Civil War Reenactments Photographed with a Large Format Pinhole Camera


To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, photographer Michael Falco is shooting a project titled “Civil War 150 Pinhole Project.” His goal is to highlight the haunting beauty of civil war battlefields and to chronicle the various battle reenactments that are happening all across the country. To do so, he’s using large format pinhole cameras that gives the poetic images an old fashioned look.

To capture the battles from a soldier’s perspective, Falco first does careful research and planning regarding the terrain, line of sight, and tactical considerations. He writes that even 150 years later, it’s possible “to stand on these fields and see for yourself and feel for yourself the power and terror of those events in the 1860s.” Those feelings are part of what he attempts to capture with his pinhole shots.

Falco’s pinhole camera also captures the reenactments in a dreamlike way, using its blurry aesthetic to give anonymity to the re-enactors involved in the scene. The images are about the battles rather than the individuals — Falco himself was “embedded” with the troops, offering a perspective of what it was like to be a 19th century photographer on the battlefields.














The project will eventually cover all the major battles in the Civil War, following along with the war’s timeline. It will be completed at Appomattox, Virginia in April 2015. It’s already drumming up a good deal of interest, though — though it’s still young, the project has already been recognized by the Library of Congress and is now part of the National Archive.

You can find out more about the project over on its website, and see more of these gorgeous photographs in the gallery.

Image credits: Photographs by Michael Falco/Civil War 150 Pinhole Project and used with permission

  • Seth Reddington

    Truly beautiful stuff here. Well done

  • junyo

    As much as I have criticized some of the personal projects I’ve seen, this strikes me as a really well thought out concept and execution.

  • facebook-60700799

    This is beautiful. What a great idea to capture it this way. They look the most artistic, unearthed, photos never seen from the Civil War.

  • Meat Snack

    this is awesome. such great work. i am a photographer and a reenactor. i can’t tell you how much fun this hobby is.

  • Steve

    These don’t look like pinhole photos. They look too sharp, there’s no vignetting and non of the blemishes you usually see with a pinhole. Is it a lens with a tiny aperture or an ND filter?

  • Forest Photography


  • MacNeill_Photography

    Could be a good or even great pinhole panel. Powerful images.

  • Stefan

    Sharpness is related to format size, 35mm will be blurrier than medium and large format and pinhole size and quality. Vignetting is linked to focal length, at ultra-wide there is a lot of vignetting and the more you approach normal you get less. Other flaws and blemishes can be attributed to light leaks, sloppy processing, diy negatives and other. All the above have their charm and place but obviously not what this artist had in mind.

  • Steve

    I’ll have to look in to this, I’ve used lots of pinhole cameras, up to 5×4 film size but never got photos as sharp. Still don’t think the photo looking towards the sun looks 100% pinhole.

  • flightofbooks

    “I can’t make a pinhole of this quality so it must be fake” is all I can take away from your posts