Ft. Hunt, which us about three miles north of Mt. Vernon on the GW Parkway, has an interesting history, from its construction during the Spanish American War and its role in the coastal defenses through World War I, and then as a POW camp during World War II. Ft. Hunt is now a park run by the NPS, known locally for its picnic and playing grounds, but what interests me the most are the remnants of the coastal gun batteries that were once installed there. I go through Ft. Hunt at least once a week, usually on my bicycle, but a couple of weeks ago I returned with my camera to explore the gun batteries some more with a photo friend from my work days, Mike Fleckenstein. We had tried for several weeks to get a weekend morning with a clear sky and bright sun in order to have the play of shadows and light on the poured concrete structures, but after several delays, we finally decided to go and take some pictures despite the predicted overcast .
We wound up spending the majority of our time at Battery Porter (named after a Lt. Porter, who died with Custer at the Little Big Horn). While arguably the smallest battery, Battery Porter provided some interesting shooting. The shot in today’s post shows the stairs leading from the ground level bunkers to the platform level that, at one time, supported a long range coastal gun.
When this scene was recorded, we were dealing with a bright overcast, which gave some dimensionality to the concrete shapes. This image was shot as a 3-image bracket, and then processed as an HDR image, in order to assure that I would be able to retain the detail in the shadow areas without blowing out the highlights toward the top of the stairs. The basic HDR image was generated in Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 using the normal/realistic/natural settings and no other adjustments. Given the monotone nature of the concrete, I decided the image should be black and white, and did the conversion in Silver Efex Pro 2, where I used Nik control points to darken the wall on the right of the image, and the concrete floor at the base of the stairs. I then used a series of control points to manage the transition from dark to light on the back wall following the ascent of the stairs.
I took several more photos there, but none that I am satisfied with. I find these structures at Ft. Hunt very interesting, but they have been a challenge for me to describe photographically. Fortunately, Ft. Hunt is nearby. I need to spend more time there ….