The guy behind the lens

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Reliving the Civil War through Digital Photography (Part 2)

In an earlier post, I shared my new found interest in shooting Civil War reenactments. It originated from seeing the results of my first shots  from a small "skirmish" and realizing that I did not care for the impression of the color photographs which (to me) appeared totally unrealistic due to their color. Simply converting them to black & white was not the answer. When I did that I t was an improvement, but a minor one. The real secret to my happiness and contentment in this area was when I realized that these images needed to have texture and feel of the original photos from the 1860's. 


    The "Mayor" of Port Jefferson           Ladies of the town discussing the impending hostilities

(Click on any of these images to see a high resolution version)

This is when the digital tinkerer in me got to work --- I started plating with different ways of dodging & burning the black & white images as well as adding various textures and layers to create a look that added authenticity to each shot. I quickly learned there were several ways in which I could get pleasing results depending on the nature of the original subject.


                 SARGE                                  Looking Ahead
Interspersed throughout this post are images I created during the 2012 Battle of Port Jefferson in the town of Jefferson, Texas. Strictly speaking, this event is not a reenactment  because this battle never actually occurred. Rather it is an "enactment" of a battle of the Red River Campaign that might have occurred had the Civil War lasted longer. As the town of Jefferson was then an inland port for the loading of cotton from Dallas and East Texas, it was an obvious target for the Union forces as they would have tried to place a stranglehold on the movement of good and thus money in this region. 

Marching as to War 

                                        Marching as to War                            Occupation

While the entire event spans the first weekend in May,The actual "Battle" consists of two parts. In the morning there is a skirmish between opposing forces along Austin St. The great part of this is that spectators get to line the street and be up close with the action! 

The Breastworks 
The Breastworks                               Snipers

The main part of the "battle" occurs outside of town on a ranch and includes a full range of troops and artillery. For this battle they rig up explosive charges in the ground to simulate cannonball impacts. The cavalry are there as well as hundreds of infantry. 


Giving Orders                               Call to Battle

As this is the largest Civil War gathering in Texas, it is truly impressive. As a civilian, you are encouraged to visit the military encampments the soldiers set up as their bases around town. The reenactors take great care to recreate life in these camps just as it was in the 1860's. 

If you live within a day's drive of East Texas, I'd recommend making a weekend of it and visiting Jefferson, TX  during the next Battle! It is a great living history lesson and also a great chance to get to explore a fun Texas town. 

The best way to get updated information about this year's Battle is to visit the Marion County Chamber of Commerce website.

In my next post , more images from the afternoon Battle! 


Kay L. Davies said...

You've done a great job of these, John. They do look good, and I like your captions.

Toad Hollow Photography said...

This is totally splendiferous! What a great way to come along to such a great event with you, John. Great photography, perfectly and carefully processed my friend!

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