Seems to be the season for Civil War re-enactment in Southern California! And this weekend, Huntington Beach Central Park in Orange County, California, was the place to be. Folks came from all over the country for this annual event. The weekend included concerts by Civil War bands playing period-authentic instruments, mock battles, the Gettysburg address delivered by an Abraham Lincoln lookalike, dances, church services, and more.
I went early – before the event opened to the public. I was most interested in trying to create some interesting portraits in the early morning light with the re-enactors milling about over breakfast and campfires. Furthermore, the weather forecast was for 100+ degrees; so I definitely wanted to get in and out before I melted. To a person, everyone I met was gracious and more than happy to sit for an image or two, even as they were starting to feel the effects of the rising temperatures in their wool uniforms.
As with much of my personal work this year, my plan was to shoot only film. I brought along a couple favorite film cameras — my beloved Hasselblad 500 C/M, and my hard-to-cart-around-but-oh-so-awesome Omega 45 view camera. The 6×6 square format of the Hasselblad forces me to think differently about composition. While black and white film is more period-appropriate, I’ve recently discovered Kodak Ektar, and was so glad I took a roll with me for this event. Love the color of this emulsion!
Here are a few favorites on Ektar (from the Hasselblad):
Of course, black and white is more consistent with historical Civil War images. So a few favorites with Ilford Delta 100 Pro (again with the Hasselblad):
The Omega 45 gives me exactly two huge 4×5 sheets of film per holder, and is quite the process to shoot, so I tend to be rather more selective about subject matter, and more deliberate with composition to make sure I get it exactly right in camera. While not by any stretch comparing my images to the work of Matthew Brady, shooting with the view camera is a bit more period-accurate for a Civil War event, and puts me in a different frame of mind when shooting with it.
The first image at the top of this post is my favorite 4×5 shot of the day. Here are a few more for your consideration (Ilford Delta 100 Pro sheet film):
All in all, it was a couple hours well spent on a Saturday morning–topped off with another couple hours souping film in the kitchen sink. Met some wonderful folks, and created some images that I’m pretty happy with. Looking forward to the next event!
Note: If we met Saturday morning, feel free to download your portraits above for your personal use.