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!
The image below, the entrance gate at Governor's Palace, is not a photo that would make you automatically think of Colonial Williamsburg . The front gate has two light brick columns with a stone unicorn on the left side and a lion on the right. Above the painted gate entrance is an ironworks design with a crown at the top. On either side of the main gate is a connecting high brick wall.
To make this photo unique, I didn't focus on capturing the entire main gate. Instead, it's cropped tightly on the lion statue making the steeple out-of-focus. Would you agree, a more dynamic photo? The blue sky helps make the photo glow adding incredible detail to the stone lion. I did try to learn more about the palace gate by searching online and reviewing the books I had about Colonial Williamsburg. No luck. So I contacted a reference librarian at the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library Colonial Williamsburg Foundation who, graciously sent me this information.
Restoring Williamsburg, by George Humphrey Yetter and Carl R. Lounsbury
On page 231
“Colonial records show that “handsome gates” to the forecourt were specified for the new residence in 1710. The design of the present wrought-iron gates was based on excavated fragments and eighteenth-century English examples. The Portland stone lion and unicorn atop the gate piers were sculpted in London by William Aumonier. Similar figures at Hampton Court Palace inspired their general character.”
This photo is different because it was taken with 35mm film. Remember those times? I'm not sure even what year I took this photo? Probably in the 1980s? I saw it when reviewing my numerous film storage pages. It's of the Chowning's Tavern and photographed at sunrise. About 10 years ago, I scanned the film to digital and made digital darkroom changes in On1 Photo Editing Software.
# 3 & 2
Another unique event that I hope occurs again soon is Prelude to Victory. This event celebrates the anniversary of George Washington & the French General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau anniversary when their armies stopped in Williamsburg before proceeding to Yorktown, the last major battle of the war. I had the opportunity to speak with Marquis de Lafayette portrayed by historical interpreter Mark Schneider. Of course, he was in character. He has also interpreted "Bloody Ban" Banastre Tarleton.
We have corresponded a few times since we first met. I learned he's from Long Island, like myself. The photo above is him portraying ruthless "Bloody Ban" Banastre Tarleton during Under the Redcoat in 2011. This photo is of him mounted on his horse at the Capitol. I can feel the arrogance in his portrayal of the real Tarleton. I sent Mark this photo, and he enjoyed it.
Mark Schneider has worked for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for 23 years and has performed in a variety of roles from Historic Tradesman, Military programs, Actor interpreter, Theatrical interpreter, Coach & Livestock and now as a Nation Builder where he has been performing as the Marquis de Lafayette for 20 years. Mark’s passions are history and horses and he is able to bring them both to life at Colonial Williamsburg.
My favorite Colonial Williamsburg photo is also in my top 10 list that I reviewed in blog # 23. Let me show you how I created it before you see it. At my last visit to Colonial Williamsburg, I wanted to find the house with a ladder on its side. I remembered it was near the Capitol. Here it is. How would you compose a photo from this scene?
Yes, the best photo would be the side building with the ladder. That's what I did. Here it is with a new perspective. In blog # 3, I reviewed how I created this photo.
It was early in the morning when I was walking around the streets near the Capitol. Behind a house was a storage building with a ladder hooked on it's side. Looking closer, I imagined the windows as eyes and the ladder a mouth. What an excellent photo this would be! Later in post-production, I cropped it to appear like a face. This photo still makes me smile! Does it for you?
Thank you for reading. Blog # 36 will be posted in June 2021. Be safe & well!
Thankfully the COVID crisis is improving. We now have a President taking this pandemic seriously. Plus, the vaccines are here-good news. Maybe by spring or at least summer, life will be getting back to normal? Some reenactment events are scheduled this year, yeah!
I thought this would be a great time to review my Williamsburg galleries and select my top 10 photos. For this blog, I’ll discuss numbers 6-10.
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a special occasion for me at any time but particularly when events such as Prelude to Victory or Under the Redcoat occurs. It feels a little like you're living in the 18th century.
#10 & #9 photos were taken in 2011 at the Under the Redcoat event.
Here is a simple photo that reminds me of what makes Colonial Williamsburg so special. When walking the largest outdoor living museum in the country-around 300 acres, you'll see horse-drawn carriages & wagons slowly meandering the streets carrying visitors. You do have to be careful walking in the streets if you know what I mean?
The winter months in Colonial Williamsburg are unique. It is fun seeing the snow and makes for great photos like this one. It was taken early in the morning, the best time to shoot, and the colors pop.
My perfect day is to arrive in town just before sunrise. I will bring a large coffee and my Nikon SLR camera attached with the all-purpose 24-85 mm lens. On most mornings, I’ll observe W&M students jogging, retired folks walking their dogs, and maintenance crews in their pick-up trucks cleaning the area. Between the Wren Building on William & Mary campus and the Capitol, a short distance of less than a mile, I get to stroll around the town where so many of our Founding-Fathers frequented. Amazingly, that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, and others walked these same streets. Even Benjamin Franklin, then postmaster, visited Williamsburg in 1756 & 1763
The building at the far right is the William Pitt Store a Children’s Boutique. It sells replica items from 18th-century hats to toys, games, and books.
This photo is of the restored Capitol (rebuilt in the early 1930s) from the Under the Redcoat event in 2011. When only a specific focus area in the photo is in color is called selective-color. I changed it to b&w except for the British flag. Some people don't like this technique? I only do this on select photos to make them distinctive. For me, this photo just in b&w isn't as appealing. Do you agree?
Thank you for reading. Blog # 35 will be posted in May 2021 with my top 5 Colonial Williamsburg photos Be safe & well!
At any 2-day weekend reenactment encampment, there has always been an early Sunday morning religious service. It's stated in the event schedule. I always try to attend. Usually, there will be between 10-25 British & American reenactors plus spectators like myself. The Christian observance usually lasts about 20 minutes.
When I first arrive I take a few photos. Then I'll put my camera down and participate in the service. From all my weekend reenactment photo galleries, British Brigade Deputy Commander Mark Hagenbuch is leading us. He reads a few bible passages, selects a few hymns, delivers a short sermon, and ends with a group prayer. At the end of the service, I feel comforted just like my regular weekly church service. It helps provide me peace and hope.
At an event in 2017, I noticed this cross made of sticks in front of a reenactors tent. I don't remember which camp it's from?
In my 3rd blog, over two years ago I wrote how much I enjoy visiting Colonial Williamsburg. They regularly had two events that I wish would be held again, Under the Redcoat & Prelude to Victory. Under the Redcoat is held first in late June. It depicts the British occupation (for about 10 days) of Williamsburg in 1781. The town is taken over by the British army and the reenactors set up camp throughout the historic area. Martial Law is declared.
On Sunday morning, a church service was held in front of the Capitol. All troops were required to attend.
Also, in my 3rd blog, I wrote about Prelude to Victory-
This event celebrates the anniversary of George Washington & the French General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau and their armies stopped in Williamsburg for a few days rest before proceeding on to Yorktown for the last major battle of the war.
On that weekend Sunday, there was a religious service at the side of the Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse. Besides American troops attending there also were many Williamsburg visitors.
At any weekend reenactment event, I will check the schedule to learn what time and where the religious observance will be. When you're at an event try to attend. You will feel refreshed!
Thank you for reading. Blog # 34 will be posted in April 2021. Be safe & well!