Tag: slavery

Blog Posts

Slave Dwelling Places

In a previous post, I mentioned that living in Northern Virginia gave me a great opportunity to review and photograph places, monuments, buildings etc. that had a connection to the American War of the Rebellion or as it is commonly known the Civil War. It should be clear to anyone who studies American history that this war was a result of the evil of slavery perpetrated on African people. This blog will not retrace the history of slavery in America; however, I do hope to use photography to share historical sites related to slavery that I find photogenic. In this blog post, I am displaying photographs of two buildings that were the homes of former slaves. These properties are in various stages of preservation. I have some other sites planned for future posts.

These photos were shot with the intention to take advantage of the HDR effect available in Adobe Lightroom. The subsequent photos were edited further in Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop utilizing the Patch Tool to remove some unwanted distractions. As I am working to become a better photographer and I think these photos are an improvement in my attempts at HDR. Hopefully as time goes on I will continue to improve my skills as a photographer with both the camera and the digital editing tools that are available.

The first photo is that of the Settle-Dean Cabin. This home has been moved approximately 100 meters from its original location due to the building of a large subdivision in Loudoun County. An agreement was made with the developer to move and restore the cabin rather that demolish it to make room for a suburban home. This would not have been done without the herculean efforts of a couple of passionate African Americans with strong ties to this area. You can read more about the cabin by clicking the link below.



This is an image from the front of the cabin. It was shot at sunset and is the result of merging 4 images in Adobe Lightroom.

 Settle-Dean Cabin at sunset

The next view is taken from a side perspective also shot at sunset and it was based on 7 images HDR merged in Adobe Lightroom.

 Settle-Dean Cabin at sunset

I also had the opportunity to visit the former site of the Lewis Farm in Loudoun County and see a presentation on the Slave Dwelling that is located there. This property is now owned by Loudoun County and is managed by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services. There is an effort under way to raise the necessary funds to restore and preserve this building. We were told during the presentation that up to 32 slaves lived in this dwelling place at a time! As you can see it is not a large building. You can read about this property by clicking on the link below.



The first photo is a view from the side of the dwelling. These photos were taken around noon on a very bright day. This one is the HDR result of 2 images merged in Adobe Photoshop and then edited in Adobe Photoshop with the Patch Tool to remove some unwanted distractions.

 Slave Dwelling on Lewis Farm

The next photo was taken from the rear of the building and you can clearly see the supports that have been installed to protect the building from collapsing. This photo is also a 2 image HDR merge in Adobe Photoshop.

Slave Dwelling on Lewis Farm 

I hope you enjoyed viewing these photos and hopefully you gave some thought to the former slaves and their children who lived in them. Please come back to visit www.Cestlavie4me.wordpress.com in the future for more photos on my journey to become a better photographer.



Blog Posts


As I have reflected on before in this blog, finding a photographic genre for me to concentrate on has been difficult. This is probably an issue that other readers of this blog have also struggled with from time to time. A conclusion that I came to in a previous post is that you should photograph what you enjoy and not worry about labels.

In the past, I thought real photography had to be done with a legitimate camera. In the last couple of months, I have concluded that this is another harbored fallacy on my part about photography. You can take interesting pictures with just about any camera and that includes, smartphones, tablets and whatever else has a photographic sensor!

On a recent trip around the country I took many pictures with my Canon equipment but I also took some good photos with my old and outdated smartphone! Just this past weekend, my wife and I attended a ceremony to commemorate a black slave cemetery on the former Belmont Plantation site here in Loudoun County, Virginia. I did not have my camera with me, but I did have my smartphone. Fortunately, I was able to take several photos of this event that I am sharing with you in this post. This has allowed me to be somewhat of a photojournalist and to use this as a means of informing and educating people on a topic that concerns American history! Admittedly a sad and tragic period of history but one that needs to be understood.

The cemetery sits in the woods near a busy traffic intersection that is undergoing extensive construction. The event itself was to honor those deceased slaves and not protest construction, but to make sure that the construction does not violate the cemetery! We were given name tags to wear of the slaves who had once lived on that plantation. I received the name tag of a slave by the name of Jesse. The procession then walked across the road to the cemetery under police protection from the traffic. A program was then held in a clearing near the cemetery. One of the photos shows the color guard and the actual cemetery is directly behind them.

As for the photos, I can see that a different angle and perspective would have greatly improved these photos. When I get another opportunity to photograph an event I need to move around more. I tried to tell a story with these photos and perhaps I did. In any event, my goal will be to tell a better story in photos on my next attempt. Some of the readers of this blog have probably made the same mistakes and hopefully have improved in their photojournalism since then. At least I have another photographic genre to keep me occupied.

Here is a newspaper article about the commemoration event:


Enjoy the photos!

The Historian







Blog Posts

Cane River National Heritage Area

This past April, my wife and I went on a genealogy road trip. My portion of the trip took me to my ancestral home in the State of Louisiana. One of the many historical areas we visited was the Cane River National Heritage Region.  This region is famous for its creole heritage and the home of many plantations that were founded upon slave labor when Louisiana was part of the French Empire.  If you would like more information on this region, visit this link http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Cane+River+Creoles+of+Color&FORM=RESTAB .

I want to discuss my photographic journey as stated in the launch of this blog. One of the things that have kept me busy has been learning the ins and outs of Lightroom 5 and recently version 6. Most of the photos in the Cane River Gallery were edited with Lightroom 6. It seems that I am finally getting a better for feel for using this powerful tool.  I have been using videos on Adobe’s site as well as YouTube and one purchased online web class and finally it is coming together for me. I wonder how many of you aspiring photographers have struggled to learn Lightroom. I haven’t even given learning Photoshop a moments attention!

As for these photos, a key technique that I failed to grasp was making sure to use a shutter speed high enough to avoid camera shake and fuzzy or non-sharp photos. All of these photos were shot handheld and on several the focus suffered from a slow shutter speed. Take photo shot inside the Magnolia Plantation Store at ISO 1600, 24mm, 1/6 second @f4.0. Handholding at 1/6 of a second is a bad idea. This photo suffers from a lack of sharpness.  I also could have helped myself if I had carried my camera bag with the speedlite inside, but I didn’t!

The photo of the Cotton Gin was one of my favorites of this trip for many reasons. It was obviously outdoors and shot at ISO 100, 24mm, 1/13 second @f18. The picture would have been significantly better with a different combination of shutter and aperture when handholding. The next photo is the machinery inside the cotton gin building.  It is very old and dusty and the interior was dark. I shot this at ISO 400, 28mm, 1/6 second @f4.0. Again this is too slow a shutter for handholding and needless to say I missed my speedlite!

Another photo that suffered from this slow shutter malady was of Cane River Lake.  I actually got down on my knees to shoot thru the foliage in the foreground. Again, the photo lacks sharpness primarily due to a slow shutter when handholding the camera. This was shot at ISO 100, 33mm, 1/15 second @f16.

I think the other pictures came out much better. What is your opinion? By the way, my camera is a Canon Rebel t3 with a Canon 24-70mm L series lens (the good stuff). Hopefully, my next post will feature some improved photos. Let’s see how I progress, afterall, c’est la vie 4 me.