Civil War Battle Reenactment : Battle of Big Bethel

Discussion in 'Street, Documentary, and Portrait' started by faithblinded, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    I had the privilege of attending a reenactment yesterday, held at a historical farmstead and village near me. It was my first time attending such an event, and I believe I came away with some of the best event coverage I've ever done. These folks are very serious about authenticity, and it shows.
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    As you can see, it was a pretty cool affair. The charges they use in the cannons are no joke. They shake the earth, and spit fire, despite having no cannonball to propel.

    Let me just roll back a bit and start at the beginning. The reenactors show up and set up a traditional civil war camp, with authentic tents, cots, camp kitchens, and everything else that goes along with it. Throughout the course of the day, there are various events that showcase the talents of these folks. That includes cavalry demonstrations, renditions from the drum and fife corp, lectures on civil war medicine, and other opportunities to learn and explore. You can also simply walk around the encampment, and chat to the folks, and view their incredible gear. I spent most of the day just walking around, shooting candid portraits, and environmental shots. I kept civilians and modern ephemera out of my images as much as possible, to give the air of authenticity. It rained all day, and I tried to use that to my advantage wherever possible, using slower shutter speeds to capture it with my subjects.

    This lad was catching some cover from the rain under this tree, and fooling around with a saber.
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    The women folk hem and haw over the affairs of the day:
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    This broom maker was lost in thought, as his daughter spoke to some attendees about their craft. Not posed.
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    This gent was enjoying a morning cuppa. I crouched down low on the ground, so we could get a look at him through his period correct camp kitchen. Check out his coffee pot, dutch oven, frying pan, and toaster. Cool beans(regular fair in a kitchen like this).
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    These men have some of the finest horses I've ever laid eyes on. I grew up around working farm horses, these were a cut above that. I was having so much fun shooting portraits, I missed the cavalry demonstration, and only caught them as they were wrapping up.
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    Even in the rain, the E-M1 and 40-150 PRO have no problem C-AF on a man/horse sized target. This was one of a series of images as he rode up, all tack sharp.
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    Some things never change. These old fellas were watching some younger lads do their jobs, and discussing all the ways in which they were doing it wrong:
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    All that reenacting is tired work. This tree made a great resting spot. Moments after I got this shot, the area crowded with civilians to see the drum and fife corp. I got the shot just in time.
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    And the aforementioned Drum and Fife Corp. They demonstrated a number of battle rhythms and songs, and gave a very nice showing of it.
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    It was growing closer to battle time, and many units were lining up at the edge of the field, doing inspections, and getting ready for action.
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    I managed to snag all these right before the battle, as the adrenaline began to enter their systems:
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    Next post will hold the battle images....
     
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  2. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    Now the men are moving into position on both sides of the battlefield. I was positioned on the confederate side, as I find their rag tag mismatched home spun uniforms more interesting than the monotony of the Union Blue. I also had better position to shoot a firing cannon from the confederate side. The forces met in a large pasture, and the spectators watched from a fence row alongside the pasture.
    A commander leads his men into position on the field. War doesn't stop for rain.
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    In the distance, cavalry meet in the center of the field of battle, and the skirmish begins.
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    Fire cannons!
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    The Union battle line, hazy in the rain, and the fog of cannon fire.
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    A determined young soldier strides across the field, surveying the carnage, as a line of muskets fire behind him.
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    Those boys in blue are getting closer, better fall back...
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    Muskets keep firing!
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    No simple reloads here. Shoot one ball, then bite off a fresh pack of powder and dump it into your barrel, followed by a wad and a musket ball. Pack. Repeat.
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    That's about it for shots of the battle. Much of the happenings were in poor position to get photos, unless I jogged up and down the fence row, in the mud and rain. No one would have liked that. I'll include one more shot, lovely and historically interesting. Much as we were out to watch this reenactment, locals in areas where battles of the Civil War took place, often spectated from nearby, as friends and family put their lives on the line. The reenactors make sure to honor that tradition as well. Many of the women and children come out of the encampment to watch the battle from the sidelines, in traditional folding chairs, with umbrellas and kerchiefs ready. Imagine this young woman might be watching a husband, brother, father, or uncle, about to possibly meet his death. Humans are strange creatures...
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  3. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    Excellent work! I was a civil war nut as a preteen/teen nerd :D This reminds me of the reenactments my family went to, some of the best times as a kid were definitely when those cannons fired and the concussive shockwave sent all the car alarms into a frenzy in the nearby parking lot!

    These are very well done, initially I was surprised at the black and white treatment since all of my memories are, well, in color. But upon further thought I really like it, I'd be interested to see you do a more period tintype take with some heavier processing. I know On1 Effects has some good frame looks and damage simulators that might put a great spin on these!
     
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  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I always love these events. I grew up just outside of Gettysburg and my father is a history buff. I never had a chance to not like it. Lol.

    I shoot these events for pay and when not working them, shoot for fun.

    You've captured some great moments here. Thanks for sharing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2016
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  5. dogs100

    dogs100 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    966
    Nov 12, 2011
    N Devon UK
    Geoff
    I really enjoyed these ... thanks! I know it is anal of me but I always check for things like wrist watches and earrings on men in these sort of scenes, and there weren't any that I could see.

    Geoff
     
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  6. Holoholo55

    Holoholo55 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 13, 2014
    Honolulu, HI
    Walter
    Hope the reload really doesn't include the Minie ball. That would cut down the number of re-enactors pretty quick!

    Jus' kidding. :)

    I read all the Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell and thought that being a re-enactor for the Napoleonic War would be a lot of fun. I had the opportunity to shoot a black powder musket and a rifle at one of the National Hunting and Fishing Day celebrations at a local gun range. It's true that you can't even tell if you hit your target because all the smoke completely obscures your view. I could hear it hit, though I couldn't see it.
     
  7. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    @faithblinded@faithblinded Great series of shots and the rain really does add to them.
     
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  8. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    When I started hunting with a muzzleloader that was the hardest thing to get use to, not knowing if I missed or hit my target and which way it ran.
     
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  9. lchien

    lchien Mu-43 Regular

    98
    Aug 7, 2014
    Texas
    Your civil war pictures are too good!
    Add some vignetting, some sepia tone and some softness and we might believe you were there in 1864!
     
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  10. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    Thanks, this was my first event, and certainly won't be my last. I'm not really much for filters or effects, beyond basic processing and conversion to b&w. I'll save the fanciness til I start printing. Thanks for lookin'!

    Thanks Gryph. I spent a good part of my childhood in southern PA, so Gettysburg was a regular trip. If I'm honest, I didn't appreciate as I should of. I need to go back now that I can fully understand what I'm seeing. I'm going to be shooting more of these for sure, and I could see some of the images making me money once I start printing.

    Thanks Geoff. The reenactors really are incredible. I'm pretty sure they are their own worst critics, so in that sense they do a great job of self policing non authentic items and behaviors. It makes it easy to get shots that look real. You just have to work to keep spectators out of your field of view.

    I've fired alot of weapons, but never a musket, or anything that uses black powder. Some day, I'll tick that box.

    Thanks man. It was a soaked day for me, but I hardly noticed. The rain was probably my best ally, in terms of atmos, and making for lighter crowds, and less work keeping them out of my pics.

    Thanks Ichien. I may do some tintype style prints with some of these. I'm considering purchasing a printer soon. I'll share the results here, when I do.
     
  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    The re-enactments in July at Gettysburg are great. When you are younger, there is a lot that you take for granted or don't appreciate as much as you should. The good thing is that you can return and make up for it! :D
     
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  12. bjurasz

    bjurasz Mu-43 Regular

    127
    Dec 10, 2014
    Cedar Park
    Excellent! In camera b&w and converted afterwards?
     
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  13. bjurasz

    bjurasz Mu-43 Regular

    127
    Dec 10, 2014
    Cedar Park
    I'll just add I really like B&W and I need to shoot like that more often. As an old racing client of mine said once when I gave him a B&W conversion of one of his pics, taking away the color really makes you focus on the detail, on the emotion, on the content of the image. And I see that all over these images as well. Not just that its "period correct" to be B&W, it adds a nice touch all on its own. Nicely done again.
     
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  14. Dragos101

    Dragos101 Mu-43 Regular

    68
    May 1, 2015
    Bucharest, Romania
    Dragos
    Love the photos, the B&W processing is really good! How was it done?
     
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  15. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    Thanks Dragos. These were all converted to B&W in Lightroom. After clicking B&W, I do basic exposure adjustment, and fine tune color channels if necessary, to maintain contrast in the details.
     
  16. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Excellent set. I like how you caught the sparks of the canon blast in the first shot.
     
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  17. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Another comment. High contrast is popular now for street work. This is great example of a the other approach with subtle tonal differences. B& W works both ways.
     
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  18. faithblinded

    faithblinded Mu-43 Top Veteran

    929
    Nov 25, 2014
    Cleveland, OH
    Ken
    Thanks Steve. I generally don't go much for high contrast with my work, or really, anything involving a filtered or preset look. I make a choice to be more "documentarian" than "fine art" photographer, with regards to my processing. This choice doesn't help me in the thumbnail wars of social media, but I feel it will serve me better in the long run, particularly when I begin to print my work LARGE.