Best Locations in the Manassas National Battlefield Park for Photography

Updated on October 25, 2016
Near the main entrance are a series of cannons and wagons.  The old house in the background is an important feature in the movie they play inside.  If you look closely, you can see it in the foggy distance.
Near the main entrance are a series of cannons and wagons. The old house in the background is an important feature in the movie they play inside. If you look closely, you can see it in the foggy distance. | Source

Manassas Battlefield

The Manassas Battlefield is a fantastic place for photographers. It is packed with hiking trails, streams, fields, forests, cliffs, bridges, and homesteads that have survived since the first and second battles.

The park is huge, with more than 10 miles of trails and is located an easy, 30 minute drive west of Washington D.C.

This battlefield is not covered in monuments like Gettysburg, but there are a few scattered throughout the area. It is really designed to invite visitors to enjoy nature while learning a bit about the terrible battles that took place here during the Civil War.

With the diversity of the landscape and the varied buildings, cemeteries, and rustic fences, there is tremendous photography potential for the amateur and professional. Read on for some of my favorite places in the park to capture powerful and touching pictures.

A
Manassas National Battlefield Park:
Manassas National Battlefield Park, 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA 20109, USA

get directions

Visitor's Center

This area is the most popular, and if you are short on time, this is the place to go. It is located on the east side of highway 234, just north of Cracker Barrel.

The Visitor's Center has a nice movie that describes the battle and the importance of the various locations and buildings. An interactive display lets you see how the troops moved along the paths and there is an excellent display of artifacts. Of course, the gift shop is nice as well.

But, the great opportunities for photographs are outside! Step right outside the Visitor's Center and you have a huge field and the beginning of wonderful trails to explore.

Look closely and see the re-enactors walking north towards the Henry House.  Adding some of the volunteers into the shots really adds to the feel!
Look closely and see the re-enactors walking north towards the Henry House. Adding some of the volunteers into the shots really adds to the feel! | Source
The Stonewall Jackson statue is right behind the Visitor's Center.  You can see it in the background.  I enjoy taking photographs of the cannons in the foreground and an interesting item like the statue in the background.  Fog really helps!
The Stonewall Jackson statue is right behind the Visitor's Center. You can see it in the background. I enjoy taking photographs of the cannons in the foreground and an interesting item like the statue in the background. Fog really helps! | Source

Black and White Photography

I am not good at using photoshop, but it is extremely easy to convert shots into black and white. I don't do this often, but I find that it is appropriate when I want to capture the feeling of history and mourning. The picture below, which was taken right outside the Visitor's Center, was a good candidate for black and white. The wagons appear ready for battle, the fence in the background hints at the age of site, and the fog gives an atmospheric and mournful feel to the site.

I think that the shot brings the viewer into the battlefield and evokes a quiet and melancholy emotion. What do you think?

Foggy mornings are a great time to capture the cannons near the visitor's center.  I like converting these to black and white to really capture the quiet and peaceful feeling.
Foggy mornings are a great time to capture the cannons near the visitor's center. I like converting these to black and white to really capture the quiet and peaceful feeling. | Source

Silhouette

Stonewall Jackson's Statue is within a few hundred yards of the entrance to the park and is a very short walk from the car. On most days, it is hard to capture a good shot since the statue is much taller than the visitors and can only have the sky as the background.

Certainly, an HDR photograph could capture the detail of the horse and the General while not overexposing the sky, but I opted to take advantage of the deep purple-blue sky and tried to accentuate the silhouette altogether. I think it is a nice effect!

Stonewall Jackson's Statue is one of my favorites.  I like the silhouette created by the sun.  Changing the f-stop would create a sunburst effect.
Stonewall Jackson's Statue is one of my favorites. I like the silhouette created by the sun. Changing the f-stop would create a sunburst effect. | Source

Framing

During the early spring, cherry blossoms are showcased throughout the mid-Atlantic. Washington D.C. is famous for the Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Manassas Battlefield has its share of wonderful blooming trees.

There are plenty of opportunities to mix the beautiful floral displays with the hard and cold statues and memorials. I like mixing the two together in order to bring balance to the shot.

Early Spring at the Visitor's Center is a great opportunity to capture some of the blossoms on the trees with the backdrop of the memorials in the distance.
Early Spring at the Visitor's Center is a great opportunity to capture some of the blossoms on the trees with the backdrop of the memorials in the distance. | Source

Stuart's Hill Loop Trail

This is a fun hike that takes you behind the Park Headquarters on the western edge of the park. If you wanted one hike that "does it all," then start here. The short hike will take you through fields and forests, over several streams, and is perfect for hot days.

Watch closely on this hike. We found turtles and small fish in tiny pockets of water.

This is a wonderful mowed path by the headquarters building off of Route 29.  I love the leading line heading into the woods.
This is a wonderful mowed path by the headquarters building off of Route 29. I love the leading line heading into the woods. | Source
Hiking on the path
Hiking on the path | Source

Stone Bridge

This is a fantastic area for photography! The old stonework on the trusses, the rambling creek, and a fantastic boardwalk make this one of my favorite places in the entire park for photography.

I visited in the winter last year and found frozen waterfalls on the far bank. That made for some pretty dramatic shots!

Also, I highly recommend setting up on a tripod on the shady side of the bridge. The light coming through the arches underneath makes for a dramatic shot. If you come early in the morning in the spring or fall, there is a good chance that a light fog will add drama to the scenery.

Stone Bridge on a nice and quiet day.  Look at the other photo of the torrential flood during a storm in 2012.
Stone Bridge on a nice and quiet day. Look at the other photo of the torrential flood during a storm in 2012. | Source
Late in 2012, a powerful storm hit Northern Virginia.  Unlike most people, who hunkered down in their homes, we went to see what the tremendous rain did to Stone Bridge.  Forgive the quality.  This shot was taken with the iPhone.
Late in 2012, a powerful storm hit Northern Virginia. Unlike most people, who hunkered down in their homes, we went to see what the tremendous rain did to Stone Bridge. Forgive the quality. This shot was taken with the iPhone. | Source

Brawner Farm

This is a fun section of the battlefield, just a mile or so west of the Visitor's Center on the north side of Highway 29. There is plenty of parking.

This is my favorite area of the park for abstract photographs. Hike around the Brawner Farm Loop and you will spot many old and rusty farming tools in the field.

Near the Brawner Farm is a beautiful stand of trees.  I captured this shot at sunset.  I hope to find another evening when the fog will accentuate the sun rays.
Near the Brawner Farm is a beautiful stand of trees. I captured this shot at sunset. I hope to find another evening when the fog will accentuate the sun rays. | Source
There are a lot of antiquities and relics around Brawner Farm for those who like abstract photographs.  I keep thinking about how this piece ended up in the field.
There are a lot of antiquities and relics around Brawner Farm for those who like abstract photographs. I keep thinking about how this piece ended up in the field. | Source
More old farming tools left in the fields on the eastern side of Brawner Farm.  Take a hike on the Loop Trail to find plenty of antique tools.
More old farming tools left in the fields on the eastern side of Brawner Farm. Take a hike on the Loop Trail to find plenty of antique tools. | Source

Questions & Answers

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      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 years ago from Olympia, WA

        I am a Civil War nut and taught a unit about it in school for many years, so I was very excited when I was finally able to visit ten battle sites back in 1998...Manassas was one of them. Very exciting. Great to see your pictures; brought back memories.

      • GinnyLee profile imageAUTHOR

        Ginny 

        5 years ago from Arlington, VA

        Thanks randomcreative!

        Glimmer, I totally believe that about Stuart's Hill. We live in Haymarket and love the history. It is very easy to feel the presence of soldiers from the Civil War.

        Clover - I highly recommend visiting. It is a truly amazing place and I would be glad to show you around if you decided to visit.

      • cloverleaffarm profile image

        Healing Herbalist 

        5 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

        Great hub. I have wanted to go there for many years. Thanks for sharing such great information.

      • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

        Claudia Mitchell 

        5 years ago

        Awesome photos of a great place. I grew up in Arlington so we made many trips down to Manassas. My dad still swears he heard a voice while walking on Stuart's Hill. Thanks for the memories.

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 

        5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        Just gorgeous! You have presented so many great options here. Thanks. :)

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