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Old Oct 13, 2010, 7:51 AM   #1
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Default Antietam National Battlefield

The single bloodiest day in U.S. Military History occurred on September 17, 1862 in Antietam, Maryland when the Confederacy tried to take the Civil War into enemy territory and was met by the much larger Union forces. A stone bridge crossing Antietam Creek, originally constructed by local farmers to bring their produce to Sharpsburg, became the turning point in the battle when Union forces pushed the advancing Confederacy back. Although inconclusive -- with 23,100 corpses soaking the battlefield with blood, no general in his right mind could possibly contemplate proclaiming victory -- the battle at Antietam nevertheless gave then-President Abraham Lincoln enough confidence to declare his emancipation of the slaves. For the time being at least if not hopefully for good, Great Britain, France, and the other nations monitoring the war could hold off in recognizing the Confederate South as an independent nation and thus permanently dividing the country in two. (sources: wikipedia.org, “Tried By War” [2008] by James M. McPherson)

Seeing pictures of the stone arch bridge online -- now named Burnside after the Union general that crossed it -- we made the side-trip to Antietam to take pictures on our way to a relative’s house in West Virginia. We didn’t expect the battlefield to be so beautifully preserved. The park was peaceful, well-maintained, and anyone can drive through the government-purchased land for free.

I suppose being an American of ethnic origin -- none of my ancestors died fighting for America -- I was mindful of my actions as I romped about with my camera and tripod on what could be hallowed grounds at Antietam. I did not want to appear disinterested or disrespectful.

But it turned it wasn’t necessary. Instead, we felt quite welcome. At the top of the observation tower, a woman with a small digital camera smiled and said, “Oh, we have a serious camera here.” While busily focusing my shot at the landscape below, a man brushed off an insect crawling on my shoulder. And climbing up and down the tower’s narrow spiral staircase, people I met young and old stopped and waited for me to pass. In short, they were all in my view very polite.

Maybe they are used to tourists. Maybe, too, they appreciate expressions of interest about their past. Much is said about America’s greatness but in my opinion little of the kindness displayed by the common folk. Photography may be all I was after, but by coming there to take pictures maybe they have in their minds lured me into getting to know them a little bit better.

#1) Civil War cannons and monument near the Visitor Center.


#2) “Bloody Lane” leading to the Observation Tower.


#3) Spiral staircase inside Observation Tower. It was built in 1897 -- 32 years after the Civil War ended -- to serve as an open classroom.


#4) View from Observation Tower.


#5) Burnside Bridge.


Thank you for looking. C&C welcome.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 10:50 AM   #2
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Never seen pictures of the battleground. Thank you for providing them. It is indeed a sobering thought that so many lives were lost at this battle.

Pictures are excellent. Very much like the angles.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 12:45 PM   #3
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Stunning pics VV.
Thanks for the great incite into the history of the area. Brilliant.
Burnside Bridge is my favorite but there all brilliant.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 1:16 PM   #4
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I like all your shots Billy. Your staircase shot is very reminiscent of Hitchcock's Vertigo.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 2:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bynx View Post
I like all your shots Billy. Your staircase shot is very reminiscent of Hitchcock's Vertigo.
I knew there was something 'familiar' about that photograph. It is reminiscent of some of the scenes in Vertigo.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 3:48 PM   #6
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Thanks, all, for the compliments.

Paul, lesmore49: I didn’t know Vertigo -- I grew up watching a few Hitchcock films and remembering being easily terrified -- so I looked it up and found this: http://movieimage6.tripod.com/vertigo/part2.html. About 6-7 pictures down is the spiral staircase.

From outside the Observation Tower looked very civil. But inside it looked rather sinister I almost expected to smell urine (but didn’t, thankfully ).

#6) Entrance to the Observation Tower.


#7) View of “Bloody Lane”, aka “Sunken Road”, from one of the Observation Tower’s windows.


#8) Burnside Bridge from the other approach but on the same side of the creek.
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Old Oct 13, 2010, 3:57 PM   #7
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Funny you mention how nice the people were. When I'm taking pictures, I find everybody is super friendly. Even used car dealership owners have waited so I could get my shot. Trucks have stopped their turns for me. I give them a big wave. I think it's about two things: how you comport yourself and the situation. I also like to offer to take snapshots of small (2 or 3) groups. I see them struggling taking a picture, then they swap positions and do it again. And with my big camera hanging I'm not threatening. The ladies love me.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 9:10 AM   #8
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Frank, I’m approached quite a lot, too, for photos almost all in Times Square. I remember once for an old couple, two occasions each with a lone woman probably on a business trip on her lunch break, a group of friends at a Jewish Synagogue, and a very young (possibly teenage) couple. They all waited until I finished my shots when they approached. I always take three shots with their camera so they get to choose.

One time while shooting a bracket in Times Square I kind of glanced in the direction of a young group of people (possibly teenage) and noticed a girl quickly pocketing her digital camera then burying herself in the group. Her camera was pointed at me when I looked. One of her male companions laughed and said something like, “I don’t know what that was about.” I’m guessing the girl thought I was good subject matter for a souvenir photo of Times Square. I wouldn’t have minded but the moment was already gone. Since then, I try not to look around anymore while waiting for my slow exposures to finish in case someone’s taking a picture of me and pose in front of my gorillapod-mounted camera like the real photographer that I am (ahem).

#9) When the government purchased the cornfields at Antietam, grass was allowed to grow on sunken paths worn down by farmers’ wagons. I’m assuming this is one of them.
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Old Oct 14, 2010, 2:25 PM   #9
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Interesting and great shots as always.

Best regards/Daniel
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Old Oct 15, 2010, 9:42 AM   #10
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Thanks, Daniel.

#10) View of Richardson Avenue from the Observation Tower. It leads to Burnside Bridge. Parts of it were closed so we drove through regular town roads to get to the bridge.
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