Facing Down the Tower by Todd Henson


Facing Down the Tower, one of 3 towers at Battery Mount Vernon.


Last week we saw an interesting perspective on one of the three batteries of Battery Mount Vernon, at Fort Hunt Park, Virginia, just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Today we take a look at one of three towers, each of which faces a battery.

As we learned last time, a battery is a platform to support a heavy gun. Battery Mount Vernon was home to three batteries supporting guns that faced the Potomac River, just south of Washington, D.C. The batteries are on the second floor, which is the top level of the structure, though the guns have long since been removed.

This tower rose to the second floor and faced the battery. As you can see there is a somewhat narrow opening at the top that faces the battery. The right hand side of the tower is also open, providing the light that lets us see inside the tower. The back and left side of each tower are solid, with no openings.

I don’t know exactly what these towers were used for and couldn’t find any information about them on the various displays around Fort Hunt. But I assume they had something to do with the batteries as there were three towers, each facing a battery. I wonder if perhaps they were used to raise ammunition from the ground to the level of the battery and the gun? Or were they used for the opposite purpose, quickly moving spent casings from the battery level to the ground? If anyone knows their purpose please let me know in the comments below.

An Eye to the Battery by Todd Henson

An Eye to the Battery. Fort Hunt Park, Virginia.

Walking the ruins of an old fort I was captured by the sight of an unblinking eye staring up at me, watching as I walked the walls. So I leaned through the railing, put my eye to my camera, and began photographing the eye. The image above is the result.

This is a view of one of the batteries of Battery Mount Vernon, located at Fort Hunt Park, Virginia. My father and I visited the park one morning and walked amongst the ruins. It had rained recently, and the rain water became the white of the eye in the image. The battery is the circular concrete platform that is the iris of the eye.

Battery Mount Vernon, completed in early 1898, was home to 3 heavy guns designed to protect Washington, D.C. from naval attack. Each of the guns, which could be raised to reach over the wall and lowered below the wall to protect the gun, was located atop a battery. The gun on this battery would have been facing the bottom of the image, towards the Potomac River.

In 1933 Fort Hunt became part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, a national park. Now we can visit these ruins, an eye to the past, pondering how different this area is today from what it once was.

An Eye to the Battery is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.

Cherry Blossom Trail - Washington, D.C. by Todd Henson

Cherry Blossom Trail - A path leading from the FDR Memorial towards the Tidal Basin.

It’s almost that time of year again, when the cherry blossoms bloom along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. Above is a photograph I created from a previous year. As you can see, it was on the tail end of peak bloom when the petals start falling, covering the ground, the trail, and the water of the Tidal Basin.

In this image we see a couple of National Park Service rangers walking down the trail from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial towards the trail along the Tidal Basin. I loved the placement of the rangers on the curved trail, both smiling, one looking towards the other, having a pleasant conversation as they walk. I loved all the scattered pink petals on the ground and on the two benches.

I created a number of frames, but this was my favorite. I do wish the orange construction cones hadn’t been placed along the pavement in the back of the image, but I could probably remove those in Photoshop if I chose to. It was a very overcast day, so there were no harsh hot spots or shadows.

Technical Details

Because it was overcast and I was hand holding and experimenting, I wanted a shutter speed fast enough to minimize the risk of blur caused by camera movement. So I set my ISO to 1600, giving me a shutter speed of 1/100 sec at an aperture of f/8. I used f/8 because I wanted a reasonable depth of field, and at 16 mm this worked very well. I love using my Nikon 16-35 mm lens when walking around town photographing these wider angle scenes.

To add a little punch and warmth to the color I often use a warming polarizer in scenes like this, with leaves or flowers as a major focus. The specific polarizer I like is my Singh-Ray LB “Lighter, Brighter” Warming Polarizer. Being a polarizer, it reduces any glare on the leaves and petals, which helps naturally add a bit of saturation to the color. And the warming aspect of this particular filter adds just a touch of warmth, something you could do in post-processing, but I enjoy being behind the camera more than the computer so I try to handle as much as I can in the field. That being said, I do still usually tweak various settings in post.

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