Monday, November 19, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Monday, Nov. 19th

Well kids, I had a really good and busy weekend this week and it all started Friday evening. Scott had Bird, Brian and I over for a night of experimental cooking wherein he tested a few soup recipes on his unwitting victims. I believe the selections were chestnut, mushroom, and butternut squash. Of the three I think the chestnut soup had the most potential however it needed a little work. Regardless all three of them were pretty tasty and the rest of the dinner, coq au vin and some chocolate pie, was excellent! After hanging out for a bit I headed home because I knew on Saturday I was going to have a very full day and boy was I right.

I dragged out of bed around 8:30 on Saturday morning and headed out to Liendo Plantation for their Civil War Weekend. Liendo Plantation is a stone's throw from Prairie View, in fact the Liendo Parkway is the exit I take when going to visit my dad's house in Prairie View. 290 runs right along the edge of the current plantation property and for all the time I was living in College Station I would pass right by the plantation and their giant billboard advertising the Civil War Weekend. Every time I would drive by the sign I would make a mental note to myself that this is something I should check out. Then I would drive by the sign sometime in December or January and cuss because my mental note had failed me yet again! For whatever reason this event was on my mind this year and I finally managed to make it out to Liendo Plantation.

Despite the crap-ass weather on Saturday I had a very good time. I enjoyed wandering around the various encampments and chatting with some of the reenactors. I also chatted with a few other attendees, which is very unusual for me. I ended up spending a good part of the afternoon talking with Thomas Eishen, an accomplished photographer and novelist. Our conversation was very wide-ranging and I really enjoyed meeting him. Now all I have to do is pick up his book and check it out, something I meant to do today so I could read it over the long weekend, alas I was actually busy at work!

The "battle" itself took place on an open field bordered by trees on one end and a curve in 290 along the far side. This is probably the same field where the billboard I used to see every time I drove by lives. Saturday's scenario was a sneak attack on a C.S.A. camp by Federal forces. Interestingly Camp Groce was situation on Liendo Plantation's lands during the Civil War. Camp Groce, or Camp Liendo as it was commonly called, served as a prison camp for Union soldiers as well as a recruiting station and a refugee camp. Even with the home-field advantage the Confederate forces surrendered the camp, thus setting the scene for Sunday's scenario in which the Confederate forces retook the camp using much the same tactics.

As much as I enjoyed the "battle" on Saturday I left rather frustrated. As I said the weather was truly crap. Not crap enough to chase me indoors, but the sky was overcast with very thick clouds which meant when I was photographing the event I was shooting with some ridiculously slow shutter speeds. I ended up tossing about a quarter of the pictures from Saturday as they were so badly under-exposed I do not think I could correct the issues in Photoshop. Sunday the weather was MUCH better in the afternoon with the sun playing peek-a-boo in the clouds during the "battle." Overall I am significantly more pleased with the photos I shot on Sunday with two exceptions. The first is that due to the storms that rolled through on Saturday night, there were significantly fewer reenactors for Sunday's battle. This saddened me because as proud as I am of being a Texan, every time I see a Union regiment advancing with the regimental colors and Stars and Stripes flying in the wind I am almost moved to tears. This strikes me as one of the most beautiful and terrible sights on the battlefield. Here is a picture I took on Saturday which I was hoping to be able to recreate with better lighting on Sunday.


Oh well, there is always next year!

The second reason my Sunday pics bug me a bit is that due to where I chose to shoot from and the fact that I actually stood rather than sitting on the ground there are several shots which would be really cool if there wasn't this big fucking freeway in the background. DAMN YOU MODERNITY!* Additionally along the tree line which defined the back of the field of battle there are a couple of power lines. With some of the angles I was shooting the power lines actually come out looking like wires in the fence which bisected the battle field, however in other they are plainly not a fence. Fortunately they are against a busy and usually out of focus background so it will be easy enough to clone stamp them out in Photoshop. There is nothing to be done about 290 though. Argh!

After the reenactment I wandered through the camps a bit more and tried to track down a couple of the reenactors I had talked to on Saturday without any luck whatsoever. Since they were in a fairly primitive camp, which they called a campaign camp, I suspect they were one of the groups that got washed away. It was too bad because I wanted to get some contact information from them. They seemed like a good bunch and this sort of reenacting is something I have been interested in for some time. Oh well, I think I have tracked them down on the web. Time to fire off an email and see. I also picked up a CD from the local group Celtaire. I have seen them at Ren Faire and like this sort of music so I went ahead and bought their From the Heart of Texas album, a collection of twenty-three songs popular in the state during it's first one-hundred years. The album has been submitted for consideration in the Grammy category of best historical album. While the album is a rather hit or miss affair in my mind as I am not a big fan of the vocals, I certainly hope they win!

In addition to all the reenacting fun, Matt decided to crash at my casa after he worked at the UW on Saturday night due to the weather we were going to be hit with. He did not want to get caught out on the road. It was pretty cool to hang out with him for a couple of hours before I had to crash. We talked about joining the novice league over at the Aerodrome so we will see what comes of that!

All in all this was a really good weekend. Spent time with some old friends and made a couple of new friends and I think the photographing at Liendo Plantation was a good learning experience for next year. Who knows, maybe I'll haul my butt out to Bellmeade this next May and check out the reenactment there, as well. Well, it is getting late so I am going to get this posted and then crash. For your entertainment I offer up the following gallery of pictures I shot this weekend:

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by james7329

* Oddly enough this is how I felt in Human Sit in college as well. I guess you can't teach an old James new tricks. Sorry ladies!

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