History and Reenactments Just My Thoughts

Battle of Camden – 2019

Technically, the event is known as Revolutionary War Field Days. But most people around here simply refer to it as the reenactment of the Battle of Camden. I leave the history of the event to others who are better suited for it, but suffice it to say that the Continental Army received a stinging defeat at the hands of the British.

Today, hundreds of reenactors descend on historic Camden, South Carolina every November to set up their encampments, live as their forbears did, and provide a display of 18th century warfare tactics, in which the Continentals lose again. Candidly, as a photographer, the battle here is hard to capture since spectators are placed behind the continental army. It is roughly the equivalent of sitting in the end zone at a football game.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t photos to be found! In fact, I’m finding that my favorite images from these events rarely have to do with the battles themselves. I enjoy wandering through the camps, looking for decent light and interesting people. And there are no shortage of them here.

He’s not nearly as menacing as this image makes him out to be, but as he listened to his friend’s story, I was taken by his eyes. In fact, as I reviewed my images of the day, it was often the eyes that drew me to certain subjects, as you’ll see.

Napping at the Battle of Camden

Of course, sometimes the eyes are closed. This soldier had worked hard to move his cannon into position. He takes a well-deserved rest before the battle begins.

In stark contrast to the eyes in the first image, this young man almost seems to be aware that his will soon lose his youthful innocence as he beats time on the drum, moving his unit closer to the fray.

A continental soldier marches to the battlefield. Perhaps these eyes have already seen too much. He clearly knows the dread that awaits them all in a matter of moments.

Battle of Camden

A lone militiaman stands between his fallen comrades, taking what little vengeance he can against the British line. His end seems certain, as they patiently reload their next shots.

Again, the eyes say it all. Can you tell that he fought for the winning side?

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky throughout the day. The bright sun makes for harsh images, but this lady was standing beneath a white canopy, providing a blanket of soft light. This is a candid image, taken as her attention was focused on something across the way.

After the event ended and the site was closed to the public, I was invited to stay to photograph a Guy Fawkes bonfire for the reenactors. As the sun began to set, I finally was able to enjoy some fairly good light. This image shows you why photographers love to shoot at “the golden hour.”

This was my first experience of shooting by firelight, other than some small candles at Brattonsville. The fire creates both color and interesting shadows. Usually, photographers define light as being hard (like the sun) or soft (like a cloudy day, or shooting through a large umbrella). I find that fire light is somehow hard and soft at the same time.

The town cryer reads the proclamation that reminds the attendees of the crimes for which Mr. Fawkes would, once again, be burned in effigy.

Soft light provided by the enormous fire creates a perfect glow for this candid portrait.

These are some of my favorite images of the day. My complete gallery of images from the event can be found here.

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