New Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
This bridge, the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere, links Charleston with the neighboring town of Mt. Pleasant via US Route 17. The bridge is two miles long, and spans more than 1,500 feet of the Cooper River. Opened in 2005, its diamond shaped towers soar 186 feet above the river. It has eight lanes, four in each direction, plus a 12-foot wide bicycle and pedestrian path. It was built to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. I travelled its length several times, and this image, made through the front window of a moving car, best captures its striking design. I converted the image from color to black and white to accentuate the rhythmic patterns of the wires and silver clad towers, contrasting them to the rain clouds that fill the sky beyond.
Fort Sumter Ferry, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Designed to resemble a paddlewheel steamboat, this ferry is the only way to visit historic Fort Sumter from Charleston. I abstract the scene, including part of the circular paddlewheel casing and featuring the silhouettes of four passengers standing on the ferry’s covered upper deck. The first shots of the American Civil War were fired upon Fort Sumter at 4:30 am on April 12, 1861, as South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. Charleston residents, sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the start of hostilities, watched the bombardment. The Confederate guns overwhelmed the Union soldiers in Fort Sumter, who offered only token resistance. Captain Abner Doubleday, who later was said to have “invented baseball,” was given the honor of firing the Union’s first shot. He missed.
Harbor light, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
A brilliant light, marking the entrance to Charleston harbor, incongruously soars over the city’s modest skyline. I made this image from the Fort Sumter ferry in mid-morning, yet the featured light tower, complemented by the textures of the water and the deep blue sky overhead, seems to suggest a much earlier time of day. The lack of contemporary skyscrapers reflects not only Charleston’s efforts to preserve the character of its historic past, but also the toll that the city’s economic challenges have taken over the years. Two devastating sieges, a major earthquake, and a destructive hurricane have shaped the appearance of the present day city.
Touring Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Named after Revolutionary War hero General Thomas Sumter, this fort was built following the War of 1812 as one of a series of fortifications along the southern US coast. Construction began in 1829, and the fort was still unfinished when the American Civil War began with an attack on these very walls. The fort was virtually destroyed, but has been rebuilt according to its original specifications. In this scene, children view the 100-pounder “Parrott Rifles” that were installed here after the Civil War. A massive concrete blockhouse was also built inside Fort Sumter’s original walls in 1898 to protect Charleston during the Spanish-American War. It never saw combat. I composed this image to compare the innocent curiosity of the visiting children to the massive cannons surrounding them.
Shadows of the past, Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I caught this tourist studying a US National Park Service brochure on Fort Sumter while resting a heel against once of the fort’s original brick interior walls. He stands at the corner of the wall; a diagonal shadow leads the eye to him and then vanishes into the gloom of the corridor at left. The silhouettes of other tourists walking within that corridor suggest the palpable presence of the past that haunts Sumter’s galleries.
Gun port, Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
An orange gun port creates a striking color contrast to the purple gun carriage, presumably the very same colors that were displayed here during the Siege of Fort Sumter in April 1861. Such vivid colors seem almost whimsical when viewed in the context of deadly combat. The original cannons defending Fort Sumter were scavenged by the victorious Confederate army following the Fort’s surrender. This 100-pounder Parrot rifle was installed following the Civil War, but it never saw combat.
Civil War detail, Fort Sumter National Monument, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Standing in the very place where the Civil War began, I moved in on the spot where a Union army gun carriage supports its cannon . My image uses a close up vantage point, extracting light, detail, texture, and color to express the brutal mechanics of war itself, as well as the inexorable passage of time. I intended to make a photo of something very small that represents something very large – in this case, the tragic collision between North and South more than 150 years ago.
Aircraft Carrier Yorktown, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, 2013
The Yorktown, built during World War II, replaced its namesake that was lost at the historic Battle of Midway in 1942. It earned eleven battle stars in World War II, launching air strikes on Tarawa, Makin, Kwajalein, Truk, Saipan, Guam, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and Japan. It later served during the Vietnam War, and as the recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission. It went out of service in the 70s and is now a National Historic Landmark museum ship at Patriot’s Point in Mt. Pleasant. I made this photograph from the deck of the Fort Sumter ferry, comparing the mighty aircraft carrier to the pleasure boats moored in front of it. The scale incongruity is striking, while the masts of the boats in the foreground echo the vertical thrusts of the jet fighters on the deck of the aircraft carrier, as well as its towering mast.
Southern charm, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
A large crystal chandelier hangs within a two-story hall of this museum. It might well have once hung in an elegant plantation house, witnessing both the rise and fall of the South’s cotton economy. Electric bulbs have replaced its candles, but its symbolic beauty remains. I photographed only part of the chandelier, organizing my image along a diagonal line flowing from the upper right to the lower left. I deliberately placed the softly focused Palmetto Palms, the symbol of South Carolina, in the background.
Revolutionary War Cannon, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013.
Unlike some museums, this museum welcomes photographers to photograph its exhibits. I made about twenty per cent of the images in this gallery in this museum and in the two historic Charleston houses in its care. The Charleston Museum, founded in 1773, is commonly regarded as “American’s First Museum.” Nowhere else in Charleston did I find as broad a range of historical subject matter as I did here. Among the earliest pieces in its collection is this cannon, one of the very few existing Revolutionary War cannons that were made in the colonies. (Ironically, most American armaments were made in England.) I moved in on the barrel here to stress the elegant engraving on its barrel. Much of the detail falls into soft focus, suggesting the passage of time. The image is dominated by the extravagant “US” proudly etched in brass. I framed the image so that the spear-like diagonal moves from upper right to lower left. It is only fitting that this cannon has ended its journey in Charleston, South Carolina. The city was the focal point of the American Revolution in the south. Charleston patriots protested the English taxation of tea by confiscating and hiding it. Charleston was twice the target of British attacks. One attack was turned back at Fort Moultrie. The other was a disaster – after a long siege, 8000 redcoats under Charles Cornwallis conquered and controlled the city until the end of the war.
Genteel lifestyle, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
This ornate fan, made of ivory and hand painted, made for a useful and elegant appliance in the humid Caroline climate during the 18th and 19th centuries. Metaphorical angels, lambs, cherubs, and classical figures express such values as virtue and refinement. Ironically, only yards away from the plantation mansions where such fans were in use, slaves labored in the fields in order to provide such luxuries as these.
Equine time, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I moved in on the face of a 19th century clock, emphasizing the insets representing what might be a prized race horse and its owner. My off to one side vantage point makes the horse larger than the person, and my selective focusing stresses the nature of time as the numerals get larger and sharper while racing around the dial. I converted the image to black and white to give the image a better sense of period.
Statue of Charity, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The Charleston Orphan House was built just after the Revolutionary War in 1794. The statue of “Charity,” was placed atop the buildings cupola in 1854. One arm held a torch, the other a child. The building was demolished in 1952. Only a portion of the statue survives, minus both torch and child. I photographed it from below, with window light illuminating the face, flowing robe, and the round pivot that once held both arm and torch aloft.
Fashion, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The Charleston Museum has a strong collection of low country textiles on display, including costumes, quilts, and needlework. Beginning in the early 19th century, Charleston became a prominent commercial and cultural center, and set the fashion for its region. These vintage fashionable hats create a triangle of primary colors displayed on and around an incongruously futuristic mannequin.
Dressmaker’s mannequin, Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
A prim and somewhat sad mannequin expresses the tone of its time. The fall of light and shadow on its face, as well as on the curtain behind it, creates an atmosphere of reflection. The blue eyes and red mouth add a touch of life to the scene.
Dreams of Grandeur, The Joseph Manigault House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Known as Charleston’s “Huguenot House,” this house was built by a wealthy rice planter in the early 19th century. A national historic landmark, it now belongs to the Charleston Museum. The Manigaults descended from French Huguenots who came to American to escape persecution in Europe. One of Charleston’s most graceful structures, its rooms have been restored to their original colors. In one of its upstairs rooms, a decomposing mirror reflects an elegant chandelier. I made this faded abstracted image of it as a reminder that all grandeur is fleeting. The faded colors and dream like blurring within this reflection suggests the passage of time itself.
Stairwell, The Joseph Manigault House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The central stairwell of the Manigault House holds a stunning spiral staircase. Instead of photographing the entire stairwell, I chose to limit my image to a single piece of original sculpture placed in one of the staircase windows. Using my spot meter, I darken the entire image except for the overcast sky, and allow the window light to softly fall on the window shutter. I processed the image in sepia tone to bring a vintage mood to the scene. The sculpture is that of a man with an axe, a symbol of both strength and power.
Toys, Manigault House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The stairs leading to the third floor of this historic house, as well as the third floor itself, is a work in progress. It is under renovation. A toy horse, some blocks, and a doll seated at a miniature tea table were placed at the foot of these stairs to symbolize the presence of the children who once lived here. I see this image as a bridge into the past. Today young children still play with toy animals, blocks, and tea sets. These somewhat primitive looking toys seem right at home on the rough unfinished original steps – a distant century laid bare.
Parade Ground, The Citadel -- the Military College of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Founded in 1843, Citadel graduates have fought in every American war since the 1946 war with Mexico. The present campus was created 90 years ago. I moved below the World War II artillery piece mounted at one end of the Citadel’s parade ground, and used its diagonal thrust to draw a comparison to the flow of college buildings below it. The warm late afternoon light creates a perfect mood. I composed this photo as a time tunnel, drawing the viewer into the past. We see the school's buildings, designed as castles and caught between the sea of storm clouds overhead and the green grass parade ground below. By darkening the corners of the image, the tunnel effect becomes complete. A tiny flag stands alone in the breeze. The scene is deserted. Only the viewer is present here.
The People’s Building, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
This building was Charleston’s first “skyscraper,” erected in 1911 as the home of the People’s National Bank. Many residents saw it as a sign of “progress,” while others claimed it ruined the city’s historic skyline. Visitors came to it just to ride in its elevators. In 1936, the bank closed and was purchased by the Southeast Securities Company. To mark the transition, a pair of marble leopards was installed at its entrance. Carved in Italy, they were brought to Charleston from an estate near Boston. I photograph one of them with a 24mm wideangle lens, matching its pair of massive paws and heavily muscled legs with the gleaming pair of pillars in the background. I processed the image in black and white, which best expresses the beauty of the monochromatic subject matter. The building has recently been converted to luxury condos overlooking the entire city.
The Old Exchange, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Charlestown, the fourth largest, most beautiful, and wealthiest city in colonial America, earned its wealth in the shipping trade. Rice, indigo, and slaves created the powerful economy on which Charlestown was built. The most important building in the colonial city was the “Old Exchange,” originally known as “The Royal Exchange.” Built in 1772, it was here that import-export trade business was conducted. Assemblies met here as well. President George Washington visited the city in 1791, after it was renamed as Charleston. He made a speech from the building upon his arrival, and dances and concerts were held in his honor within the Exchange. From 1815 to 1896, it was Charleston’s post office. Only two notable colonial American buildings are older than the Old Exchange -- Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and Boston’s Faneuil Hall.
Yet darker stories are also told about this place. Both pirates and patriots in chains were imprisoned in the Provost Dungeons, which are in the basement of the building. For generations, slaves were sold next to the very balcony from which the Declaration of Independence was read. Gutted during the Civil War bombardment of Charleston, the building was rebuilt, only to be badly damaged once again by an earthquake in 1886. It now has been fully restored, and operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution as a museum.
My image of the Old Exchange is a reflection of its turbulent past. I photographed it from behind, trapped within a puddle. The abrasive cement street offers a rough and abstracting texture, symbolizing the turbulent swirl of history that has surrounded this building over the centuries.
Despair, Provost Dungeon, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Remnants of the Old Provost dungeon that once held pirates and soldiers captured during the American Revolution can still be visited in the basement of the Old Exchange, Charleston’s most important colonial building. Life sized period mannequins express a feeling of despair that almost certainly pervaded these premises in the mid to late 18th century. The prison pre-dates the Old Exchange Building. It was built upon the ruins of the original walled city of Charlestown. The dungeons are said to be haunted. In this image, two imprisoned pirates are commemorated in mannequin form, expressing the mood that characterizes such a place as this.
Heyward-Washington House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
This house, now owned and operated by the Charleston Museum, was built in 1772 by rice planter Daniel Heyward as a townhouse for his son, Thomas Heyward, Jr. Because the city rented it to host President George Washington during his weeklong visit to Charleston in 1791, it is now known as the Heyward-Washington House. Many of its original furnishing have been acquired by the museum and displayed in the house, including this lion sculpture that dominates a fireplace mantel below a portrait of George Washington. I photographed the lion from slightly behind, and moved in with a wideangle lens to emphasize its power and strength. The repeating rhythmic flow of the mantel itself, the base of the sculpture, as well as the molding behind it, work to strengthen the horizontal thrust of outstretched lion’s paw. I converted the image to black and white, creating monochromatic contrast underscoring the energy of the beast.
Original books, Heyward-Washington House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The most valuable original furnishing in the Heyward-Washington House is the priceless 1770 Chippendale-style Holmes Bookcase, considered by “Antiques Roadshow” experts as the “finest example of American-made furniture.” I did not want to describe the bookcase itself. Rather, I wanted to emphasize its function. The bookcase, which is in the Heyward-Washington House “Withdrawing Room,” is filled with leather-bound 18th century books. All of them are said to be original to the house. I moved in on some of those books, and photographed them stacked behind what is either a cracked pane of glass or a fortunate reflection implying great age. I finished the image in sepia, which adds a patina of time to the scene. This image is less about the bookcase, remarkable as it is, and more about the nature of what it has caring for over the last 250 years.
Railing, Old Market House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Charleston’s Old Market House was built in 1841 in the form of a Greek temple. It has stood at the front of the Charleston City Market until the present time. Charleston was the first state to secede from the Union in 1861, and many Southerners made their way to this building to volunteer as soldiers. After the war it became a Confederate Museum, run by the Daughters of the Confederacy. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside of this museum. However I was free to photograph the building’s nearly 175-year-old wrought iron stair railing. At the moment, the midday sun beautifully illuminated it, and the softly focused colors of neighboring flags mesh perfectly with the graceful curlicues of the historic and decorative ironwork.
Cooling off, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
What does Charleston feel like in the middle of a June afternoon? This image makes us experience its intense heat and stifling humidity. Both of these pedicab drivers are steering with one hand, as one cools off with ice cream and the other quaffs a cool drink. Even one of the passengers, luxuriating in deep shade, is downing a soda. I liked the way the driver’s blue shirts echoes the blue trim of the pedicabs. The old trolley car in the background adds a bit of vintage Charleston context to the image.
Anxiety, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I photographed this woman from across the street as she stood quietly on the pavement, patiently waiting before an array of Charleston tourism posters. She is most likely a visitor -- she does not seem at home in her surroundings. Her body language expresses vulnerability and anxiety as she clasps her hands tightly before her. The bulky vehicle breaking into the frame from the right increases the tension in this image. It seems to be bearing down on her.
Symmetry in the ruins, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I spent a morning shooting with a local photojournalist, who was also a tour guide. She took me to the ruins of an old building. It had no roof or floor, and its interior had been turned into a parking lot. Yet the character of Charleston’s past is expressed through the colors of the brick walls that still stand. An empty window frame holding a planter gave me an opportunity to create a symmetrical frame with a frame within a frame picture. The planter in the first layer is the key to the image. It tells us that people care very much about the appearance of this ruin. This wall is not left to decay – it is preserved as a token of Charleston’s past. A second layer frames the door of another reminder of Old Charleston.
Making room, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I build this image around the incongruous sight of a tree growing through a brick wall. The building is a ruin, yet preservationists have modified the wall so that nature can continue to have its way. I composed the image in layers, moving from the foreground carpeted with orange dead leaves to the middle ground featuring the wall, the mighty tree coming towards, and a planter set in an empty window. A pale blue building in the background completes the image.
The Garden, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Old Charleston was founded as an English colony in 1670 during the reign of King Charles II, at the height of a period known as the Restoration. Puritanism had lost its momentum, and the arts flourished. Charleston became one of America’s most culturally refined cities, and reminders of that time can still be found among the lavish gardens that embrace its historic townhouses. The image originally was dominated by the lush green color of the vegetation. I converted the color photograph to a somewhat faded sepia tone, aging the image in the process.
Just the way we might imagine it, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
A truly romantic ruin is a rare sight. Emblematic of the Old South, this gutted building turned into the stuff of Victorian dreams is about as close as we can get to one. The building itself is a shell of a 19th century brick garage, now used as a parking lot. Instead of an eyesore, the ruins of this building become a joint venture between man and nature. Its owners have covered its walls with climbing foliage, and placed planters in its empty windows. I moved in on only part of the building, taking advantage of the soft early morning light, and creating a lush image that embodies Old Charleston just the way we might imagine it.
Seeing red, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
We are used to seeing the color of a house or a building as a predictable single unifying theme. This image of an old house in Charleston’s historic district, which is probably being renovated, becomes an impressionistic watercolor. The lush greens and browns that surround the house play against the strikingly incongruous mottled red tones that partially cover most of what once was a beige building. The longer we look at this streetscape, the more startling it becomes. It allows our imaginations to take over, and make of this image what they will.
Then to now, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I made this photograph in a historic Charleston neighborhood not far from the harbor. I can see why cars parked outdoors in this area might need protection from the humid salty mists that sometimes frequent this neighborhood. I used a 28mm wideangle lens to maintain sharp focus from the sewer cover in the near foreground all the way to the covered car at the back of the image. The patterned brickwork links the pattern of the circular sewer cover to the shadowy curves lurking within the draping that shrouds the somewhat sinister car. My spot metering throws the background into shadow, avoiding conflict with the other elements of the photo. The 19th century brick street also offers an incongruous contrast to the mysterious technology beneath the shroud. I compare then to now, linking a hand-made street built for long-dead horses to a ghostly modern automobile.
Eternal wall, Graveyard of the Circular Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
These headstones stand in the oldest English burial ground in Charleston. The featured headstone, bearing the name of Susan Branford, was erected in 1895, exactly 200 years after this cemetery was first established. I photographed it not only for its elegant typography, but also for its Victorian sentiments. It contrasts in color to the headstones placed around it. My framing attaches these darker slabs to the Branford headstone, creating a seamless wall of marble and granite. The photograph expresses the concept of a “wall of eternity” -- an impervious shield of marble and stone, intended to forever recall those who are buried beneath it.
Sprouts, Graveyard of the Circular Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Images of flowering gravesites are often made to express the concept of the eternal life cycle. Yet I made this particular photograph to add still another measure of meaning to this concept. In this case, not only does this marker anchor a bed for a flowering plant – it is also stands just behind a young tree, vigorously extending beyond the limits of the frame itself. The emerging sapling doubles the power of the image as a symbol of regenerative life playing against the story of inevitable death. Meanwhile, the inscription on the stone implies that this tree may not eventually consume the grave itself, which stands nearby, but not actually in this spot.
Mausoleum, Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The oldest public cemetery in Charleston, Magnolia was established in 1849 on the banks of the Cooper River. Many of its lavishly designed tombs and mausoleums date from the years of Charleston’s greatest prosperity, just prior to the Civil War. Today some are still carefully tended, but others have fallen into decay. This mausoleum’s door had disintegrated. I entered to photograph the fallen door, the debris on the floor, and the huge rings that offer access to the crypts that lie below. Although the space was tight, my 24mm wideangle lens allows expansive coverage at short range. I converted the color image to black and white to complement the stark and gritty subject matter. The resulting photograph reminds me of something from an Edgar Allen Poe story. Time shows no mercy – and this image expresses that concept.
General’s grave, Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Magnolia is called the “City of the Silent.” Its history provides a chronicle of Charleston’s rise and fall. Many leaders of the South are buried here, including five Confederate generals and more than 1700 Confederate soldiers. One of those generals, Arthur Manigault, lies beneath this slab, along with his wife, Mary Huger. Although he was wounded twice, he survived the war and returned to South Carolina to manage his rice plantation. More than 125 after his death, General Manigault and his wife are still remembered here. A pair of Confederate flags rest at the foot of the tomb.
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Established in 1681, St. Philip’s is the oldest religious congregation in South Carolina. This church, which still dominates the city’s skyline, is the congregation’s third building. It was built in 1836, and the spire was completed in 1850. The tower also serviced as a lighthouse for many years. In this image, I use the spire to pierce the cloud cover overhead, revealing a patch of rich blue sky behind it, and suggesting a church’s heavenly aspirations. My 24mm wideangle lens coverage allows me to move in to emphasize a pair of wrought iron fencing decorations to flank the spire and add a foreground layer of context to the image.
John C. Calhoun’s tomb, St. Philip’s Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Calhoun’s massive tomb suggests his pervasive impact on US history during the first half of the 19th century. Calhoun served in the House of Representatives, the Senate, as Secretary of War, Secretary of State, and as the seventh Vice President of the United States. He agitated for war against the British in 1812 and against Mexico in 1846. More importantly, although he died eleven years before the civil war, he was a fierce advocate for slavery and states rights, and ultimately pointed the South towards secession from the Union. His tomb in St. Philip’s Graveyard is as large as his reputation, and I use its geometry to fill the entire frame here. I moved in on the horizontal inscription from the side with a 28mm wideangle lens and framed it vertically, anchoring the photograph at the right hand edge with an ornate Victorian column. The gray tomb made for a purely monochromatic image, prompting me to convert the photograph to black and white.
Life and death, St. Philip’s Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
I return quite often to the simple idea of contrasting the concepts of life and death in my photographs. I do this in many ways, often by juxtaposing foliage with graveyard headstones. I do that in this image, framing an old and almost illegible headstone with rhythmic repetition of the delicate vegetation surrounding it. The leaves seem to be gently stroking the headstone, symbolically expressing the continuing process of nature’s lifecycle.
Gadsden tomb, St. Philips Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013.
I originally photographed this tomb to make use of the encroaching foliage as it reaches forward to both embrace and obscure the symbolic elegance of the huge sarcophagus. Once again, I am exploring man’s desire for to be forever remembered, the relationship between life and death, and the role of nature’s lifecycle. Later, however, I noticed that one of the people entombed within bears the name Gadsden, who lived from 1806 to 1853. He certainly was not was the famous James Gadsden (1756-1858), who is known for the “Gadsden Purchase” deal with Mexico that made Southern Arizona and New Mexico part of the United States in 1853. Yet an Internet search tells us that this famous name from American history is certainly buried in this cemetery. Could he also lie within this very tomb as well? And what about Christopher Gadsden (1724-1805), the Revolutionary War patriot who designed the famous “Don’t Tread on Me” flag? He is also listed as being buried in this historic graveyard. Could he also be interred within this tomb? I’ve always tried to make images that ask questions and demand answers. I think I might have stumbled on to one here.
Consumed by nature, St. Philips Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Two illegible headstones in the process of being covered within a bed of ivy provide subject matter for a richly colored expanse of repeating shapes and textures. The scene also symbolizes the ultimate dominance of nature over man. If I had discovered this particular subject earlier, the ivy would not have yet begun its inexorable climb along the stones. If I had come to it too late, the stones would have already vanished below the ivy, making the most important subject – the stones – invisible. Fortunately, I arrived at the scene on the perfect day – the ivy has begun its ascent, scaling the face of the stones, as well as already creeping along the narrow space between them. Yet the graceful pair of arches within the rectangular stones is still quite visible, and communicates the passage of time itself. I carefully frame the scene tightly, creating great tension between the stationary stones and the advancing ivy.
Under the leaves, St. Philips Graveyard, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Edward Rutledge was, at the age of 26, the youngest signer of the US Declaration of Independence. He later served as Governor of South Carolina. He was only 50 when he died. His “remains are deposited beneath this stone,” a marble slab sprinkled with symbolic fallen leaves, some brown, others gold. A Revolutionary War flag peeks at us from its head. A massive tree fills the upper left corner of the frame, while the partial slab leads the eye to the lower left corner.
Many of the leaves are almost tear-shaped, remindful of grief and mourning.
Courtesy, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013Courtesy, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
While threading our way slowly through heavy downtown Charleston traffic, a pedestrian standing in the street seemed to guide us safely towards an oncoming stop sign. He holds an empty cup in one hand, and patiently gestures with his other as he peers at us over his spectacles. It was a spontaneous act of courtesy, very typical of Charlestonians. His courteous gesture was appreciated -- our rental car was large and unfamiliar to us, and the street was congested. My daughter was driving, and I made this image through the front window, and waved back at him in return. The photograph gives us a modest look at the human side of Charleston.
Guns over Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
On June 28, 1776, less than a week before the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, a British fleet of nine warships attacked Charleston. The formidable British navy had not lost a sea battle in over a century. Fort Moultrie, emplaced on Sullivan’s Island at the entrance to Charleston’s harbor, returned fire, and for nine hours the British fleet bombarded the fort with 200 guns. But Fort Moultrie’s 30 cannons eventually forced the British ships to retire, and thereby saved Charleston. During the 1860’s, Confederates manning Fort Moultrie were bombarded for nearly two years by Union navy ships, yet their 32-pounder guns managed to keep them at bay. In this image, I recall both of those events by using a 24mm wideangle lens to lead the eye into the frame with the massive cannon at right. The cannon, in turn, calls attention to the puffy dark cloud that floats across the center of the image, resembling a ghostly barrage of gun smoke.
Powder Magazine, Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The bunkers used to store gunpowder at Fort Moultrie can still be seen. The fort was in commission for more than 170 years. Some of its gun emplacements date back to before the Civil War. Others show the fort as it looked from the late 19th century through World War II. This powder magazine is lined with replica gunpowder barrels. My 24mm wideangle lens embraces most of them as they carry the eye to the barred window at the back of the enclosure. The flow of barrels echoes both the flow of the boards on the floor as well as the boards that cover the curved ceiling overhead.
Summer, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2013
For many, summers in Charleston include visits to the barrier islands less than a half hour away. One of those islands is known as Isle of Palms, used as a vacation spot beginning in the late 19th century. Residential development began in earnest following World War II. Today there are more than 4,000 homes on the island. This beach towel features the town’s logo. It seems ready to go to work.
The power of the sea, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2013
Miles of beaches line the shore of this barrier island. Today tourists and locals use them to enjoy surfing in the Atlantic Ocean. On the other hand, over the years this coastline has borne the brunt of nature’s fury. At least six Confederate blockade-runners were shipwrecked off these shores during the Civil War. In 1989, Hurricane Hugo flooded much of the island. It’s northeastern end, home to private community of Wild Dunes, has endured a severe erosion crisis. Rising waters all over the world are threatening beaches everywhere. In this image, I try to balance the pleasures of recreation against the threat of nature’s awesome power. I layer the foreground with vulnerable dunes, then move to a group of visitors towing their boards along the edge of the sea, and fill the background with the churning power of the ocean itself.
State flag, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2013
The unique state flag of South Carolina features a white Palmetto tree and a crescent moon upon a blue field. Colonel William Moultrie, commander of Fort Moultrie, designed the flag during the American Revolution. It then bore only the crescent moon and was flying over the fort during the epic 16 hour British naval bombardment on June 28, 1776. The British fleet failed to crush Moultrie’s defenders and take Charleston. The flag became known as the “Liberty Flag,” the first American flag to fly over the South. The Palmetto tree, added in 1861, also refers to the defense of Fort Moultrie. The fort survived the British bombardment because it was constructed of Palmetto trees laid over sand walls. After Confederate guns opened the Civil War by forcing Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor to surrender in 1861, a variation of this flag was unfurled over its ruins. It became the first Confederate flag to fly over captured US territory. Today, the flag is ubiquitous. It can be found on coffee mugs, wallets, shirts, belts, and shoes, and here it flutters from a balcony of a beach house on the Isle of Palms. I play its diagonal flow against the contrasting diagonal of a hammock in the background.
Summer morning, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2013
This image, which I made with my iPhone from an upper story balcony in our beach house, speaks of both tranquility and energy. The diagonal thrust of this barrier island's dune coastline slashes through the frame to the horizon. The explosive shape of the towering cumulous clouds adds dynamic organization and a dose of nature’s majesty to the composition. No beach is visible – the sea is at high tide, and what beach may still be there is invisible behind the dunes. Meanwhile, both sea and land appear silent and empty, accented by the small sail boat left seemingly abandoned on a sea of grass near the lower left hand corner of the frame. This incongruous contrast of form and content brings this landscape to life, and leaves us with a sense of place.
Casa Flamingo, Isle of Palms, South Carolina, 2013
A beach house should allow its guests to disregard life as it is usually lived, and instead provide a whimsical haven for the imagination as well as place to rest and recreate. This beach house, known as Casa Flamingo, seems to do this quite well. It is incongruously painted entirely in pink and trimmed in white, as well as guarded by a pair of enormous plastic pink flamingoes. I crop in on the twin staircases leading to the front door, which is on the second floor of the building. Because the barrier islands of South Carolina frequently must absorb the wrath of hurricanes, the homes here are often built with the main entrance on the second floor. (The lowest floor which is first to flood, is often used for storage or parking.) This house, more than likely, is a summer vacation rental, as are many of the other houses on the Isle of Palms. The twin staircases, along with the flamingoes and the pink paint, team up to invite our imaginations to enter the image and take it from there.
Decisive Moment, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
As evening shadows blend with a setting sun, a baseball leaves the hand of a pitcher and heads towards a waiting hitter. My shutter stops the ball in its flight just as it enters the notch connecting the pitchers mound to the batters box. It is exactly at this instant that the batter must make a decision. Swing or not? All is suspended in time. I made this image while spending a glorious evening of minor league baseball in Charleston’s Riley Park, home of the Charleston Riverdogs. The park was built in 1997, and seats 6,000 baseball fans. The Riverdogs are a farm team of the major league New York Yankees. They play in the Class A South Atlantic League. I was sitting so close to home plate that my 112mm short telephoto lens could easily encompass this scene. I had to shoot through the wire mesh backstop, which places a unifying texture over the entire frame.
Men at work, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The five people in this image allow me to lead the eye through the frame. The videographers frame an upcoming hitter as they cover the game from just above ground level. Three spectators add context to those who are working, as the eye moves from left to right. The hitter is a member of the Rome (Georgia) Braves, playing the Charleston Riverdogs this evening. The Braves wear a uniform almost identical to their parent club, the major league Atlanta Braves.
Hoping for a prize, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The Riverdogs’ mascot was tossing free souvenir tee-shirts into the stands, and this five-year-old baseball fan, who happens to be my own grandson Jack, was hoping to catch one of them. Held firmly in his uncle’s grasp, he throws his arms skyward as I made this photograph from a low vantage point. I link his pleading fingers to the diagonal flow of the grandstand roof above him. Jack is already a student of the game – he lives in Brooklyn, and passionately follows the Yankees. The blue shirt he wears bears the name of the famed Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter. Unfortunately, no Riverdogs tee-shirt would come his way this evening.
Riverdog fans, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
Baseball has been part of the fabric of Charleston life for more than 125 years. The city has supported minor league franchises since the Charleston Seagulls were established in 1886. The Seagulls played here until the 1920. Nine name changes followed until 1994, when the Riverdogs arrived. The team’s fans reflect the diversity and flavor of the city itself. They root respectfully, even in defeat. I shot this pair of fans from behind. The man’s head is shaved, while the woman’s hair-do makes up for what he is missing. He wears colorful local t-shirt, featuring two of the primary colors, blue and red. The blue color is repeated in the shirt of the videographer at right, as well as on the outfield wall. A member of the visiting team has just hit a home run, and is rounding third base in the background. The two Riverdog fans watch in utter silence.
No joy at “The Joe,” Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
The visiting Rome (Georgia) Braves were pummeling the host Charleston Riverdogs this evening, and I turned my camera to the fan reaction. This trio of Riverdogs supporters shows body language and expressions that convey a numb acceptance of the reality before them. It is late in the game, and they are still hanging around, but there is obviously no joy at “The Joe,” as Joseph Riley Park is known. The Riverdogs are losing about as many games as they are winning this year, but winning is not what minor league baseball is all about. Class A teams are primarily geared to player development, and in Charleston’s case, that means grooming players to perhaps someday play for the parent New York Yankees.
No joy in Mudville, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright...The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light...And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout...But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out.” (“Casey at the Bat,” Earnest Thayer, June 3, 1888)
The concluding stanza of “Casey at the Bat” was on my mind as the Charleston Riverdogs were about to lose to the Rome (Georgia) Braves, 7-3. This couple, clad in “Riverdog Blue,” has been left almost alone in their row, just below the press box. Many had already left the scene, but these people stayed until the curtain fell. I made this image as the woman’s attention turns to her cell phone, while the man remains focused, non-too happily, on the field of play.
Nightfall, Riley Park, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
As the minor league baseball game between Charleston and Rome (Georgia) neared its conclusion, there was still some light in the summer sky. The overhead clouds reflect the colors of the setting sun, while a single light tower helps illuminate the field below. This image conveys a warm, nostalgic mood, the essence of baseball, our national game. This image offers a reminder that experiencing a game at a baseball park such as this one can offer us much more than watching a game on a TV screen.
Homeward bound, New Cooper River Bridge, Charleston, South Carolina, 2013
This bridge, linking Charleston to neighboring Mt. Pleasant, opened our gallery, and now closes it. We saw it first by day, rendered in black and white. We see it now by night, in color. I shot the first image through the window of a moving car by using a shutter speed of 1/600th of a second. In this image, also made from a moving car, my shutter had to remain open for a much longer quarter of a second. The slow shutter speed and moving car renders the delicate network of cables as slender blurs, converging as strands in motion upon a tower of green that seems to float in the sky. The highway lights, and those of moving cars, become abstract streaks, soaring upwards as well. This image becomes an instrument of feeling, rather than a description of a modern bridge. It offers an appropriate ending to our photographic interpretation of Charleston.