On this day 157 years ago, this bucolic site in south central Pennsylvania was the location of a pivotal moment in American history. The aptly named Cemetery Ridge, featured here, was the line where Union soldiers stopped the advance over 12,000 Confederate soldiers after they marched 0.75 mile over an open field in Pickett’s ill-fated charge. This site represents the high-water mark of the Confederacy in the Civil War, signaling the ultimate defeat of the Confederate cause. I admittedly was never particularly fascinated with Civil War history, but I’ve recently gained a much deeper appreciation for how the events on fields like this one in Gettysburg continue to reverberate through contemporary society.
Like my last image, I shot this photo with my Pentax K-1000. I was shooting a monochromatic film that used C-41 processing, meaning I would get a black and white image that could be cheaply processed with commonly used drug-store techniques as opposed to some of the classic darkroom techniques. I believe that this image was shot in September 2002 on while I was on a Boy Scout camping trip. Being affiliated with a scout group, we were allowed to camp within the National Military Park, which allowed for a bit of quiet twilight introspection on what Lincoln later described to be consecrated grounds. The battlefields at Gettysburg are a sad and eerie place, and the land still bears the weight of the suffering 7 score and 17 years later.
This photo is one of my favorites if only for its sentimental value. Shot in 2002 on an old Pentax K-1000, as part of a high school photography class project, it represents one of my first intentional explorations of lighting, pattern, and depth of field. I set up a small makeshift studio in my childhood bedroom to photograph pheasant feathers, which I have always found captivating. Manipulating the light and pattern, I learned the basic controls of that elegantly simple SLR. Since I was shooting on film, I lacked the benefit of exif data or instant image review, so I kept a notebook to record the shutter speed and aperture for all of the images. Unwilling to shell out the extra cash for expedited film processing at the local Rite-Aid, I waited a week to get that film back. It was like Christmas. Going through those photographs and comparing depth of field and contrast for the different camera settings was such a valuable learning experience. I’ve always appreciated the medium, but that’s when I fell in love with it.