Rock Center   |  September 20, 2012

Photog captures battlefield with Civil War era camera

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the bloodiest battle in American history, the battle of Antietam. Amid a battlefield full of re-enactors, photographer Richard Barnes commemorated the anniversary with a camera very much like those used during the Civil War.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> welcome back. years ago this week, september 17th , 1862 . it remains the bloodiest single day in u.s. military history . two days after the battle was over, photographer alexander gardner captured the first photos that americans had ever seen of their war dead. and people were appalled by what they saw. to mark this anniversary, another photographer, richard barnes went back to the battlefield and used a similar camera. we went along this time, joining him and thousand of re-enactors who gathered at the antietam battlefield outside sharpsville, maryland.

>> that way. that way. that way.

>> lincoln need to look right at me and hold absolutely still.

>> as you can see this camera looks different than the digital camera you are familiar with. one, 1,000,000.

>> my name is richard barns, i am a photographer, photographing battlefield. the difficulty foe y photographers faced during the war, they would have been dead if they had been on the field. their exposures were very long. 12 second. got to hold still for 12 second. when i say now. the important thing to remember about antietam, is 23,000 dead, wounded, or missing. confirmed 8,000 dead. never before on american soil have you had this many people killed at one time. i have discovered the people re-enacting the battles are extremely committed.

>> shall we quote mr. lincoln "a nation with little regard for its past will do nothing in the future to be remembered."

>> prersonally, i connect with history. important to be out here connecting with my personal history , include might family who fought for the union army .

>> forward march.

>> brady and gardner, were the first photo-journalists on this continent. this is the first battle ever on american soil that had been photographed. alexander gardner arrived two days after the battle was over. this trench, the sunken road was filled with confederate dead at the time. he did not photograph during the battle. technology at the time didn't allow him to do that. that's what i am doing, bringing to this in a contemporary sensibility. i think brady and gardner would think i am a modern version of themselves. it is easy to find a camera like this, you can pick them up on e-bay for nothing.

>> here we go, 12 second. starting right now.

>> you might see a car in the background of my photographs. because i am not interested in replicating the past, not interested in nosnostalgia, i'm interested in the slippage of time where the contemporary and 150 years ago, some how coalesce and combine and overlap. what's important for me is the details, these con,000 tedetails. this is a tarp. what i am trying to integrate into the photographs. this one came out really well. i need some smoke. and i think what it would have been look to be a civil war photographer. the stress that they were going through. i am happy that i am here photographing re-enactments and not the actual battles.

>>> with our thanks to richard barns and of course in memory of all those who lost their lives at antietam.