Category: Gettysburg

Band of the Royal Marines

We went to the Gettysburg College’s Majestic Performing Art Center last evening to watch a show put on by the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines featuring the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards.  They put on an excellent flawless performance.

Since the lighting wasn’t even across the entire stage, I found that showing the pictures in B&W to be better, but I included two in color so you could see how they look.  I didn’t have my camera with me so I used my phone to make these imagines.  The next time I go there I will probably take my camera.  This was my first time in this theater and I didn’t know what to expect.

Spangler House: Gettysburg, PA

I loved using the small lightweight Leica X2 when taking pictures like these; but for one problem, the lack of a viewfinder.  In bright sunlight, the LCD on it is very hard to see to compose.  I missed a few scenes due to lack of ability to see finer details.  I might get a viewfinder for it.

For those interested in more details about the Spangler Farm during the Civil War, you can click here to read about it.

Eisenhower Farm … demo of WB & Exposure with Fuji X-E1

I am using this posting to show you how well the Fujifilm X-E1 does at picking White Balance (WB) and exposure under different lighting conditions.  I made these pictures while touring the Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg, PA.  It was Ike’s retreat while he was president and his retirement home afterward.

All of the indoor pictures are shown at the WB and exposure settings as chosen by the camera.  On the outdoor shots I changed the WB to daylight values in LR5 since I find the WB chosen by the camera to be slightly blue … at least in the raw files.  I haven’t tried jpegs.

The indoor pictures were made in low light since they keep all the shades drawn to keep out the sun light and use only low-wattage in the lamps to prevent fading of the fabrics.  The picture of his den, for example, was taken at ISO of 5000, f2.8 aperture, and 1/30 sec.

I am quite pleased with this camera.  It should be an excellent camera for travel and in museums.

Seeing in the Dark at Dobbin House Tavern

If you ever go to the Dobbin House Tavern in Gettysburg, PA to eat (which I highly recommend), make sure you either take a flashlight or a Fujifilm X-E1 camera so that you can read the menu.  The lighting is very low and the following is about all that you see with the naked eye.  It takes a while until your eyes adjust enough that you can barely read the menu by candle light; but only if you have good eyes.

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If you have ever been there you know what I mean.  Knowing that it was a very dark place, I took my X-E1 camera to see if it were possible to get any pictures.  I am pleased to say you can, as you can see below.  These pictures were taken at ISO’s of 5000 and 6400 using the 18 – 55 mm zoom lens, all at wide open apertures.  I took them in raw format and then used LR5 to develop them with luminance noise reduction set at 70.  You can view the results below.  The camera literally sees and focuses in the dark.  I should also note that I was shooting in the silent mode without any focusing aids.

Wide-Angle with the NEX-6 at Gettysburg

Another feature of the NEX-6 that I was anxious to try was the wide end of the Sony 16 – 50 mm power lens.  This lens is collapsed when the camera power is turned off.  When you turn the camera on it automatically extends to it’s operational length at the 16mm end.   I am a little concerned about relying on it to function a long time, but it sure does reduce the size of the camera and lens when walking about, and it is light-weight.  It is nice to have such a small, light-weight, optically stabilized lens with this zoom range and I hope to use this lens with the camera most of the time; but if I were traveling I would desire to have another prime lens for backup.  I have fond memories of needing to switch from a manual zoom to a prime lens due to sand getting into the sliding mechanism when in the Sahara desert with another camera.

For this article, my main interest was at 16mm focal length which is wider than any lens I have used before.  The following picture was taken at 16mm.  All of the pictures in this article were at an aperture setting of either f/8 or f/9, chosen by the camera in program mode.  One thing that I learned is that I need to be careful of holding the camera level since at 16mm there is some field curvature   This is natural for the focal length.  The software corrected for the design distortion of this particular lens which is a normal procedure now with the new lenses.  You can see some of the curvature below but it was minimal since the camera was approximately level.  At 16mm the vertical curvature would be quite noticeable if I tilted the camera up to take a picture of a tall building.

This is a monument put up to honor the Confederate troops from North Carolina.  One fourth of the Confederate troops killed at Gettysburg were from North Carolina.

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The following picture is at 48 mm, almost at the maximum zoom range.  You can see the harsh shadows in the bright sunshine.

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The following pictures were all at 16mm and any distortion is not noticeable in this type of scene.  The next picture is of the hillside while walking up Big Round Top … the same direction that the Confederates had to fight their way up.

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The one below is from the top looking toward the Union side of the battlefield.

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The one below is looking down the way the Confederates tried to go up while under fire from the Union on top.

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I have decided that I like these wide-angle pictures taken with the lens and I will have to remember to take advantage of it.  The depth-of-field is great at these apertures.  I have no complaints with this lens or camera.

NEX-6 Exposure Range at Gettysburg

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I have waited for a bright sunny day to continue my evaluation of the Sony NEX-6 and I finally got one and went to the Gettysburg Battlefield to check it out.  I took all of my pictures in program mode in raw format and used the electronic viewfinder rather than the LCD to compose my shots.

While we were there, a drum and fife corps marched up playing Civil War music.  In the above picture they were standing in the shade in front of the entrance to the Visitor Center.  The exposure range was quite severe with their dark uniforms in deep shade and the bright sky and trees in the background.

When I first put the picture up on my monitor after basic LR conversion, I was initially scared.  The camera exposed for the bright areas of the scene so that there weren’t any blown-out areas.  That was good; but the soldiers in the shade with their dark uniforms were extremely dark.  It took me some time to recover the scene to the level shown above.  In my final analysis, I was pleased with the picture but it took me a while to learn how to handle the files.  In all fairness, the Sony did well considering the dynamic range of the scene.

After a brief period (they probably got cold) they moved around to a sunny area in front of Abe Lincoln.  As you can see in the two pictures below, I still had a challenge with the exposures.

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After my initial apprehension, I was finally relieved to learn that I was the problem and all I had to do was learn how to develop them differently.  I won’t know for sure unless I take the same pictures with both my K-5 and the NEX-6, but I think that it takes a different touch in LR4 for each camera.  This shouldn’t have surprised me given the different sensors and lenses, but I hadn’t thought about it before hand.  I used the evaluative setting for exposures in all of my pictures.  I might change that to center-weighted … something else to test at a later date, but I don’t think it would have made much, if any, difference in these scenes.  Before someone asks … I didn’t take any jpeg pictures so I don’t know how the camera would have handled them.  I know that with the K-5 the raw files are better than the jpegs.

Another factor that I’m pondering is the electronic viewfinder.  With the extreme light variations, etc. it wasn’t easy to see the details around the edges of the scene … it’s nothing like an optical viewfinder.  Fortunately, I captured a slightly wider scene than needed and I was able to crop the originals a little to achieve the above pictures.  I need to check the viewfinder some more … wearing and not wearing my glasses, diopter setting, etc.; but I don’t expect it to be a problem.  With the eye shield it sure worked a lot better than an LCD in the sun.

Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage … my Impressions

I went to the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum to see Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage Exhibit which is on display there through 20 January, 2013.  Annie visited many museums and famous landmarks to record the effects of iconic personalities.  Most, but not all were taken in the U.S.  I was surprised to see images from outside the U.S. since I somehow had the impression that it was her pilgrimage through U.S. history.  Sixty-four of these images are now on display around the country.

The following are my reactions as an amateur photographer who made a quick trip through the exhibit.  My primary interest was to observe the style, composition, etc. as part of my learning experience.  I may go back and study the individual images more carefully at a later date.  I’m only showing a few samples in this blog to demonstrate my initial reactions.

In the above, the left and top images are from Sigmund Freud’s home in London.  If you look carefully you can see my reflection in front of Freud’s couch.  The picture of the bones is from Darwin’s collection in the Natural History Museum in England.

The above images are associated with Thomas Jefferson’s vegetable gardens.

These images were made in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

I made a quick trip through the exhibit so I only have some overall general impressions.  My first reaction relative to individual image compositions is that anyone could have taken them since they primarily are images of displays.  It is only in their overall grouping that I see anything of note composition wise.  To me they make the case that to get good pictures you have to travel, but in many of these it was travel to museums.  Since I have found it hard to take photographs in some museums, she may have had extraordinary permission that the normal photographer doesn’t have.

The most obvious reaction that I had as an amateur photographer was that they were well developed and printed and displayed as rather dark compositions.  The colors were rich and dark and the images stood out in their simple white frames on the off-white walls.  I didn’t get much from the images without reading the explanation for each group of photographs.  Many of the pictures don’t stand alone as a great picture even though technically they are great.  My overall reaction was that I was viewing snippets of our very dark history but I only got that impression by reading the text while viewing the images.

Please go see the exhibit if it is in a town near you so you can make up your own mind.  You can find out more about the exhibits by clicking here.