My Favorite American Revolution Reenactment Cannon Blasts 1-5

May 31, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I selected numbers 6-10 of my favorite cannon shots in last month's blog. For this month, I'll review my five favorites. At any American Revolution reenactment that fires cannons, they are one of the spectator's highlights. Most kids shout approval, babies cry, dogs howl or bark, and adults are startled. 

From my friend Harry Schenawolf, historian, author, and publisher of the Revolutionary War Journal's website, I learned the sizes of cannons used during the American Revolution. At most reenactments, the artillery units are using the smaller 2-pounder.

5) This photo, from the Battle of Iron Hill in 2009, is a favorite not because of the cannon blast but because of the crew's reaction. Yes, I remember the loud echo from the close when the cannon fired from this street reenactment. It can be so loud sometimes car alarms would go off.

4) This photo from Ft. Lee in 2018 reminds me of pyrotechnics from the 4th of July fireworks celebration. You never know what a cannon blast will look like; each is unique.

3) At first glance, some photos you just like. That's true for me with this photo from the Battle of Trenton in 2013. Instantly, I liked and thought it was different. None of my cannon photos before or after have this goldish, metallic color. Every time at an event, I want different and unique images. This photo does that.

2) I'll often zoom in as close as possible for cannon photos. This photo, from the Battle of Trenton 2016, was also a street battle in Trenton. I zoomed to 600mm, about six times what the average eye sees. Plus, to capture a good shot, my camera Nikon D500 is in burst mode and can shoot ten frames per second. Though fast, many cameras even have a higher count.

The cannon blast produces a lot of heat, smoke, and sparks. The photo shows what the eyes can't. That's why I zoom in often on cannon shots. I'll review it immediately on my camera to see if I captured a good one. I was happy this day!

1) I remember taking this photo vividly. It happened at the Battle of Ft Lee in late November 2017. The sun was setting, and the light was perfect. Plus, where the cannon was in the shade. These were just ideal photography conditions. 

Many times, after a firing, I'll review what I took before the cannon crews can resume again. After taking this photo, I thought it would be great, and it was a wow. I shared it with a photo friend next to me, who said the same thing. Just a spectacular shot!

Thank you for reading! 

Blog # 61 will be posted in July 2023. Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer


My Favorite American Revolution Reenactment Cannon Blasts 6-10

May 01, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

When I started attending American Revolution reenactment events over a decade ago, one of the day's highlights was capturing at least one good cannon blast for those events that included artillery. Usually, I did get at least one good photo. At most reenactments with cannons, their firing usually starts the reenactment. It usually startles all participants, especially young children, and dogs. At my last event, I captured four terrific cannon blasts. Afterward, why not write a blog about my top 10 ones?

I started reviewing all my galleries to find the best ones. I chose 80, possibly good ones to feature. Selecting my best ones was challenging, but I initially chose my top 10. 

10) The photo below is from the Battle of Germantown in 2016After viewing it, a gun crew reenactor told me they had changed their safety procedures. The gun crews didn't realize how far out the blast went. One of my photos helped; such a good feeling.

9) This photo is different from all my other top 10 cannon photos. It was snowing at the Battle of Trenton in 2012. Looking closely, you can see the Chase (the barrel) exuding so much heat that the snow melts. 

8) This photo I've always liked. Part of it it's a simple composition, and the lighting is perfect. It's one of my best earlier photos, from the Assault at Fort Mercer in 2008.

7) After the flame from a cannon blast comes the smoke, most times, it swirls around like a morning fog. At other times it's a ball of fire with small pieces of flaming sparks, like here. This photo is from the Battle of Trenton in 2011. 

6) I often zoom in as closely as possible with my long lens on the cannon burst. If the background is dark, like in this photo from the Battle of Germantown in 2013, I get an almost painting-like effect from the smoke. It almost doesn't look like a photo at first glance.

Thank you for reading! Next month I'll review my top 5 cannon photos.

Blog # 59 will be posted in June 2023. Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer


5 Favorite Portrait B&W American Revolution Photos

March 31, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I first learned photography using film. My first SLR (single-lens reflex) camera was a Nikon 20-20. Those small film canisters had the most 36 exposures and were for either color or B&W. Through classes, I learned how to develop & print in B&W. It was fun creating unique photos by adding dodging & burning techniques. Now, with a digital Nikon D500 SLR camera, I'll later convert some images to B&W in a digital darkroom using On1 Software. My preference is B&W, even in the movies I mostly watch.

They are from the 30s and 40s, especially the film noir (dark film) genre. You may have never heard of this category before? Their popularity was during the mid to late 40s. This film style was gritty and urban, with stark lighting, flawed heroes, and shady characters. Fun movies to watch; you will be hooked! My favorites are Laura, The Maltese Falcon, and Double Indemnity. 

After a reenactment when reviewing my event gallery, I'll determine if the photo should be in color or B&W. For my reenactment portraits, so many of them color it doesn't have the same emotional impact! What do you think?

This photo is from the Washington Crossing event in 2018. It's George Washington using his spyglass to view the other side of the Delaware River, my favorite B&W photo.

Portraits make great B&W photos. Here is a perfect example. In color this photo, from the Assault on Ft Mercer 2022 event doesn't inject the look of a tired, veteran America Revolution soldier. In blog #55, I explained taking this photo. 

This photo is from the Battle of Germantown 2017. It looks like it was taken in a photography studio. The natural light and his expression make for a beautiful photo which I discuss in blog #25.

I captured many good photos including this one, at the Washington Crossing 2017 event.The rowers were lining up to board the Durham boats. Converting him to B&W heightens his rugged features.

This photo was also taken at the at the Washington Crossing 2017 event. Instead of a rower he is a soldier. The B&W intensifies his weariness of the moment. If photography existed that Christmas night in 1776 this is how the soldiers would have looked!  

Thank you for reading! 

Blog # 59 will be posted in May 2023. Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer



5 Reasons to Attend an American Revolution Reenactment

February 28, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

February is the month I start preparing for the new American Revolution reenactment year. To start, I'll review two sites, The Continental Line, recreated units representing the Continental Army, and The British Brigade, recreated units that served with the Crown Forces during the American Revolution. You can also find the event schedule for the Great Lakes region The North West Territory Alliance (NWTA).

Luckily, one of my photo friends keeps me updated on future events. The first one usually occurs in April. There are fewer now because of our country's political environment. Many reenactments have now become festivals meaning reenactors are not allowed to fire volleys at each other. Why?

As my photo friend explained, many states in our area have enacted gun laws & that ban face-to-face encounters. So now is the time to attend an American Revolution reenactment while you still can. Here are five reasons why.

1) Learning about our country's beginnings is essential.  Many reenactors are experts on this period of history and are knowledgeable about the battles and 18th century colonial history.

This photo is one of my favorites. I took it at the Battle of Trenton in 2013. The setting was perfect because it was snowing. We all read how difficult it was for Washington and his men to cross the Delaware River. I dressed warmly that day, but it was still cold. Imagine what it must have been like for Washington's army without sufficient clothing and many without shoes. The sacrifices these men made are implausible!

2) You will always meet interesting people. I know many of the reenactors because I've been photographing these events for so long. But at every reenactment, I meet someone new, including spectators. I snapped this reenactor after a cannon demonstration at the Assault at Ft. Mercer 2022 event. Where else can you take a photo like this?

3) There are so many subjects to photograph at a reenactment. Sure, there are the reenactors, camp life, and the reenactments with all the cannons and muskets firing away, But, there is so much more. I saw a reenactor at the Battle of Short Hills 2017, walking this cute, friendly dog and asked if I could take his photo. I sat on the ground, saw those beautiful eyes and inviting smile, and took a few shots. This photo always makes me smile!

4) At most events, there will be children's activities. Many times, it will be drilling the "troops." I always get a laugh watching the kids playing soldiers and the amused adults watching.  I took this photo at the Chadds Ford 2021 event.

5) At many larger reenactments, sutlers (merchants) will attend to sell their wares. So, if you were seeking 18th-century clothing or shoes, you can find them at these events. Now, some focus to reenactors, and others, such as my friend Ron Mehalko founder of Revolution Wear, cater primarily to spectators since he sells quality merchandise pertinent to the Revolution. This photo is from the Battle of Monmouth in 2019.

To learn more about the American Revolution, I recommend my friend's site, Harry Schenawolf, Revolutionary War Journal, whose website has a wealth of information on the people involved and battles that make our country's founding so fascinating. He's incorporated many of my photos into his articles. Thanks, Harry!

Thank you for reading! 

Blog # 58 will be posted in April 2023. Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer



Attending a new American Revolution Reenactment-The Battle of Princeton 2023

January 31, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Attending a new American Revolution Reenactment is always fun. You don't know what to expect. This time it was the Battle of Princeton on the first Sunday in January. This event has occurred sporadically over the years. One of my photo friends said to leave home at the site early, by 7:00 am. It was around 6:30 am when I started from the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. The drive took me about 80 minutes. There was no traffic, so I was cruising, listening to the music of Bob Dylan. I arrived around 7:30 am, which I'm glad I did because parking was limited. I saw old friends, made some new ones, and by chance, spoke with the Executive Director of Ft. Mifflin in Philadelphia. I had a great day.

After parking and wandering around, I spotted the Thomas Clarke House. Here is where American General Hugh Mercer was wounded in the battle, carried to the field hospital, and died nine days later.

Thomas Clarke House-where American General Hugh Mercer died from his wounds in 1777.

Below shows the crowd gathering as the reenactment was starting. The news said there were about 800 spectators. This reenactment was unusual because it began early at 9:30 am and ended around 2:00 pm, with the reenactment starting at 10:00 am. That's early! Wawa the convenience store headquarted near my home was there to provide free coffee. On a cold day it tasted perfect.

With this photo, I envisioned first how to construct it. I was on the main road looking down at the sloped open field. I moved around until I could capture the crowd, road sign, and the most challenging part, some reenactors in the photo. It created a special triangle effect.

I don't have a photo like this before, I believe. It shows the flash when the flint struck the steel lip igniting the black powder in the flash pan. It's just before the flash explosion. It's incredible with photos that you can see something in a new way that your eyes cannot! 
Only eight days after George Washington's victory, Hessian forces garrisoned in Trenton, New Jersey, defeated a force of British troops near Princeton, New Jersey. Although the two battles of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton were relatively small, they did help the morale of the patriot cause and helped increase many recruits to join the Continental Army. The photo below gives an idea of how the battle might have looked.

With all the muskets & cannons blasting away, it was hard to see clearly with the swirling wind and blowing smoke. During a real battle, it was almost impossible to see anything.

At any reenactment with cannons, I will capture a few good shots of flashes from at least one. I posted 11 in this gallery. At no previous reenactment event did I ever have so many excellent cannon photos. Here is the photo gallery link American Revolution Photos |Battle of Princeton 2023

Thank you for reading! 

Blog # 57 will be posted in March 2023. Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer