In Virginia's Shenandoah Valley last week on a shoot, I had to wait out persistent rain. After a complete wash-out on July 4th, I decided the next day to escape to the north to try to find drier conditions. With Gettysburg less than three hours away, and having never seen the battlefield, it seemed like a good opportunity to insert some sightseeing into the agenda.
I'm a history buff, so this was my kind of outing. It was much more than I expected, though. For one thing, it is expansive. Knowing that it looks much the same now as it did then made it very tangible. Envisioning the events of those three long-ago days - and the many thousands of casualties (more than 7,000 dead, more than 30,000 wounded, and nearly 11,000 missing) - while looking at the very landscapes where it all occurred was quite moving.
Though I had the camera in the car, I didn't expect to shoot anything. However, I was taken by the 19th century-style fences which stand throughout the military park, so began to look for a way to photograph them. As I was making my way slowly around Oak Ridge, site of fighting on the first afternoon of the battle, I spotted a clump of Black-eyed Susans standing on the fence line. It felt to me almost as though I could be looking at flowers adorning a cemetery honoring the Civil War dead on Decoration Day. The unsettled sky added to the scene. There was my photograph.
I had to work quickly since the sun was trying to break through the clouds - but was able to make the photo I wanted.