For many years I have struggled with how I would depict the famous Chickamauga Battlefield in my Tennessee River book. No doubt those rolling fields of grasslands are beautiful, but that doesn’t say “battlefield.” And from my vantage point above, those cannons look so small they are not workable as subject matter for an aerial photo.
It wasn’t until one evening in early spring that I finally got the shot I needed. On top of a hill is a tall stone tower, Wilder Tower, where people can climb to get a better view of the Battlefield.
After many years and dozens of flights passing by Wilder Tower, I never saw a shot worthy of my camera’s attention. Either the place looked deserted or the lighting and colors didn’t excite me. As luck would have it, this flight was very different.
Looking down I noticed a lot of activity with adults and kids having fun. At the top of Wilder Tower were several people and some wearing orange sweaters waving as I went by. Because the trees hadn’t yet bloomed completely out, it allowed the clusters of monuments on the ground below to be easily visible.
Although all the people and monuments made for very interesting subject matter, what really made the shot work as a satisfying composition was the low, glancing rays of late evening sun light. The back lighting of the freshly born leaves set the whole scene aglow while the long shadows on the ground gave the finishing touch.
As I retracted the flaps and accelerated back to cruising speed after finishing the shot, I got to thinking how long it would take one of friends to accuse me of posing professional models with orange shirts in the tower.