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Civil War Trust

Winning Photos and Photographers

An Interview with Mike Talplacido

Mike Talplacido had two of his photos selected as winners within the 2012 Civil War Trust Photography Contest. In this interview we asked Mike about these winning photos, the gear that he likes to bring to the battlefield, and about his approach to Civil War battlefield photography. See all of the 2012 Civil War Trust Photography Contest Winners »

2nd Iowa at Shiloh
"The 2nd Iowa 150th" by Mike Talplacido

Civil War Trust: Tell us more about how you created this photo, “The 2nd Iowa 150th.”

Mike Talplacido:  I was lucky enough to travel to Tennessee for the 150th of Shiloh.  I like to have landscape shots with no people in the frame, so I arrived at the Hornet’s Nest at sunrise before the civil war buffs waiting for the hikes to begin.  I had a good hour to myself to walk through the Duncan Field area to shoot away and "The 2nd Iowa 150th" was one of the many I took that morning.

Civil War Trust: And what about your photo “Wauhatchie”?

Mike Talplacido: "Wauhatchie" was just a stroke of luck.  My family and I went to Lookout Mountain/Chickamauga over Spring-break and had just spent all day hiking up and down Lookout Mt.  We were on our way back to the hotel to relax and get some dinner when I looked out the car window at a red light and saw the sign.  I grabbed the camera and snapped off a frame before the light turned green.

Wauahatchie"Wauhatchie" by Mike Talplacido

Civil War Trust:  Have you photographed many other Civil War battlefields?  What are some of your favorites?

Mike Talplacido: I have been to all of the five original National Military Parks and a hand full of State Parks/Historic sites, mostly west of the Appalachians.  I enjoy photographing all sites, but if I had to choose, I would say Shiloh and Antietam.  Their landscapes seemed relatively unchanged from 1862.

Civil War Trust:  What sort of photographic equipment do you like to bring to the battlefields?

Mike Talplacido: When I visit a park I will bring all of my gear with me so I am prepared for any situation. I have a Black Rapid kit that allows me to strap two cameras with me.  I'll carry one with my Sigma 10-20 wide angle and the other with some sort of zoom.

My current gear; Nikon D300, Nikon D80, Sigma 10-20, Sigma 150-500 OS, Sigma 24-70 2.8, Nikkor 85 1.8, Nikkor 35 1.8, Nikkor 18-135.

Civil War Trust:  Mike, share with us some of your secrets on how to take great photos at Civil War battlefields and other sites.

Mike Talplacido: The only secrets or advice I could give would be to plan your visit with photography in mind.  Know which monuments, structures or sites will have optimal light in the morning and sunset. Those times are when the best shots can be made. For example, sunrise over the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing is nothing short of spectacular.

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