In last month's blog, I described my photography gear. For this month's blog, I'll review my cameras and accessories. First, the camera; I bought the SLR Nikon D 500 last year. I've only used it a few times. The camera I had for so long is the Nikon D 300. Why the change? The camera was old and needed to be upgraded. I've had it for over a decade. Some of the features of this new camera are amazing.
Here is my primary camera gear.
The most significant advancement in this camera is the significantly high sensitivity of the image sensor (ISO). Previously, I couldn't photograph high school night events with my long lens because the ISO couldn't go high enough. I can now set my ISO to 51,200. To put that in perspective, during film days, the highest ISO would be around 1,000! Game changer.
As a backup, I have the Panasonic/Lumix Mirrorless DMC-GF6 with a 14-42 mm lens. Because of this camera, I have some videos on my website.
I've had all my lenses for over a decade, and they work perfectly. My primary reenactment lens is the Nikon 80-400 4.5-5.6 VR. You'll see on the lens hood (decal from sutler-Ron Mehalko of Revolution Wear) my photo interest! About 75% of the photos on my website are from this lens. I can handhold it because of the VR feature, and I can zoom in close, very close. This photo is a perfect example.
Only because of my lens could I have taken this shot. Another reason is that my camera has a crop sensor that magnifies the lens more. In blog # 24, I described what this means
My Nikon DSLR (interchangeable lens) camera has a smaller crop sensor. It sees a narrower field of view. The good news is this smaller sensor magnifies my lenses by 1.5 times! Now my 80-400 mm lens becomes a 120-600mm. Also, to gain even more distance, I added a 1.4 converter which extends the lens even further. Now it's comparable to an 840mm. Why is this significant? The average eyes see around 50mm!
I'm using my Nikon 24-85 2.8-4 lens more now because of photographing camp life. When I first arrive at a reenactment, I go to the campsites. I can capture many interesting photos early in the morning like, this one from Mt Harmon 2019.
The lens I use less often is the ultra-wide 11-18 mm 4.5-5.6 Tamron lens and the fixed focal Nikon 50 mm 1.8 lens. For the wide-angle lens, I use it when I want a broader perspective of the reenactment site. This photo from Return to the Hook 20213 in VA shows that. This event has been one of the most incredible reenactments I've attended. On the first day, a full-scale replica cabin was created. And later, on the last day it was burned to the ground. I was able to photograph from a tower, there were 2 of them, about 30-40 feet high. The vantage point for the reenactments was spectacular. I have no other photos similar to the one here.
I don't use the 50mm lens at reenactments often. I'll use it when roaming the Continental & British camps. To get good photos with this lens, you have to work the shot, move around and shoot from different perspectives. But that's what I want to do to get an excellent photo. Here's an example of that sharp lens from this photo from Battle of Germantown 2012.
I bring my Nikon Speedlight SB 900 flash only occasionally. If I know there will be finite natural light, such as inside buildings/cabins, then I will. Without the flash, I couldn't take this cabin photo of reenactors at Valley Forge 2017.
Thank you for reading. Blog # 41 will be posted in November 2021. Be safe & well and please get vaccinated!
At the end of last month's blog, I mentioned having cataract surgery in both eyes. My surgeries went perfectly! The clarity and vibrancy of the colors I see now are spectacular. I learned that cataract surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States.
I'm able to capture some unique photos because of my photography gear and equipment. This photo of me from a photo friend is a perfect example. I'm getting ready to photograph something special at a Washington Crossing event. For this month's blog, I thought it would be fun to focus on my gear. Next month, I'll discuss my cameras, lens, and accessories.
When attending reenactment events, I always try to have 4 items. I'm always wearing a hat, most often my Ft Ticonderoga baseball cap. I bought it many years ago when I was still shooting film! It looks good, feels comfortable, and it shows my interest in the landmark fort. Another item I usually wear is a photo vest.
I get asked all the time where I bought mine. Over twenty years ago, my mom bought it for me as a birthday gift. She's deceased now, so I think of her every time I wear it!
The company, Domke, stopped making them? I wonder why? The vest holds a lot of stuff, so much that sometimes I forget what pocket (10 of them) I placed something. I'm constantly patting myself to find something, usually my car keys. It's now starting to fray, but I'll always keep it. One item I always carry in the vest, knee pads.
I purchased them at Home Depot for around $15. By being low allows me different angles and perspectives. This house photo from the reenactment event I photographed a few years ago, at Locust Grove in Louisville, KY is a perfect example. It's more prominent by me being crouched and shooting upwards. My last item is my footwear, always hiking shoes. Or what my young son refers to as my photo shoes.
For foot stability, I won't attend an event without them, even during the summer. A funny situation happened at the reenactment wedding two years ago. While photographing the campsites, my left shoe disintegrated, just fell apart. I had no choice that day. On came my sneakers. Quite weird!
At every event, I'll have a camera backpack bag on my back. Here is my batch, and I have many. All are the same brand, Tamrac. Why? Not sure. They are all sturdy, reliable bags at an excellent price.
I use a rain cover from Aqua-Tech Sports Shield to protect my camera/lens in the rain or snow. It can be hard to attach, but it is the best & most reliable way to keep my equipment safe from the elements. I needed this protection from the snow/ice/wind in the photo below during a heavy snowstorm at Valley Forge National Historical Park, PA.
When it's cold and snowing, I'll wear my NY Islanders knit cap instead of my Ft. Ticonderoga baseball cap to keep my head warm. You now know my hockey team and where I'm originally from! Go Islanders.
Thank you for reading. Blog # 40 will be posted in October 2021. Be safe & well and get vaccinated!
It's always fun attending a Revolutionary War event for the first time. This one, this past May, was the Revolutionary War Weekend reenactment in Jacobsburg, PA. I learned about it from my photo friend, who keeps me updated on upcoming events. Felt great being healthy and vaccinated, so I was excited about my new road trip. I planned my trip and calculated it would take me about 1 1/2 hours to travel from my home in the Philly suburbs to NE rural PA. To arrive early, I left around 6:30 am. It was a pleasant, cloudy, hot day. When I enter any new event, I like to stroll first to get the lay of the land. Near the parking lot was the sutler's area (vendors), and nearby was the American camp. Across the field were the British.
Soon after arriving, I found 2 of my photo friends. We gabbed for a few minutes on how we were and that we haven't seen each other in over a year! Walking around the grounds, I found some interesting subjects to photograph, like this birdhouse.
I'm always trying to photograph something unique. When walking around the American camp, I spotted this empty plate/cup on top of this block of straw. Nice photo, something different.
The reenactments are usually the highlight of the day. I strive to get at least two original photos each time. Most times, I meet that goal.
In this photo, the blurred background makes this Native Warrior stand out. The key was being close to my subject. Also, like almost all my photos, it was hand-held.
After the reenactment, I toured the John Joseph Henry House, an 1832 mansion. "Five generations of the Henry family lived in the home, filling it with musical instruments, books, tools, paintings, furniture, and numerous other personal belongings."
Across the street from the house is the Pennsylvania Longrifle museum. Included in the collection were numerous vintage muskets & powder horns. "The Pennsylvania Longrifle Museum features more than 100 historic arms on either permanent display or in rotating, topical exhibits. Displays feature Henry firearms dating from the American Fur Trade, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the American West, and the early twentieth century. Most of the firearms were made by the Henrys of Boulton..." The guides in the museum were knowledgeable about answering my questions.
After visiting the museum, I went across the parking lot to the British camp to shoot some more. I wasn't feeling well; my eyes were bothering me. They had been more a few months. A few weeks after this reenactment, I had an eye exam. Guess what I learned? I need cataracts surgery not just in one eye but both. Whew! My photo friend had said this! I'm scheduled for surgery, in both eyes, this month. I can't wait to see clearly again!
CLICK HERE TO VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
Thank you for reading. Blog # 39 will be posted in September 2021. Be safe & well!
In last month's blog, I reviewed Mt Vernon's Revolutionary War weekend reenactment and camp life. Always a fun event! In this month's blog, I'll discuss some of the extensive (around 500 acres today) mansion grounds. I didn't tour the house this time because of the large crowd and day's activities.
Below is a photo from the back of the mansion. Do you notice the size of visitors in this photo compared to the immense size of Washington's home? It provides a good perspective on how big it is.
Here is a photo of the Potomac River that I took from sitting in a porch chair. Can you imagine having this view every morning?
From this photo of the columns on the northern side of the mansion to the kitchen, I learned a new word, colonnade. I had asked myself, what were the columns called? It means "a series of columns set at regular intervals and usually supporting the base of a roof structure." Architecturally this plantation is magnificent.
In the early afternoon, I took the bus shuttle to the wharf. First saw crops in the fields, sheep grazing, and this 16-sided barn, Washington's design. He created this new concept for more efficient grain processing and storage. Across from the barn is a replica slave cabin. We mustn't ever forget that this plantation was built and sustained on slave labor!!
All of the founding fathers from southern states had and depended on slave labor, including Washington. Did you know that later abolitionist Benjamin Franklin had household slaves around the 1740s? The repercussions of not resolving this evil in the 1770s still resonate today? At least now it's being discussed and addressed at historical sites like here.
The greatest failure in our nation's founding was not resolving the slavery issue. The southern representatives during the 2nd Continental Congress meeting in 1775 wouldn't follow Thomas Jefferson's words in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal. Simply it was all based on economics. All of the founders knew this issue would haunt this country until resolved. And it has to this day!!
The many gardens at Mt Vernon is a must-see. This one is adjacent to the mansion.
Near the end of my day, I visited Washington's tomb. Yes, he and Martha & plus 23 other family members, are buried here. All the visitors I noticed showed respect and decorum around the tomb area.CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY!
Can't wait to visit again. Did you know that Mt Vernon is open 365 days?
Thank you for reading. Blog # 38 will be posted in August 2021. Be safe & well!
For the first time in over a year, I attended an American Revolution reenactment. It was the Revolutionary War weekend at George Washington's Mt Vernon on May 1. It was a great day! In this month's blog, I'll focus on the reenactment. Next month, I'll discuss exploring the Mt Vernon grounds.
I've attended this event back in 2017 and 2018. The other two times, I went both days. But, this year it was a one-day trip. I left my home at 6 am and arrived at Mt Vernon at around 9 am. The trip took longer because of the ongoing construction in Baltimore and Washington DC. I learned a few days ago that I received a $200 DC camera speeding ticket. Ouch!
Luckily, I arrived early to secure a parking space. Although the website claimed there would be limited attendees, it was still crowded. It took about 45 minutes to enter the grounds because of security and COVID safeguards. Here's is a photo of everyone waiting to get in.
Once you enter the grounds, you're in the museum that you should visit. You will learn so much about George Washington's life and legacy. From the museum, I proceeded to the mansion.
As you enter the mansion grounds, you see the house. It is two and a half stories with a cellar, almost 11,000 square feet. That is a big home.
My first stop was the 12-acre field for the dragoons demonstration. I missed George Washington addressing the troops because of entering late.
At every event, my goal is to capture 1-2 unique, memorable images. Most times I achieve my goal. Below is one for sure! Yes, I've captured many cannon blasts before. But, the orange color saturation in this photo is incredible. I must have caught it at its peak color. My photo pal commented on the saturation too. Here is his latest photo of me. Mask on!
What I enjoy now more than the reenactments is visiting the camps. It's a great opportunity to chap with folks and observe camp life. Also, a wonderful time to create new photos.
The reenactments at these events are the main attraction. The spectators always enjoy them. They're loud with the smoke and noise from cannons and volleys of muskets in unison. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERY!
Thank you for reading. Blog # 37 will be posted in July 2021. Be safe & well!