Lens-Artists Challenge #70 – Monochrome

“War is what happens when language fails.”

Margaret Atwood

Fort Sumter, half-mast flag


Last week, while hosting my brother and his girlfriend, we made a visit to nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired. The solemnity of the monument created a perfect opportunity for my response to Patti’s monochrome challenge.

BIG GUN, Fort Sumter


“Listen up. There’s no war that will end all wars.”

Haruki Murakami

While historians disagree on some of the causes, it is clear that slavery was a primary issue dividing the country. Ironically, the bricks of the fort were fired and its walls built by slaves – some bricks still house their fingerprints. Further, along with the Confederate soldiers, slaves fought in the fort’s defense during the Union onslaught. Imagine the stories these walls could tell.

Doorway and bricks, Fort Sumter


“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”

Ernest Hemingway

Because Fort Sumter protected the only entry to Charleston harbor (through which the south’s war supplies were delivered), it was attacked mercilessly. After a failed attack by sea, Union troops assaulted by land, reducing the fort mostly to rubble. Despite heavy damage Confederate troops refused to surrender. After 20 months of attack by land and sea, Union forces abandoned the effort and sent their men and ammunition to assist in the campaign against Richmond, Virginia. The Confederates finally evacuated the fort in February of 1865.

Civil War Cannon


“We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”

Jimmy Carter

Sounds valiant, doesn’t it – after all, everyone loves an underdog. In reality though, the Civil War was friend vs friend, brother vs brother, neighbor vs neighbor. There is no winner in such a war, perhaps not in any war. 150+ years after its end, it’s only in the recent past that we have begun to address the horror of slavery and the injustice of discrimination. 

harbor cannon, Fort Sumter


“There are perhaps many causes worth dying for, but to me, certainly, there are none worth killing for.”

Albert Dietrich

The partially restored fort is now a National Monument managed by the National Park Service. The only access is by boat via the one company allowed to dock there. There is a history museum at the point of departure and a park ranger on the boat as well as at the fort. There are tours at the site as well as a free, open-air lesson on the fort’s history. 

Boat to fort sumter


“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

John Steinbeck

The boat ride to the fort crosses Charleston Harbor, typically populated by large ships awaiting access, small fishing vessels and small sailboats. Gulls and pelicans soar overhead and dolphins can be seen along the way. For $23 visitors enjoy a 30 minute cruise each way, access to the museum, and an hour to meander through the fort with guides well-versed in its history. There are no restrictions on photography. 

Fort Sumter with sailboat through the window


“The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

As shown in my opening image, on the day of our visit the fort’s flag was flying at half-mast in honor of Senator Elijah Cummings’ passing.  How ironic that 150 years after those within Sumter’s walls fought to defend slavery, a black senator was being honored by its flag. No matter our politics, this was a moment to savor.

Many thanks to those who responded to my “Seeing Double” challenge. The variety of responses was wonderful; we enjoyed every one of them. Patti, Ann-Christine, Amy and I greatly appreciate your support and look forward to your Monochrome responses. To view and link to Patti’s original post, click here. And please remember to tag your post with our Lens-Artists tag.











110 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #70 – Monochrome

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  2. Hi, Tina. I imagine that at Fort Sumter the US flag is always at half-mast. As a non-American interested in your nation’s history, this is a site I’d like very much to visit.

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  4. Your quotes and the irony of the Cummings honor are telling. The sepia tone in your images and the subject brings to mind the work of Matthew Brady. They look as they could have been captured in that time. “The camera is the eye of history.” – Matthew Brady

  5. Thank you for the moving history lesson to go with your exceptional photo choices. You’re right, they are great objects for monochrome. I love the pop of color in the last one, nice touch!!

  6. The opening quote you chose just sums it all up. The monochrome shade seems so fitting, almost like the photos had been taken back then. Thanks for the history lesson and info about Fort Sumter as well! Nice positive color scene in the last photo.

  7. Beautiful images Tina. You’re right, removing the colour adds to the solemnity of the place and gives age and authenticity to the photographs. I love the contrast you’ve achieved in the last photo, like looking out of the past into today.

  8. Fort Sumter is a great place to connect to the theme this week – I like how you
    Opened with the flag shot –
    And then all these quotes on war…. hmmm
    Much to

  9. spectacular shots Tina….love all of the detail in each one…and the history lesson!!! ‘Sailing by’ is quite outstanding!!

  10. An excellent selection of monochromes, Tina! And an interesting subject that lends itself well to the monochrome treatment. Sometimes you need to get away from the distraction of color in order to focus on what’s really important, the story behind the pictures.

  11. What a moving and powerful set of quotes (plus imagery!).

    I don’t know much about the Civil War. Reading your piece really allowed me to frame it against current events.

    Thank you so much for the history lesson/ meditation.

    War is never simple. Divisiveness is so destructive.

  12. What a perfect post for me to discover a week before I leave for Charleston! I love the history lesson and the sobering quotes about war. How interesting that the flag was flying at half-mast in honor of Elijah Cummings. What a great idea to do this in monochrome. 🙂

  13. Very deep thoughts on war and man! Yes, war happens when language files, but then that happens because of the inability of humans to think humanly.
    Great monochromes for the week, I feel the forts and history perfectly go well with monochromes! Probably because we watched too many B&W historical movies? The new generation may not see this. 😀

  14. Excellence in monochrome …informative and vivid closeups…the camera lens sees more Thank you for the amazing information so to say..’in black and white’ best regards Tina Ji

  15. I love the way you interpreted the theme, Tina. A beautifully expressed and beautifully photographed post on the tragedy of war. I am hoping that we (as a nation) have learned these lessons about civil war, but I fear we haven’t. The quotes really resonate with me.

  16. It is a pity that, despite history, we continue to make the same terrible mistakes.
    In Spain we also had our civil war, my parents suffered it, which left us a dictatorship. Impressive photos to remember. Great post!

    • Thanks so much Ana. We do tend to know our own history better than others’ but I do remember reading about Spain’s Civil War. One wonders why we keep repeating the same mistakes 😢

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  19. A wonderfully thoughtful and thought provoking post, Tina. The quotes are as apt as they could possibly be, and monotone is the only possible way to illustrate them. 🙂 🙂

  20. The monochrome seems to capture the mood perfectly TIna. When will we ever learn that no one wins with wars of any kind.

  21. Such a powerful post, both in words and photos. It is well ended with Senator Elijah Cummings’s passing and was being honored by its flag. Yes “this was a moment to savor.”
    Thank you for the post, Tina.

  22. A piece of history well told, Tina. Both through images and words – as you say, a perfect choice for this challenge! And to us Europeans it meant a history lesson on a war we do not know much about. Love that you set sails too and let the vessel come through the thick walls!

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