Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina is a place I could spend years photographing and never feel satisfied.  Tucked along the coastline, this city is one of the oldest on the East Coast, with many historical markers to remind you.  The buildings are older, and a person can find themselves riding on a horse drawn carriage across cobblestone streets though the older parts of the city.

I actually came to the city for completely different reasons, and since I have seen the classic downtown before, I decided to explore some of the older wildlife areas around.  Many of the tourists in Charleston choose to go to Folly Beach because of its close proximity to Charleston, however located slightly south is the preserved Edisto Island.  One of the many places to photograph include the well preserved Botany Bay which can be accessed just before Edisto Island.  The place has odd hours and days open, so I suggest checking out the park hours ahead of time to make sure you can get in.  Wonderful ‘tree tunnels’ pave the way to the gate at Botany Bay.

Tree Tunnel
A ‘tree tunnel’ leading the way to Botany Bay in South Carolina. ©Dan Whittaker

Once inside the park, a short but sandy drive leads you to the entrance of the shoreline.  A path leads across a bog area and through the trees until it eventually stops at the ocean where a ‘skeleton coastline’ can be observed.  The name skeleton coastline comes from the large amount of dead, skeleton-like trees that stand in the shallow water by the waves.  This allows for a lot of wonderful photography opportunities, including shooting long exposures of the moving water to create a silky effect, and isolating the trees to accentuate the shape and bend of the branches.  This was my first time photographing these trees and unfortunately the sunset was not on my side this day.  I was only provided with a few minutes of sun and color before the clouds took over, which only allowed me enough time to capture one well lit image.  I scrambled and quickly walked down the shore to find the right tree, and eventually found one that I really liked the shape of and the sun was hitting it from the front.

Skeleton Tree
A ‘skeleton tree’ sits on the South Carolina shore during sunset at Botany Bay. ©Dan Whittaker

After Botany Bay, I decided to spend the night at one of the primitive camping areas along the Edisto shore.  With the calm salty sound on my left and the murmuring ocean on my right, I set up my tent and got ready for a night of quietness.  After a good sleep, I made my way to a few places of old forest growth areas the next day, but the highlight turned out to be the Angel Oak Tree located close to Charleston.  This living tree has an estimated age of over 1500 years, and it seems that old in person.  The tree limbs bend and curve, stretching across the ground many feet beyond the tree base.  Vegetation and mini ecosystems cover most of the branches of the tree, and its large crown can be seen from a distance away.

Angel Oak Tree
The Angel Oak Tree near Charleston is estimated to be over 1500 years old. ©Dan Whittaker 

I spent a few hours photographing this tree, capturing it from all angles.  Unfortunately, I had to try to avoid a few signs and buildings in the background which proved difficult.  I captured enough pictures of this tree to edit its bendy branches for years, but in the end I liked this shot because it shows the interesting shape of the branches as well as the crown of the tree.  To edit the shot, I stitched 7 images together which I captured to create a panorama.  Then, I spent some time removing a few human artifacts in the photo, leaving only the tree which I added some basic saturation and contrast adjustments.  I have many more area to explore along that part of the South Carolina coast, but at least this trip knocked a few off the list for now.


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