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The US Civil War ended slavery, established Federal primacy, introduced the world to exploding artillery, and when people relive it, provides a wonderful photo opportunity.

Here at Willamette Mission State Park on a weekend near Independence Day the Northwest Civil War Council  has been hosting a reenactment for quite a few years. I used to consider such things to not be very interesting, but as my photo career has led me to more things of historical interest, I thought it was time to go.

The first surprise upon arriving was that it was much larger than anticipated. There were hundreds of reenactors, perhaps approaching 1000. Another surprise was the age range. There were infants there, but can you really say they are participating? However, the ages did begin at the earliest you could say they were willfully participating right up to seniors.

Well let’s get to the shooting. There were plenty of opportunities for action photography and I of course capitalized upon them. However, I thought the photos showing daily life of military personnel at the time or civilians were more interesting. I photographed a lot of this. A couple things that I wanted for sure, were images that were as believable in the time period as possible, secondly, I had no hope of getting model releases from everyone and wanted to keep the images as usable as possible. To deal with the first issue, I watch every part of the image as carefully as possible watching for anachronistic elements, eliminating them where possible. For the second issue, I tried to frame images so the people were not recognizable, where this failed I can only license the images for editorial, educational, or fine art use.

For post processing, most of the images were done simply in Lightroom. I boosted contrast to around +20, clarity to around +20 and saturation was reduced to around -18, other sliders were tweaked as necessary.

Now I’m trying to arrange some portraits of a reenactor of either the Civil War, War of 1812 or Revolutionary War. Know anyone willing to do it TFP?

Take a closer look at my Civil War Gallery. Take a look at all my photos from the reenactment.