is standing under. And it's actually one of those lights that is lighting up the "I Told You I Was Sick" tombstone. However, because of their size, only one was actually used out in front of the first tier tombstones. The rest were hidden by those tombstones.
The Erma Gerd tombstone is lit by an Eagle Eye LED. They're used in car lighting and are extremely small, but put out a good amount of light. We're having fun adapting them to the haunt. At under two dollars apiece and a few under a dollar, we see a bright future for these little lights. We only tried one last year, but thanks to advice we got on this site, we're going to roll out a great number of them this year. They make for great mini spot lights, are listed as waterproof, and cast some really fun shadows against large backdrops. We'll use the 10 Watt spots and eagle eyes to light up our tree and the skeleton hanging in it. The eagle eyes come in many different colors if your haunt needs a bit of color to satisfy you.
We'll also be using waterproof LED pucks and lights for a tombstone/fountain this year. We're hoping it works, but time will tell. The LED spots and eagle eyes are great because we can put them on a timer and never have to worry about stepping out into the rain to get the yard lit. There is the downside to having cords all over the place, but we have tons of leaves to hide such things.
So, that's where we've been and where we're heading. Hope it gives you a few ideas. We certainly know most of ours came from looking at other haunts here at the forum and elsewhere. Good luck. Take lots of pictures and post the results.