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04-13-2011, 07:49 PM   #1
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Shoot for a 'Civil War' era Style of Image...

With it being the Civil War's sesquicentennial and all, I'm going to toss thisone out for everyone.

I was toying with this idea as a personal project of sorts, then realized it could be fun to see how more people (undoubtedly more talented than I in many cases) could do trying to pull this off.

Basically, try to mimic the style and effect of the civil war era photographers.

While I know they used large plates back then, we should be at least able to get somewhat close, no?

Any ideas as to what sort of filters of limitations we should use to do this (if anyone is interested)?

I'd think long exposures on slow lenses would probably be a natural course of action, but beyond that I've found finding details on the equipment used surprisingly difficult. Everyone talks about the results, and the fact that they're done using large plates, but past that its pretty much a mystery, and my google-fu has failed me beyond one very interesting old article from LIFE in which a modern (in 1957) photographer used a Mathew Brady system and figured the f-stops for Brady's lenses to be 'fast' 'average' and 'slow' working out to f/4.5, f/8, and f/11 respectively.

If anyone has any more informationona way to go about this, feel free to share!

04-14-2011, 01:29 PM   #2
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I was just at a Civil War 150th event. I wish I would have thought of composing pictures that way. So many posed photos of people looking right at the camera. Brady was different though, he did those, but also the action shots, or the real life shots. Of course there are those blurred shots, but also many shots from the war that were sharp and crisp. I'm going to try to put some together. You'll have to excuse the modern people and buildings in some of the backgrounds. This one however, has a building that was there, it's the Ohio Statehouse, and many of the first volunteers were sworn in and mustered right there.

04-14-2011, 01:55 PM   #3
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Here's a couple more:

04-15-2011, 12:40 AM   #4
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Hi y'all, have had an intense interest in that conflict and related photography for some time.
Cool lookin pics Ramseye.
Would like to offer some reference material that relates.To begin with,any and everything by William Frassanito.
This gentleman is preeminent in the use of actual war era pics as a means of documentation as it relates
to photography and events during the war.Library of congress has app. 14,000
period images,many of which have been scanned and are available to download. offers a wealth of information regarding equipment and
manner in which it was employed.

From what I understand one of most widely used lens was "Darlot portrait lens"
not sure of focal length,used waterhouse apeture(s) shaped liked washers that
were inserted into front end of lens via integral orifice."Wide open" was something
like F11.Was used mostly on 8x10 glass plate format(collodian wet plate)
emulsion's of the day were app. 5 iso at best.

Cant discount anyones work from that era,but some most spectacular that Ive
seen,as far as "pop" goes,are some images from Haas&Peale in the carolina's.
Brady,Gardner,Gibson,O'Sullivan,Tyson...etc So many others its impossible to list
When one considers what these folks had to deal with at times just to produce
one image,its amazing anything survived.

04-17-2011, 05:16 PM   #5
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Need some more material in this thread

04-17-2011, 06:08 PM   #6
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I got rained out on the semi-local reenactment but I look forward to seeing captures done by others.

The best I can do is this cemetery shot of the fallen.

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