Walnut Grove Plantation, near Spartanburg, South Carolina, is operated by the Spartanburg County Historical Association. This living history site “recounts how free and enslaved people settled the South Carolina Backcountry, fought for independence, and built a new nation.” And for two days every fall they demonstrate that with the presence of scores of reenactors, interpreters and craftsman at their annual Festifall event. This is a beautiful site, and one that I will return to even without the bustle of a major event.
There was plenty to photograph on this early fall weekend. Like always, I found my favorite subjects in the quiet moments around the encampments before and after the battle. Since Walnut Grove Plantation is a relatively small site, the skirmish was fought on the front yard of the homestead. As a result spectators were given a unique opportunity of being close to the action, which always makes for a better experience and better images!
Here are a few of my favorite images from the day. Click to enlarge them.
The skies were cloudy when I arrived and this was my first view of the grounds. The shade from the surrounding trees formed a natural vignette, and a row of crepe myrtles served to frame my subjects.
The little girl and her dog are adorable, of course. But the lines - both visible and implied - in this image add a nice compositional element, as well as the blue tone that is repeated throughout the frame.
It was the tranquility of the scene that drew me to this image. Soft light and those gentle earth tones seemed to reflect the mood of those sitting at this campsite.
I enjoy shooting the troops as they drill. It often provides opportunities for some interesting shots and gives me some familiarity with what I might see in the battle later. I do my best to stay out of the way, generally shooting with a longer lens. Of course, sometimes the officer decides to direct his unit directly at the photographer. I captured this image while still in relative safety, but made my retreat as soon as I did!
The canopy over his head provided soft warm light, while the sunlight at the edge created a nice rim light on the side of his face.
The clouds I was enjoying earlier in the day had now departed, leaving us with harsh sunlight. I was happy to find these brothers chatting in the shade as I approached the British camp.
My general preference is to desaturate my images, but sometimes the color is the best part of the view!
I am aware, of course, that I'm photographing reenactors. But I often wonder about those that they portray and what their thoughts would have been at this moment, lining up for the march toward the battlefield.
Note the reflection of the musket spark in the glasses of the first patriot on the left.
It's unusual to be able to shoot right along the firing line.