To write my monthly blogs, I've had the opportunity to review many photo galleries. It's been fun reminiscing on when and how I took all these photos. One photo technique I've been somewhat neglecting the last few years is motion-blur photos. This procedure is created by either moving the camera at a slow shutter speed side to side or a program I use On1 Software. It has a radial blur filter, a photo technique that produces a directional blur. I chose my favorite 10 to review for this blog and next month. They're not ranked.
Reenactments educate and entertain spectators. Of course, they don't show the horrors and brutality of real American Revolution battles. Photography didn't exist yet! This photo from the Battle at Chadds Ford in 2021 reminded me of the great war WWII photographers. Two preeminent ones were Joe Rosenthal (flag raising at Imo Jima) and Robert Capa. You have seen their photos before.
When I finished processing this photo with the radial blur filter, it felt painfully realistic; so many soldiers in the American Revolution died in this horrific way. What do you think of it?
This photo is from the Battle of Monmouth in 2009. I have many excellent photos taken that day! To achieve this motion effect, I moved the camera back and forth slowly. This photo shows constant movement in all directions. My eyes are wandering everywhere-one of my favorite images.
This photo is from the Battle of Germantown in 2010 with the continentals charging the Chew House. I converted it to B&W and used the technique of selective color, only coloring particular objects in the photo. The movement of the soldiers here is perfect. It's not easy to time the panning at just the right speed.
Here is another Battle of Germantown in 2012 photo of soldiers storming the Chew House. I used a radial filter in post-processing to produce this moving effect and reduced the filter amount on the charging soldiers near the steps.
This photo was from Mt Harmon in 2011. I remember vividly walking the grounds, and suddenly, these galloping dragoons rode directly towards me over a modest hill. Quickly, I knew this would make a fantastic panning photo! So, instead of moving the camera back and forth horizontally, I moved my 80-400 Nikon VR lens vertically, extending slowly to attain this effect.
Thank you for reading! Blog # 48 will be posted in June 2022. Be safe & well!
One of the joys of photographing American Revolution reenactments is meeting spectators, event staff, photographers, vendors, and most especially reenactors, AKA Living Historians. I've known Noah-Ned Hector for many years. Besides being a reenactor, he is an educator. He is a dynamic speaker that keeps his audiences engaged and entertained. This paragraph from his website states his mission.
"I am blessed to have the opportunity to continue with this tribute, and to aid in helping others to appreciate the contribution we Black people made to the freedom of all Americans. There is a part of me that hopes the souls of these amazing contributors to our freedom will rest more peaceful by giving them the honor they were denied for so many years."
Noah and I speak at many reenactment events. Because of his background, I knew he would make a great interview. I asked him, and he immediately said yes.
1) From your website www.nedhector.com, I learned you were born in Germany. Do you have any memories of that time?
Unfortunately not, I was 10 months old when our family returned to the America.
2) When did you relocate to the Philadelphia region?
We were living at Ft. Knox, KY when Dad decided to retire in 1965. We moved from there to Philadelphia. Afterwards, in 1966, we moved to Aldan in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
3) Your college degree is in biology? Have you always been interested in history too?
No. My interest in history came with my research in genealogy.
4) In your professional career, you were first a Bio-Medical Technician. Then you owned a small business. Did you ever believe your livelihood would eventually be presenting living history?
Absolutely not! In school I’m not what anybody would have described as a scholar. In high school I was still being given speech therapy. The thought of talking publicly frightened me. Although I was not a discipline problem, I just really struggled in my academic classes. The last two years of high school I went to vo-tech for a half day. I remember when I graduated I went to my guidance counselor to let her know I was going to college. She said to me,”Oh no! don’t do that. I don’t think you will be able to make it.” The shame about it is, knowing my grades, I could understand why she would say something like that. I never saw my future where I would be talking to large audiences, writing scholarly research papers, and doing heavy duty historical research. I guess you never know where God will to lead you.
5) You stated it all started when presenting to your daughter’s fourth-grade class on biology over twenty-five years ago. And by chance, the teacher asked if you could also teach on Colonial America. Do you view that incident today as fate?
Well, I never saw it coming. I don’t know if I would say fate. I believe there is another source that guides our lives. During the time when my daughter’s fourth grade class was happening I was also doing geological research on my family. I managed to get back to 1800 on my dad’s side. I hit a brick wall and couldn’t get back any further. I started thinking, well, 1800 isn’t that far from the American Revolution. Maybe I might find something there. I didn’t. But I started learning a lot of things about Black colonial people. To appreciate what I am going to say, you have to know that what I thought about black colonial people were. I believed that they all were slaves, that they all were poor, and if they were in the military they were nothing but manual laborers. If this was true I really didn’t have any interest in Black history during this period.
6) How did you learn about the patriot Ned Hector, the soldier you portray?
During my research, I came across a book written by Charles Blockson called Black Genealogy. In this book, I learned about a man named Edward Hector. He was a bombardier and the teamster with Proctor’s Third Pennsylvania Artillery. He was nothing like what I thought colonial blacks were. He was a free man. He was with an elite fighting unit, the artillery. He was a soldier that fought in the Battle of Brandywine and Germantown. In the Battle of Brandywine he was noted for his heroic actions to save his wagon, horses, and armaments in the face of a British charge. And this was after he had been ordered to retreat and abandoned them. He was one of the first Black people to live in Conshohocken. He was so well regarded in his home community of Conshohocken that 16 years after his death, the people in this newly formed town in 1850, petitioned to name a street after him. I don’t know too many things named after Black people around 1850.
7) Have you changed your presentations/talks because of the recent civil unrest & racial inequality incidents?
Good question! Through the years, I’ve started noticing that people seem to think of American history as their history and our history. I thought to myself that can’t be right. Whatever history it is, it is our history! We African-Americans tend to think of America’s multi-ethnic history as part of our history. In the same way, a non-African-Americans should embrace African American history as part of their. It’s not those peoples history, it is our history. Another thing that bothered me is although our culture is multi-ethnic, we really don’t tell about the Germans, Irish, Polish, women, Jews, Scottish, and so many other subgroups that make us Americans. So as I can I try to talk about other groups.
8) Besides presenting in schools and at reenactments, how else do you educate folks on the American Revolution and Ned Hector?
I write articles for historical publications. I have found many of the historical sites, like Cliveden, Washington’s Crossing, Chadds Ford, have been open to including articles in their program books when they have a reenactments. Also many of the historical sites have made efforts to put up permanent displays that talk about the African-American like, the Museum of American Revolution, the National African American Museum in Washington DC, Valley Forge National Park, so it can be seen all year around. I appreciate institutions like this magazine that allows me to share the story with their readers. From time to time I am in videos, and TV broadcast. I was allowed to be in the video for the visitor center at the Valley Forge National Park and Washington’s Crossing. I feel all of these are important because they are helping all of us Americans to understand our history.
9) What do you hope adults and especially children will learn from speaking with you about Black soldiers in Colonial America?
I am hoping that our children will be a lot less ignorant than we were about our history. I am hoping we black people will realize what a significant contribution we played in the founding of this country. I am hoping that the nonblack ethnic groups will understand.
10) Is there a question I should have asked?
What is it you hope to achieve by doing Ned Hector? First, I hope to bring honor to a group of Americans that whose history was buried and ignored, who deserved our countries gratitude.
Secondly, I hope to instill in my fellow African Americans a sense of pride for knowing we African Americans were not only the poor, or enslaved, or just manual laborer. But African Americans made a significant contribution to this country becoming independent.
Thirdly, I hope to bring awareness to all Americans that African American history is American history and should be embraced by all Americans, because their actions helped us all to be free.
Lastly, with this awareness I hope we will come to appreciate each other the way that we should.
Thank you for reading and Noah-Ned Hector for a great interview! Blog # 46 will be posted in May 2022. Be safe & well!
In last month's blog, I reviewed 5 photos you wouldn't know were taken at an American Revolution reenactment. And this month, I'll discuss my other 5 favorites. These aren't ranked.
I seem to like tin cups? Why, it's a simple subject and always seems to catch my attention. I have a few similar photos and, this is the best. I zoomed in very tight and used ON1 photography software to give it an antique look. What do you think?
Can you guess where this picture is? Hint, I've photographed reenactment events here and, it's one of the most magnificent homes in America.
In the distance, I noticed sheep grazing with a small shed framed between a bevy of trees, a storage shed, with a bright puffy blue sky. It is the perfect setting and a wonderful photo.
This one I took in 2014 at the Battle of Brandywine is just funny. It puts a smile on my face every time I see it.
When reviewing all my photo event galleries, I noticed having many excellent horse photos. Why? I have no idea? I've only ridden a horse a few times. And to be honest, I don't want to ride one again. But, they make great subjects.
Do you have any idea where I took this photo? Probably not. I took it in 2016 at Ft Mifflin in Philadelphia. The fort has many underground tunnels. Under the flag pole is this tunnel. At it's entrance, I noticed the sunlight shining brightly. Immediately, I went down to one knee and took a few shots. This one is the best. I knew this would look great in B&W.
Another photo that makes me smile is from the Battle of Short Hills in 2017. This small dog was walking his reenactor owner. His ebullient expression makes this a great photo. After asking to take his picture, I sat on the ground to get on his level. Look closely, and you can see the catchlight (a light source reflected off the surface of the eye) image of me. Photos like this I never forget taking!
Thank you for reading. Blog # 46 will be posted in April 2022. Be safe & well!
Photographing American Revolution Reenactments is fun. There are so many photography opportunities to explore at every event. None are the same. Sure, almost all have reenactment battles with numerous mass volley fire and cannon booms but, there is so much more. Visiting the British and American camps also has fantastic photo opportunities. But, now I search for more possibilities.
I examined my numerous photo galleries on this website, over 7,800 photos, and selected my favorite ten non-reenactment photos. Many of them I haven't seen in years.
I have numerous examples of horse photos. These two are my favorites. The first one was from the Battle of Brandywine in 2014. Sometimes, you get lucky. I noticed these horses moving their heads up and down in unison. To me, it appears like an optical illusion! Keep staring; you'll see it.
This other horse photo is just beautiful; taken at Mt Harmon in 2016. The light here is perfect. The horse glows. What a magical time of the day it was. The definition of photography is drawing with light. I did that here.
I took this marsh grass photo below taken at Ft. Mifflin in 2019 appears to me to be both an abstract and landscape photo together. It was fun to create.
My shutter speed was set very slow, at 1/5 second while panning from side to side. I took many shots that day and, this one was the best. I also converted another similar photo to b&w. That one looks good too.
This photo brings back memories. It was taken at the annual Washington's Crossing event on Christmas in 2014. I was standing in the middle of the Washington's Crossing Bridge waiting for the Durham boats to cross the Delaware River from PA to NJ. It was cold, very cold that day with the wind blowing steadily. While waiting, I noticed the sun lighting up the trees further down the river. With the thick, puffy clouds I knew this would make a great photo. The hardest part was staying motionless. I did it.
A great photo opportunity always is a blacksmith demonstration. This photo shows a blacksmith from Ft. Mifflin in 2019. The blacksmith shop was in a small building at the back of the fort. I knew watching the blacksmith working on the anvil would make a great photo. My first thought was the appearance of making the hammer move. The building light wasn't good, so I set my ISO to 3200. To create motion, I moved my shutter speed to 1/80 of a second. That's moderately slow.
Thank you for reading. Blog # 45 will be posted in March 2022. Be safe & well!
In blog # 19 (January 2020), I started a new, hopefully, recurring ritual. I recapped my American Revolution reenactment calendar year. My goal was to review my reenactment photography every January. But, because of COVID, this wasn't possible in 2020. There were no reenactments. Thankfully, because the pandemic had eased steadily, more events were held in 2021. Yeah! So for this blog, I'll recap my 2021 reenactment season. And, I'll start a new inaugural tradition by choosing my favorite photo of the year!
This panorama inside Ft Mifflin during the recent Seige Weekend is the one I chose! I awarded myself a first place blue ribbon! In blog # 19, I featured another Ft Mifflin panorama. This time it, was the back of the fort near the Delaware River.
How did I create this one? I stitched ten photos together in Adobe Photoshop. I stood on the highest mound with an excellent view of the compound. My waist and legs were still and, I twisted 180 degrees left to right. Every few seconds would stop, shoot another shot, always trying to remain level. I tried this technique a few times. If you have program that can make panoramas, try to create one. It's fun.
This one was the best of the bunch. The clouds look great, the Delaware River is viewable in the top left corner, and the Philly skyline appears slightly in the top right corner! It's visible but, you need to look closely.
Plus, something significant happened to me this summer. My eyesight wasn't good. I needed cataract surgery in both eyes. The left eye was done in July (outpatient surgery) and, two weeks later, the right eye. Wow- seeing everything in focus again is incredible.
Mt. Vernon, George Washington's estate, nestled on the Potomac River, was my first reenactment of the year, held in May. I've been here a few times. It's a memorable mansion with numerous additional buildings and speculator landscaping. Slave labor built this plantation; let's not forget that.
In blogs #36 & #37, I review my trip. I didn't take many photos during this visit. I preferred to walk the grounds; it was a beautiful day.
Another event I wrote a blog about #38 was the Jacobsburg Historical Society-Revolutionary War Weekend held in late May. It was my first time attending. I had a difficult time photographing because my vision was awful. But, I was able to capture some good photos. Near the end of the event, the American troops depicted a deserter on trial. The reenactors enjoy adding these sketches to the event schedule.
In September, there was a new event, Battle at Chadds Ford blog # 41, to commemorate the Battle of Brandywine in 1777. A festival event with many family activities. Always feels great to capture a good volley firing!
What makes my photos different at Cliveden from the other events is the many trees located around the house. The beams of sunlight shine sporadic light through from the musket volleys. It's a distinctive, very cool effect! Every year at a Germantown reenactment, this happens like this photo.
Another event I attend almost every year is Washington's Crossing. They have two crossings. The practice one, about two weeks before the main event on Christmas Day. And the big one, on Christmas Day. Many families make this part of their annual Christmas celebration.
This event was significant in the outcome of the American Revolution. If George Washington & his troops failed in crossing the Delaware River and defeating the Hessians at Trenton, the American Independence cause was lost.
This event has so much significance. I met a photographer from CA working for a photo agency who had on his "bucket list" to attend this event. He wasn't disappointed. Later, he e-mailed me and said one of his photos was selected. Funny, the client is from London, England! I chuckled when reading this.
Thank you for reading! Happy New Year! Blog # 44 will be posted in February 2022. Be safe & well & please get the booster shot.