Steampunk at the Fort Washington

At the beginning of October, I got the chance to do a steampunk photoshoot with Nerdenheim Jen at Fort Washington National Park.   The only downside is that it was raining that morning.

Fort Washington NP, is located in Maryland along the Potomac River, and is the site of fort built in 1842. It was the only defense for the US capital until the Civil War.  The fort is very well maintained and has several of the original structures from the 1840’s. It also has concrete structures and embattlements from World War I and World War II.    All this makes it an excellent location for a photo shoot and has both outdoor and indoor areas.

For this shoot, I had to obtain a permit from the National Park Service, because I was using a model and lighting equipment.  For the shoot I used the following equipment: Canon 70D, 18-200mm lens, Yong Nuo radio triggers, speed-light, painters pole, 2 large golf rain umbrellas, camera rain cover, gallon sized Ziploc bag, and an assistant.  I used the 60-inch diameter rain umbrellas to keep the model dry while moving around the site. I used the Ziploc bag to protect the flash and radio trigger, which were mounted on the painters pole that my assistant held.  I did not use a standard light stand for this shoot, because it was windy and rainy, thus making a free standing light stand unwieldly.    I used an ISO of 400, a focal length between 18 – 28mm, an aperture of f5, and a shutter speed between 1/80s to 1/320s with the most common speed being 1/100s.

I love the location of Fort Washington because it lends itself to many different photo concepts. It also has several unique photo locations from ramparts, staircases, southern style porches, cellars, and interesting doors.  My concept for this shoot was to approach it like a fashion shoot or a magazine editorial shoot that highlights the outfit and steampunk theme.  Since it was raining at the beginning of the shoot, we were originally limited to areas that provided cover from the elements. However, this led to some interesting pictures inside the fort and in the old jail cells.  As the rain cleared, we were left with a stormy looking sky and were able to go up to the ramparts at the top of the fort.  We also did a costume change during this shoot, which I haven’t been able to do before.  My favorite photos from after the costume change were when we headed down to the old concrete embattlements. In this area, we were able to put the river in the background of some of the shots and do some post-apocalyptic looking shots.

When I edited the photos from this session, I let the feeling of the photo guide me in the editing process. I also was looking to be able to tell a story with the photos to be able to build a strong series. During the editing process I leaned towards darker images, and an antique look, especially for the green dress.


While for the red dress I ended up doing some traditional fashion edits and then going for the apocalyptic look for the photos around the concrete embattlement.   

Overall, I’m very happy with how this shoot turned out, and Nerdenheim Jen was very happy with the photos. It is always nice to hear from your models they can’t narrow down there choices to just 10 images.  You can see all the images from the session here.


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