Photographer's Note


This old oak tree on a hilltop in Fredericksburg, Virginia, seen here in silhouette, was around 240 years old when George Washington lived in the city; and it was 360 years old when it witnessed the Civil War — the war between the troops of the Northern (Union) Army and the Southern (Confederate) Army between 1861-1865. Indeed, on May 2nd of 1863 during the Battle of Fredericksburg, the famous war photographer Matthew Brady produced a group portrait of Union soldiers resting with their backs against the tree trunk, their rifles arranged in a tripod formation nearby. With the pioneer photographic technology extant at the time, the subjects had to remain still for the interminably long exposure. Hundreds of photographic plates exist from the battle, but none show the action. The Library of Congress and the National Archives of the United States make available approximately 1,000 photos from the American Civil War.

I shot the photograph (of the now 500-year old tree) at 7:30 am on March 14, 2008, just as the sun was rising, and I was off to teach my 8:00 am class. (The date is appropriate, since I have been teaching Relativity, and that was Einstein's Birthday.)

The photograph is meant to serve as a counterpoint to the image, the Brompton Oak that I had submitted exactly a year ago. To the surprise of no photographer nor of any painter, light is the most important single ingredient in producing an effective photograph. Then come the quality of the technology and the technical prowess of the photographer/artist. Incidentally, the dark blotch in the top right is due to an evergreen tree, and streak of light about 1/8 from the bottom is the reflection from a brick walkway. The daylight shot "the Brompton Oak" reveal the existence of the walkway.

Nikon D200, 18-70 mm Nikkor Lens; No filter; ISO 200; Tone: Normal; Sharpness Med. H; Color, Hue: Mode 3.0; Saturation: Enhanced; Metering: Center; Shutter Speed 1/300 sec; f/7.1; Exposure -1.0; Tripod: Yes

I would like to wish my friends a HAPPY EASTER!


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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6774 W: 470 N: 12149] (41261)
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