South Carolina Blog
“Swamp Palmetto Chorus”
After a smooth flight into Charlotte, NC, and a half decent night’s sleep, my friends and I rose up dark and early to begin my South Carolina adventure by spending time at the Congaree National Park.
Congaree National Park is a 26,692.6-acre American national park in central South Carolina, 18 miles southeast of the state capital, Columbia. The park preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.
We arrived approximately 37 minutes before sunrise so that I had plenty of time to set up, read maps and to get an idea of the “lay-of-the-land”. This was an easy task, as all we had to do was to hike along the boardwalk that snaked throughout the park.
Even though this park did not offer the most “dramatic” landscape I’ve seen, it was none of the less; quite intriguing and offered primordial scenes every where you looked. We spotted on a few occasions, wild hogs as they foraged the swamp looking for tasty morsels. They scampered briskly, so I could not get a clear shot (too bad, I love bacon-pun intended)!
I took more than a few photos before the sun came up, but I was waiting on it knowing that the sun will light up the area, producing long shadows and dappled light.
This photo highlights the Swamp/Dwarf Palmetto, that inundated the swamp surroundings and enabled me to come away with more than a few worth while photographs.
Note: Sabal minor, commonly known as the dwarf palmetto, is a small species of palm. It is native to the deep southeastern and south-central United States and northeastern Mexico. It is naturally found in a diversity of habitats, including maritime forests, swamps, floodplains, and occasionally on drier sites. It is often found growing in calcareous marl soil. Sabal minor is one of the most frost and cold tolerant among North American palms.
So much more to share as I chronologically process my photo journal of my time spent in the beautiful state of South Carolina.
After capturing various scenes at Congaree National Park, we headed back to the car to go home. But before we did, we had a pleasant conversation with one of the attendants. Part of the conversation was; “were ya’ll from” etc, and what plans did we have to accommodate my visitation. We told her that later in the day (sunset) we were going to head to Lake Marion/Santee Cooper to photograph Cypress Trees. At that time, she asked us if we had ever heard of Goodale State Park. Of course I didn’t, as it wasn’t on my research radar, but my friends did, they just hadn’t been there in awhile. She informed us that you can easily photograph the various Cypress Trees from the shoreline.
So, after chillin’ out, eat dinner, etc we changed plans, heeded her advice and drove out to this park. Needless to say, I am so glad that we did.
As you easily see in this photograph, the landscape that greeted us was primordial and a visual treat! I could not wait to get busy capturing as many different perspectives as possible!
In this capture, the clouds were quickly dissipating during the Golden Hour, creating a surreal contrast between light and shadow. The various reflections only adding more drama to an already drama drenched photograph.
I felt like a kid in a candy store as I gleefully engaged the shutter release on my camera as much as possible.
“Ethereal Song Of Misty Cypress”
Morning two found my friend and I returning to the beautifully mysterious landscape found at the Goodale SP, knowing that the sun would rise right behind the cypress trees, what we didn’t expect was the layer of wonderful mist that was created by the interaction of warm water and cool air. I was simply and gratefully amused by the sight of it! Joe, my fiend is an avid fisherman, so he brought his rod and reel along to do some bass fishing while I roamed up and down the shoreline to capture various perspectives.
This is one of the first ones I shot, and it’s two images stitched together that created this mini-panorama. The light, mist, reflections and striated dawn sky produced dramatic results; all I had to do was not get in the way and press the shutter button.
“Oak Tree Avenue Aria”
After chilling out enjoying some fantastic home cooking by Lori, we drove out to Edisto Beach, where we stayed at a timeshare condo located just a few minutes away from the beach.
After our first delicious Edisto Beach dinner, we headed out before the Golden Hour to the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area, where you drive on the entrance road to get to it. This dirt road is lined with a beautiful canopy of live oaks; Boneyard Beach is located here (photographed sunrise the next morning).
The Wildlife Management Area of Botany Bay Plantation is one of the most unique destinations on Edisto Island. The 4.000+ acre property boasts historical buildings, maritime forest, beach and fresh water ponds. Historically it was two plantations (Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud), that grew sea island cotton and timber. The property is covered in pine, palm and live oak trees, dripping with Spanish moss. Don’t be surprised to see deer, alligators, shore birds, crabs, raccoons and many other maritime forest creatures.
After setting up, I waited for the right moments to shoot due to the sun peaking in and out of the clouds above. Even though the captures when the sun was hiding were acceptable, it was when the sun shined through that made this spectacular road sparkle with beautiful dappled light.
Although this road has been photographed a million and one times, I wanted to add my vision to the already impressive collection of photographs! I am quite satisfied with my efforts.
When I finished processing the original color photo, it spoke to me in a very clear and loud voice: “Convert me to black and white!” Glad I listened.
“Edisto Beach Rubato”
Later the same day of my visit to Botany Bay, I took a short walk from the condo to the beach to photograph a sunset. The wind was howling, and I was concerned that some of the blowing sand would somehow find its way into my sensor. Fortunately, I did not happen!
I took a short walk around the beach, and came across this simple but adequate scene (which was repeated up and down the beach). I wanted to have perpendicular lines dominate the capture so I angled myself to the railroad tie structure to accomplish just that.
I had a lovely golden hour sunset sky to work with, as well as enough waves to make the overall composition interesting.
“Boneyard Beach Symphonic Rainbow”
I have written before about the challenge of photographing an area that has been shot a thousand and two times before without coming away with an image that is “just another capture” from that particular spot.
As I am one that welcomes a challenge, Boneyard Beach was on top of my list to photograph during my holiday in South Carolina.
So, another early rise was on tap (although we did not have far to drive as we were staying in Edisto Island) so that we can wait for the gate to open thirty minutes before sunrise, and then take an approximate quarter mile hike to reach the beachfront in a timely manner.
As we were walking, Sky Mother was brewing up another gem, this only hasten my gait to be at the right spot at the right time!
Once the path opened up to Boneyard Beach, I gasp for air at the sight that was in front of me!
My research suggested that I should turn left and head north up the coast. The tide was coming in making it a bit more challenging to find a clearing to photograph the various skeletal trees that were slightly submerged by the ocean. I found a path that helped me walk at a brisker and less obstructed pace; it eventually led me to an area that afforded me this view.
My objective was to document an ensemble of these ghostly trees, instead of singling out just one, (I did not noticed that opportunity where I was positioned) as the sky was evolving into a cauldron of colors while the ocean was churning all around me.
I was in photographers paradise!
I used my 6-stop neutral density filter so that I could achieve the longest possible exposure where the incoming waves would smooth out, thus giving an ethereal appearance to an already magical environment.
Once again, I believe my vision of Boneyard Beach ( and the others that follow), adds mightily to an already impressive portfolio of other photographer’s interpretations.
“Folly Beach Pier Sunrise Overture”
This capture (and others that will follow), almost didn’t happen. I write that because the weather forecast was gloomy, and at this point in the vacation, my butt was dragging due to being up at 4am every morning…
But, it would have made no sense not to go, since that this was also a major objective during my stay in South Carolina.
Also, I have been wanting to photograph a pier for quite some time, and Folly Beach Pier is as impressive a pier as they come! It would have been almost “criminal” not to go, so off we went, and lord and behold, this is what was awaiting me and my friends.
As we headed off on our @ hour’s drive, the sky began to break up, and put a huge smile on all of our faces!
We arrived during the blue hour, and I began to shoot almost immediately upon our arrival. The captures I photographed during that time offered a completely different vibe from this photo seen here, but they will be worth processing soon.
It wasn’t until the sun rose, when all the magic happened! The pier lit up, as did the ocean and sky that were around and above me.
I used my 6-stop ND filter again to get a longer shutter speed to give the incoming waves a more dramatic and surreal appearance, and it allow more color absorption into the raw file.
Needless to say, I would be kicking myself in the butt if I had not gone, and like I mentioned earlier; it would have made no sense at all not to have gone!
“Tacet At Edisto Marina” and “Dulcet Edisto Dawn”
The last evening and morning were spent shooting at the marina and the beach. My objective was to capture some moment-in-time images that represented my time spent at this most beautiful island.
We headed to the marina to photograph during the golden hour right up to sunset. The cloud seen here was used to fill in the sky, however it vanished before sunset, and I was not impressed with what I saw, image wise, so I decided not to photograph anymore. Incorporating the docked boat and the pier completed the story.
All in all, I was happy with the few captures that I did capture, so I had no problem packing up.
My last morning in Edisto, found me up at my usual vacation wake-up time, so I headed down to the beach to capture some quiet photographs of Edisto Beach. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, but that was not a problem as I used the various grasses, piers, and boardwalks to create useful and complete images that will bring back memories for years to come. The striations created in the sky were absolutely breathtaking, so having no clouds present did not create an obstacle whatsoever.
I also captured wonderful moonlit capture that will be shared soon. It was such peaceful morning that I took in with every deep breath. What a way to end my time here…
“Patriots Point Triad” and “Dolce Crossing”
Our last stop in my South Carolina excursion was to Charleston. This was my second time visiting, the last time being back in 2002.
We stayed at a quaint Bed & Breakfast in the heart of the city, and once we were checked in, we walked about taking in all the sights and sounds that this beautiful southern city had to offer. Afterwards we ate at a funky down-home southern barbecue joint for a delicious meal.
Before heading back to our B&B, we checked out Patriots Point, so that I could get a good feel of where I wanted to shoot from. We came back during the Golden Hour to properly document all the sights that were seen there.
For the US Yorktown capture, I stitched images together to create a panoramic image that included the decommissioned warship, the Ravenel Bridge and as a bonus, a sightseeing boat that had just docked.
It was lovely golden hour sky that bathe the landscape below in a glorious golden light; I was thrilled to photograph in it.
As the sun began to set, we headed off to two different vantage point to continue photograph the iconic and glorious looking Ravenel Bridge. This span was not there when I visited in 2002, so I was very excited to finally take a few swings at capturing it. This bridge does not take a bad photo, and the one seen here was just one of many, many images I shot of it. I didn’t know which one to process first, so I sort of flipped a coin and decided to start here.
To add even more interest to this capture, I incorporated the Palmetto Trees in the foreground as a compliment to the bridge and the incredible dusk sky above and behind it. I proudly can say, that my photographic vision will hold up against any other photos of this area.
What great memories were created during my stay with wonderful fiends and in a beautiful state!