A Spontaneous Trip to South Carolina

After unexpected life circumstances that will affect our travels for the rest of the year, as well as beyond, Bekki and I decided to make a last minute trip to South Carolina in early April to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  

After quickly searching the Charleston area on the web and Google Earth, it became clear to me that for this short trip, some nearby plantations and beaches would offer exceptional photographic opportunities.  Unfortunately, upon arriving, the light did not cooperate.  Clear, cloudless skies were dominant for our one week trip...For the foliage of the plantations, I would have preferred a soft overcast, but just ended up shooting in the morning and evening hours.  My three favorite images were all made in total shadow after sunset.  

One of the subjects on this trip that seemed to always attract my lens everywhere we went was the amazing live oak trees.  These giants made exceptional components to compositions with their enormous trunks and limbs gnarled by the passing of time.  One tree at Boone Hall Plantation was thought to be around 600 years old!  Every plantation we visited offered abundant opportunities to photograph these living wonders.  At times, it actually became overwhelming to me, picking just a few live oak compositions during the narrow windows of light at sunrise and sunset.  Many of the area plantations open to the public after sunrise and close before sunset.  Thankfully, I was able to stay on the grounds of Magnolia Plantation until past sunset.

Even with the variety of abundant subjects in and around Charleston, to me, Botany Bay Plantation was still a true standout.  As we approached the entrance area, the oaks form a mystical tunnel effect over the road.  I tried to make an image of the tunnel with evening light, but ended up returning to reshoot the scene in total shadow.  Inside the management area, a trailhead marks the beginning of a short trail that leads through an estuary to one of the most unique beaches I've visited.  Botany Bay Beach is covered with the skeletons of trees from a forest being taking by the rising tides.  I didn't end up making an image of this beach...spent a few relaxing hours walking the sand in and around the trees as the tide came in and eventually kept us in a thin margin between the forest and ocean.  This was my favorite time of the trip!

I'm always looking for a lighthouse anytime I'm near a beach.  A trail on the north end of Folly Beach leads to distant views of Morris Island Lighthouse along with the entrance to Charleston Harbor in the background.  I made several images of the light around sunset, but ended up preferring the scene in total shadow due to the the contrast between the blue cast and red lighthouse along with the "smoothness" of the ocean waves due to the 30 second exposure.

We were very thankful to have an opportunity to see this region of the country that is both rich in natural beauty as well as historic importance.


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