Ten of my Unique American Revolution Reenactment Photos Part 1 of 2

March 31, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

All my photography friends were at an American Revolution reenactment event last year. It was great. So, what did we discuss? Of course, our best photos. We're similar to fishing buddies trying to impress each other on who caught the biggest fish! We go back and forth, trying to top each other with embellished lore and tall tales. We're all good photographers, so the stories are impressive. Our recent topic was creating unique photos. I thought that would make a great blog! I'll discuss five photos for this blog and five next month.

I've reviewed all of these photos before in other blogs. For all of them, I used On1 software in post-processing, and for some, I used enhancing filters to alter the image significantly. Post-processing is the fun part of creating an image for me.

One of my friends specifically mentioned this photo below. I took it many years ago at the Battle of Germantown in 2012 and liked it. I didn't think it was remarkable then, but I was wrong! I've taken hundreds of musket blasts similar to this for many years, and not one has the sparks flying and swirling like this.

I'm also now using a new photo editing program to create cinematographs (subtle movement). My friend Harry Schenawolf, editor of Revolutionary War Journal, used this photo in one of his articles, Matchlocks & Flintlocks. I made this photo a cinemograph, it adds a new perspective. Take a look. What do you think?

Before most of the battle reenactments start, I tell myself to remember to zoom in as close as possible to my subject. I'm seeking that unique perspective! By doing this, I captured some of my best shots. Here is a perfect example. During the Battle of Trenton in 2019, I could zoom in close as the reenactor poured powder into the flash pan. This technique is challenging because the reenactors steadily move during the street battle. I like this photo; it was hard to capture.

I've often commented on this photo in other blogs from the Battle of Chadds Ford in 2021. When I added the radial blur filter, I made this photo look like an actual war photograph, and it gives me chills every time I see it! I've never seen another photo like it.

This photo never fails to amaze me. When I took it, I had no clue that Spyglass had the Delaware River's reflection. There are similar photos like this in my gallery from the Washington's Crossing 2019 event, but this is the best one. I am still trying to figure out what I did to get this reflection. I tried replicating it at each new Washington's Crossing event but have failed. Maybe I'll never be able to capture this again.

This image is a composite from the Battle of Newtown 2019 event. Did I take the shots consecutively? No! Only after reviewing the photos later did, I notice taking the same Native American reenactor headshot of his left and right side. Each image separately is good, but combined, it's perfect. I didn't plan it, though!

Thank you for reading! Blog #71 will be posted in May 2024.  Be safe & well!

 

Ken Bohrer

 

 


Battle of Trenton 2023

February 29, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

One of the photo techniques I use to make my photos unique is to zoom in as much as possible on my subject. It's hard during a reenactment with so much action and movement co-occurring. That's what is fantastic about the Battle of Trenton event, especially the morning street battle. So much action is happening, and at the same time, I'm trying to eliminate the modern city environment, such as telephone poles, cars, etc., as much as possible.

My Nikon 80-400 4.5-5.6 VR lens is the only one I use during a reenactment battle.  I was only about 5 feet away when taking this photo of the Hessian soldier adding black powder to his musket's flash pan. 

My good friend Harry Schenawolf, editor of the Revolutionary War Journal, describes in an article "Loading and Firing a Brown Bess Musket in the Eighteenth Century" how an 18th-century musket is loaded.

Half cock the musket by pushing back on the hammer with flint attached (called a dogshead). Push the frizzen  forward, open the pan (or flash pan), and pour a small amount of black powder from the cartridge.

Here's another photo of me zooming in on a reenactor firing his musket as tight as possible. I never know what to expect. This time, I noticed his eyes closed and then the sparks plus the smoke from the musket firing. Being so close adds more drama, and so many times, I'm surprised by the results.

Catching the peak action is always the goal. The surrender here ends the first battle in Mill Hill Park. You notice the out-of- focus British/Hessian troops holding their muskets upside down. 

Before I explain the photo here, I want to mention a pleasant experience. I was at my usual spot just past the Jackson Street Bridge, waiting for the second battle to commence around 3 pm. Behind me, at the end of the townhouse, I noticed numerous folks coming and bringing food. I jokingly asked one guy carrying a crock pot thanks for lunch and asked why everyone was entering this home with food. He mentioned a neighborhood party every year at this reenactment. About 15 minutes later, the person I spoke with tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a bowl of chili with cornbread. What a lovely gesture! I thanked him and had a delicious afternoon snack!

At no other Trenton reenactment, I've attended was the cannon placed on the bridge. Usually, it was on a hill adjacent to me. I like catching the cannon blast as the British troops are charging. It makes for an exciting photo.

Sometimes, you notice an object you haven't seen before, even when visiting that location numerous times. That's what happened here. This considerable medallion was on the right side of the barracks, where the officers lived, about 20 feet up. I was curious about its history, so I contacted the Executive Director Michelle Doherty and asked. She responded and stated.

The lion and unicorn medallion on the outside of the building is original to the building and is the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The Old Barracks was built in 1758-9 to house British soldiers during the French and Indian War. 

To enhance the medallion as much as possible, I used sharpening tools in On1 software. It brings out the detail in the lion and unicorn. It's a good reminder that even if you visit someplace often, on any new visit, you might see something different and unique.

Thank you for reading! Blog #70 will be posted in April 2024.  Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer

 


Washington's Crossing 2023-Christmas Day

February 01, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

George Washington and his ragtag troops of about 2,400 crossed the icy Delaware River on Christmas Day around 6 PM during a severe snowstorm, one of the pivotal moments of the American Revolution. The revolution likely would have ended without this daring surprise attack and the defeat of the Hessian garrison at the Old Barracks in Trenton, NJ. Over the past 60 years, the crossing reenacted is held on Christmas Day, with thousands of spectators watching reenactors crossing the Delaware River from PA to the shore of NJ in replica Durham boats. For many families in the area, attending this event is a Christmas Day tradition. 

There is also the two-week before practice event, which I attend more often; it's a festival. I came on Christmas Day this year. I left home around 10:30 for about one hour, mainly around the Philadelphia highway. It was a beautiful, sunny day with above-average temperatures.

Once I arrived, I met some photo friends and spoke with some reenactors. It was only a short time before I spotted George Washington entering the (McConkey's Ferry Inn) to plan the crossing with his officers. His lifeguards were protecting him outside. I first converted this photo to black and white and used a new photo post-processing technique, the canvas filter in On1 software, to make it appear like a charcoal painting. With his spyglass, George Washington viewing the Delaware River was the perfect choice for this technique. 

This photo shows the Delaware River and the Washington Crossing Bridge linking PA and NJ. It is near where George Washington and his men crossed on Christmas Day. I shot this panoramic on the PA side while waiting for the event to commence. You'll notice the entire bridge overflowing with spectators with a closer look. I've taken photos from the bridge a few times. You get a different perspective when the Durham boats are crossing; they appear so small in scale. You are also in amazement at how George Washington and his men managed this crossing in an icy, dark river with horses and cannons in a blizzard without being spotted by the Hessian troops. It was a miracle! 

The Washington Crossing Bridge with many spectators observing the crossing. Chief Artillery Officer Henry Knox met George Washington when he became Commander of the American Army in 1775 at Cambridge, MA, and a close confidant of Washington throughout the war. He was involved in many significant battles, including Trenton. This photo shows him walking behind Washington while addressing his troops before the crossing. Even though Washington is out of focus in this photo, you know it's him!

The 13 six-pointed Star Commander In Chief blue flag designates Washington in the boat. He followed typical European tradition by having a flag designed for himself as an army leader. Where the general was at any time, so was the flag. If you look closely here, you can spot Washington at the bow. 

When reviewing this image, I immediately considered emphasizing the flag's water reflection in my post-production process. I cropped the photo to show this and used the canvas filter in On1 software for the painting effect. I like the results!
Thank you for reading! Blog # 69 will be posted in March 2024.  Be safe & well!

Ken Bohrer


American Revolution Photos-2023 Recap

December 31, 2023  •  1 Comment

 

The influential photographer Ansel Adams said, "Twelve significant photos in any year is a good crop." For my 2023 photo recap, I'm selecting five of my favorites. Did I achieve the twelve significant photos for the year like Ansel Adams? Maybe? I chose from nine events last year and over 450 posted photos. This time, I didn't choose my overall favorite. I like all of them wholly for different reasons.

When photographing a person, you're always looking for human emotion. This photo from the 1777 Whitemarsh encampment does just that. You can feel his frustration as he attempts to fix his rifle. We can all relate to being just like this moment when we're doing something that isn't working just right! Ah, we do try!

My favorite photo of 2022 is similar to this one. It's from the Battle of Monmouth and has three British soldiers standing in a line, with one pondering about something. This photo again has three British soldiers, and they appear to be nothing special until you look closely at the placement of the three tin canteens. At the top left, the first soldier is starting to sip from his, the second is swallowing, and the third is putting the plug back in the canteen-just a perfect sequence. I couldn't have planned this!

Some photos make you smile, and this is one of them for me. It's from the recent Revolutionary Germantown Festival. I noticed this man with the three-corned colonial hat holding this adorable baby girl and asked if I could take their photo; he graciously said yes. It was my first shot of the day. Sometimes, that one is the best overall.


For the last few years, Ft Mifflin has offered, as part of siege weekend, the opportunity to cruise the Delaware River around the fort with Gloucester City’s Tall Ship, the Schooner North Wind. For this photo and two others of the same ship, #7, #8, and #9 in this photo gallery, I used On-1 software to create an old, period type photo by adding a canvas filter that makes the image resemble a painting. Just perfect!

Here is a simple but interesting photo from the Battle of Monmouth 20233 event. It follows numerous photography composition rules, such as not having the subject in the center of the frame, leading lines, and shallow depth of field. One rule I didn't follow was having my topic on the left side of the frame. It's okay because you notice the out-of-focus soldiers first, leading to the subject. It works.

Thank you for reading! Blog # 68 will be posted in February 2024.  Be safe & well, and Happy New Year!

I learned that reenactor/sutler Ted Hueskin passed away in November. I've known him and his wife, Sue, for over ten years, and at every event, we would say hello and chat for a few minutes. Wonderful guy! I have many photos of him over the years, including this one from the 2022 Washington's Crossing event, where he was one of Washington's lifeguards. He's the soldier at the left holding his musket with his left hand. RIP Ted!

Ken Bohrer


 

 


 

 

 

 


Revolutionary Germantown Festival 2023

November 30, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

The Marketing and Development Coordinator at Cliveden (also known as the Chew House) had recently asked me to photograph the special events at the early October 2023 Revolutionary Germantown Festival. I've attended the Battle of Germantown reenactment event many times since I live in the Philly suburbs. It has become a different type of event in the last few years. Pre-covid, it was called the Battle of Germantown (two battle reenactments), with the highlights having George Washington's troops storming the Clevedon stone mansion unsuccessfully, just like the actual battle on October 4, 1777. 

This year, again, it was a festival with a small number of Continental and British first-person interpreters, vendors, a replica of George Washington's mobile tent, a battle overview by Thomas J. McGuire, the commemoration of those who were in the battle, an exhibition from the Souls Shot Portrait Project, Storytime at 10:30 am at the new Literacy Nest and family-friendly activities. I thought of myself as an event photographer, not one photographing a reenactment. It was essential to see the big picture and capture the special moments.

The weather forecast for the day was intermittent rain with downpours. We got lucky, with only a few scattered showers throughout the day. Here was one of the first photos I took in the morning. I saw this man with the three-cornered hat holding this adorable baby girl. I got it on my first attempt; sometimes, everything works perfectly! Here is the link to this event's photos.

The day was about educating the public about the life of an American Revolution soldier. It's needed to start educating kids about our history accurately and honestly.

Reenactors are accustomed to having their photos taken. Just ask politely, and they will usually say okay. That's what I did here.

In all my years visiting this site, it still amazes me that this is the original house that played such a pivotal role in the outcome of the Battle of Germantown in 1777. The mansion is that old. At this event, author Thomas J. McGuire always provides an excellent oration of the battle and the role of this mansion in it.

There is always a commemorative ceremony by British and Continental troops for who lost their lives at the battle. On both sides, about 200 soldiers were killed.

Thank you for reading! If you need an event photographer for an event, please get in touch with me.
Blog # 67 will be posted in January 2024. I'll share my top 5 photos of 2023. Be safe & well and Happy Holidays!!

Ken Bohrer