Vietnam Wall Memories

When I was on my recent trip to Washington, D.C., I really wanted to return to this spot on the National Mall.  I have been to the area between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial just about every time I have been in D.C. in my life.  There is something beautiful, sad and sacred about this section for me.

I took my photos here after walking around the Mall for a few hours.  I wandered through the Vietnam Memorial, to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, then over around the Korean War Memorial and up the reflecting pool to the World War II Memorial.  I had never seen this before and I will have a finished photo from that monument sometime in the future.  My husband and I returned, walking silently down the side of the reflecting pool, bypassing the Vietnam Wall to get to the Lincoln Memorial.  We went in this time, and I muscled out some space for taking photos with my tripod (which is SO not allowed, but I didn’t get warned by a guard until near the end of my shooting.  Besides, there are no signs stating you can’t use tripods!).  Spent, we wandered slowly down the path to the Vietnam Wall, headed back to the car.  The sun was set and the feeling in the crowd was somber.  I pulled out my camera and tripod and set it up to see what images I would get.  This unknown man stepped up to the wall, searching, searching for a name… and seemingly found it.  He was frozen for a long while, long enough for me to catch a few exposures for this HDR.  The boy next to him was also frozen- perhaps in disbelief, perhaps in shock.  In the sea of moving people around these two men, they stood out, their emotions clear to see.

I had wanted to process this as an HDR, and I used Photomatix to do so with the 3 exposures.  The first time I had ghosting from the moving people, and I had to change the settings and redo the photo.  Thank god I did that, because this image came out great.  I double tone mapped this, which causes noise in just about any photo, but I wanted the slightly skewed look that it would produce.  I love the detail it created in the mans jeans as he knelt to read the names on the wall.  I also desaturated the photo a lot, which left the man with the only color in the photo.  I ended up completely desaturating it in the end, though, as it looked slightly better.  Once I removed the noise (thanks, Noiseware Professional) I started to adjust the contrast and such.  I decided at the last moment to put the image into Topaz Adjust to see what it had to offer… it has several detail-enhancing presets and I used one to really up the HDR look.  The resulting image has some almost anime-ish looks.  But the look on those two mens faces tells the story.

I wanted to get their ok to print this image, but in the end I just couldn’t approach them in their silence and sorrow.  I felt they needed their quiet moment.

This image is also posted to my website at  It is in the places gallery, along with other images from this photo walk and from recent trips.

You will also find this image on flickr, in the kelleybardphotography photostream.

Soon to be posted to as well.



About Kelley B.

I am a Durango, CO photographer who specializes in portraiture and wedding photography. My business is Kelley Bard Photography. You can find me around town, gardening, or on my website at View all posts by Kelley B.

3 responses to “Vietnam Wall Memories

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