I’ve begun volunteering with our local museums. The Cultural & Heritage Museums of York County, South Carolina is a family of four separate museums, including Historic Brattonsville, a 775-acre Revolutionary War site. One of the highlights of the year at Brattonsville is the reenactment of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat. I’ll leave the facts and significance of the battle to the experts and focus our attention here on the reenactment and the photographic opportunities it presents.
Kevin Lynch, the site manager at Brattonsville, describes the home site as a “target-rich environment” for photographers. Candid portraits of historic interpreters, landscape photographs, architecture, wildlife, macro and still life images are everywhere, even when there isn’t a special event.
But for those two days in July, Historic Brattonsville offers a completely different experience. Well before the battle begins, you can spend time in the camps of both the Patriot and Loyalist forces. Personally, I prefer my portraits in those opportunities to be candid. Think of it as 18th-century street photography! In the gallery below, only the soldiers in the green uniforms (not on horseback) and the gentleman in the red vest posed as they saw me lift my camera. (Click on the images below to enlarge them.)
Eventually, it was time to gather for the battle itself. The battle, and its aftermath, called for a different approach to capture those moments. Longer lenses, faster shutter speeds, and the ability to capture an image quickly before the composition disappeared all added to the challenge. I enjoyed the process and came away with a few shots that I was pleased with.
Some of my favorite shots were just after the battle. I found the interplay between the reenactors interesting. In some cases, there was the shared enjoyment of what they had just experienced. For others, there was a tranquil calm after the last echoes of gunfire had fallen away.
This was my first experience at this sort of event, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It certainly won’t be my last. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to apply some of the lessons I learned at Huck’s Defeat in another setting very soon.