Old Fort Niagara Photo Shoot

Last week, I went on a field trip to Old Fort Niagara. What it is as stated on the official Old Fort Niagara website, “The fort played an important role in the struggles of France, Great Britain, and the United States to control the Great Lakes region of North America, and also helped shape the destinies of the Iroquois (Six Nations) peoples and the nation of Canada.” It has a long-standing tradition in American warfare with the U.S. Coast Guard being the military presence today. “Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars, but army soldiers were withdrawn back in 1963.”

Today, the fort is also a tourist attraction and a great place to bring the family for a day of fun. It is not far from where I live to drive.

It was a day to relax and take photographs. I became a ‘member’ of a local photographer’s group. I did not really get to know any of the photographers because most hung around in small groups. I did talk with some though before we went out to shoot.

I did not want to feel a little like, well,  a ….. third wheel, so I did not intrude while they were out shooting. A friend of mine suggested I join and I am glad I did. I will get to know more of the group next place we meet, which is the botanical gardens. Hey, I am in my element there. I doubt many of them take as many photos of flowers as I do (my friend excluded though). I will at least not feel so much like an amateur. The program is Night Lights in the Garden. It should be fun and ‘enlightening’.

I went off on my own and was finding things to photograph.

You can see how I was finding things others probably had little interest in.

See, the geese are not gone yet, but it looks like they hitched a ride on a barge going South.

I did try to stay on point and shoot the fort itself, but you guys know me, I am easily distracted by some really ordinary stuff.

Cannons and cameras were pointed in many directions. Earlier in the day, there was a beautiful cloud filled sky.

I could have no problem living in these structures. They are beautiful inside and out after about 300 years of military service and great battles. The fort is restored and I am sure very well maintained.

The day was sunny, but a little brisk.  Below, you can see across the river.

I wish I could show you the group’s work, but the site is for members only. It looks like a lot of HDR & Photoshopping. Some very surreal imaging. I stayed a little more traditional because I am trying to improve my camera skills.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) toning in Photoshop on one image only, not multiple exposures. This method gives impossible clarity and detail.

Original jpeg, see the difference?

Just to get an idea of what I am talking about, here is a Photoshop HDR Toning image in comparison to a shot straight from the camera without any editing. I did not use a tripod or I would have shot a HDR image since most of you will have no clue what that means. Simply, it is shooting multiple exposures of the same scene then combining them post processing into one image with essentially proper exposure for the area of the image over all individual images.

For instance, in one image you may expose for the sky to get that in the final composite. But also notice how in the stone and brick work, you can see each individual masonry unit. Unbelievable clarity and detail, and I stress the unbelievable part. I could make the HDR image better if I did more editing, but I just wanted to show you how a simple one button click in Photoshop brings out all this detail and tone.

See how it brightened the foreground too. I was telling a friend who uses Photoshop about HDR Toning and she did not know this function. So in case anyone wants to know how…. go to Images>Adjustments>HDR Toning and change the settings in the resulting window to suit your image. I just used the default settings in this illustration. It is fun to play around with and now when you see these beyond belief images, you will know how to get them yourselves.

Here is a soldier loading his musket.

We got a demonstration from a soldier in the firing of a musket. I think only one other photographer captured this shot. The musket was fired twice, and I got the firing both times. Too bad no bullet can be seen. That would be some pretty fast shutter action. I snapped the shutter rather than using the continuous burst mode. The soldier counted down, but there usually is a lapse from the time a command is heard to the reaction it creates. I think shooting birds has really made me more aware of timing and anticipation.

Late in the day I captured a photographer from the group shooting out over the lake. I think almost all of the group were shooting using a tripod since we were there until dusk. I had one in my Jeep, but I am so used to hand holding the camera, but probably would have had some images a little sharper if I used it. I left about 4:15, a little before sunset. I have many more photos to show you, but we will save those for later.

On another note, I was nominated for The Versatile Blogger award by Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, and I wanted to pass on my thanks to Kevin for this honor. Please visit his blog and see all the blogs he has selected.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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25 Responses to Old Fort Niagara Photo Shoot

  1. EL says:

    wow! Amazing photos!

  2. Very nice new header Donna. I love history and visiting historical places…this fort would be great to add to the list of places to see at the Falls and I will do that…what a great shot of the firing of the musket…all around great shots reminding me I have to get Photoshop in the near future. Congrats on the award…well deserved.

  3. Kongo says:

    Love your photos. You have a great eye..

  4. Shutter Bug says:

    Great shots and really fabulous photos. I love them all!

  5. You have so many beautiful shots here! The musket firing is amazing, but so are the cannons and fence and barrels. I think people would want to buy framed prints as souvenirs when they visit the fort.

    Congratulations on your nomination! It’s well deserved.

  6. joey says:

    So enjoyed the tour and your great images, Donna … thank you.

  7. b-a-g says:

    Donna – I bet you could have taught that photography group a thing or two. The first photo would make a beautiful postcard, but my favourite is the candid shot of the soldier with cold fingers.

  8. HolleyGarden says:

    Your photos are incredible. They could be used as postcards. Sounds like you had a great time and I know you’ll love going to the botanical garden with your group.

  9. Kevin says:

    It looks like an interesting day — I especially liked the photo of the fences. I think all too often we forget our history and this country’s early struggles. Thanks for documenting it — and thanks for the shout out!

  10. Heart-stopping images.

  11. dona says:

    I really enjoyed your photos of Old Fort Niagara. Really amazing!

  12. Marguerite says:

    We had a photographer in to shoot my husband’s work recently and were surprised when we told us the final image was actually a composite of several photographs. I had no idea that you could do this and what the result would be and now I even know the name, HDR toning!

  13. Les says:

    Thank you for the background history. I have seen quite a few HDR photos on Flickr, and I have decided I only like them when a light hand has been used.

  14. One says:

    Your photos are simply amazing! These are so different from the ones you normally share. Perhaps Photoshop contributed to the beauty but it is the composition that I love the most.

  15. andrea says:

    When i saw someone who posted lots of photos from this old Fort, i thought why you are not doing so, now you did! Before that, i thought it is only the falls which is interesting. About that photography group, i bet they will be learning a lot from you later when they know you better. I also wish i can try sometime what you are telling us for editing.

  16. Shyrlene says:

    You take the coolest ‘field trips’! LOVE your photos – you could have a library full of books with your adventures.

  17. Barbie says:

    Those photographs a just stunning!! I could just feel the cold air and the snow! 🙂
    The gees – are they Egyptian gees? We have them too here.
    And those old buildings – that fort is just amazing. Could also see myself living in them!

  18. Historical photos are my favorites. You captured the firing of the musket beautifully. I too found that after photographing birds…..you are much better with timing. I don’t have photoshop. I have its little version called Pixelmator and I’m pleased with it. I like bringing up the shadows and enhance mode. It would be pretty cool though to merge photos like you said.

    I’m sending this along to my daughter in law who just got a new camera. She’s going to take classes at the NC School of the Arts at their Sawtooth center. She’s already got an eye for it and now she just needs to know the technique.

  19. Catherine says:

    You took great pictures. I could really see the difference in the two with and without the HDR. I can’t to see the pictures from the gardens!

  20. jakesprinter says:

    Great entry my friend i love all of it 🙂

  21. lula says:

    Fantastic shots!!!! I love the first image, but all are real treats both for the subject (I love snowed landscapes) and technique. I find HDR very specific, and you have succeeded here.

  22. You have some interesting places to photograph near you. These are wonderful shots–illustrating the landscape and history and winter. You inspire me to go to other locations and photograph…perhaps I will…

  23. Amazing photos Donna! I am also glad you shared the HDR tips with us

  24. What a great collection of images Donna. I particularly like the barrels, and the way that your shot of the fort with the cannon in the foreground has an “etching” quality about it somehow. Impressive capture of the musket firing, I’m sure you are right, your time spent photographing birds has paid off. Hope you make some friends in your group.

  25. I loved this series, especially the buildings. So much history!

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