Fenced in, South Battery Street, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
These stately antebellum homes line the northern edge of Charleston’s famous White Point Garden, an area generally called the “battery.” The Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston’s harbor launched the American Civil War and rattled the windowpanes of these elegant mansions. I abstract the buildings by featuring only their ornate layers of railings, arches and fences, using a medium 100mm telephoto lens to compress them into rhythmic patterns that symbolize this era.
Fountain, Heyward-Washington House, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
I combine the work of both man and nature to express the setting of perhaps the most famous historic home in Charleston. The city rented this house for George Washington’s use during the first President’s weeklong Charleston stay in May, 1791. The formal garden of this home features the kind of plants that were here during Washington’s visit. I photographed this fountain at sunset. Golden light warms a cherubic stone figure as it rises from a bed of flowering plants, bearing a basin upon its head. The cherub is incongruously frowning. I contrast the worn stone figure to display the fresh foliage and flowers before it.
Mercury rises, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
A larger than life bronze representation of Mercury, the Roman patron god of financial gain, commerce, and eloquence, races towards my lens. The setting is quite appropriate – the classical columns of a Charleston mansion echo the vertical thrust of Mercury’s winged staff, known as a caduceus – a symbol of commerce. A wealthy rice plantation owner probably may have built this mansion and placed the god of commerce before it more than 200 years ago. I complete the image by including a row of spiked fence posts across the bottom of the frame. The columns, along with the arm and staff of Mercury, repeat the vertical pattern created by the fence posts and the trees that fill the background.
Landmarks in time, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014ie
I had already photographed this church and its historic graveyard during my 2013 visit to Charleston. ( http://www.pbase.com/pnd1/image/152095149)
I decided to go back to it once more during this very brief 2014 visit. This time, the graveyard incongruously proved busier than usual. A wedding event seemed in the offing – clusters of tuxes echoing joyful banter, oblivious to the ranks of tombstones behind them. My vantage point for this image best tells the story. I fill three quarters of my frame with the graveyard and leave only a quarter of the frame for the living. A wedding may well represent a significant stage in the life cycle. However, this image infers that weddings are but a small landmark in time, when compared to eternity itself.
Garden by the sea, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
Charleston has always been among one of the nation’s great seaports. This walled garden in Charleston’s historic district, only a short walk from the harbor, reflects that tradition. A sculpture of a mythical sea creature incongruously swims upon an aged brick wall. I stressed its verticality by framing it within a vertical garland of greenery on all four sides.
Into the shadows, Charleston, South Carolina, 2014
This dog-walker moves away from us, as she heads down a cobblestone sidewalk, through the shadows of a historic Charleston neighborhood. This twilight image alternately withholds and reveals a patchwork tale of old stones and wrought iron, reminding us of past generations who once trudged through these same shadows.
The “American Glory,” off South Carolina coast, 2014
“The American Glory,” is a small, flat-bottomed riverboat – our home for a week of cruising along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It appropriately flies a large American flag from its stern, and on this day, that flag responds to a strong wind, heavy rain, and the motion of the ship itself. The stripes on the left hand side of the flag are curving diagonally, while the stripes on its right remain horizontal. This directional contrast energizes the image. I lowered my camera to also include four horizontal bars of the ship’s railing as a foreground layer. The bars reminded me of music paper, preprinted with staffs ready for musical notation. The musical reference joins the fluttering flag stripes to render a “Star Spangled Banner.”
Maritime mechanics, “American Glory,” off South Carolina coast, 2014
I made this image a few minutes after shooting the previously displayed photograph of the “American Glory” flag. The flat light and the leaden skies encouraged me to step back, point my camera upwards, and photograph the very top of our ship’s red, white, and blue smokestack, featuring six black exhaust pipes and a small post. A string of decorative lights is attached to that post. The opposite end of that string of lights is attached to an overhead canvas canopy that offers shelter from a heavy rain. The lights literally link the smoke stack with the canopy and tie the image’s main elements together. The resulting photograph is an abstracted interpretation of maritime mechanics, as well a display of powerful primary color. The red band around the top of the smokestack dominates the scene, and brings energy to an otherwise austere composition.
Along the Inland Passage, en route to Beaufort, South Carolina, 2014
I built this image around five layers of vertical posts and horizontal piers lining the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. I include very little sky in this image, anchoring the posts and piers upon the heavily textured water. The flat light helps me abstract the image, and make the piers and posts appear in silhouette. Spots of rich color in the small green and red numerical signs in the foreground and far background create colorful front and back “book ends” for this composition. Another key to this image rests in a very small foreground detail – a cormorant sits on top of the green sign. Our ship was in motion, and the cormorant, while stationary, is moving as the ship moves. I waited until the bird fell within the posts of pier just behind it, and then released the shutter.
Heron, en route to Beaufort, South Carolina, 2014
A heron, gently stalking through the shallows not far from our flat-bottomed boat, is the focal point of this image. I layer the photograph from foreground to background, first using layers of rippling water and banks of dirt to lead directly to the graceful body language of the heron itself. The layering resumes behind the heron, leading to the marshland and pier in the background. I composed this image to guide the eye through the scene via a series of contrasting colors and textures.
Echoes of the “Old South,” Beaufort, South Carolina, 2014
This image attempts to capture the atmosphere and mood of not only Beaufort but also of the Old Confederacy itself, as it existed before the American Civil War. I layer a Victorian fountain from that period against the softly focused cascades of moss hanging from the branches of a nearby Oak tree. The image reminds me of a stained glass window, commemorating a vanished society.
Centerpiece of “The Castle,” Beaufort, South Carolina, 2014
Some of Beaufort’s oak and crepe myrtle trees are hundreds of years old. This tree anchors the garden of an 1850 mansion. The tree was growing there long before the mansion, known as the “castle,” was built. Today it remains the centerpiece of one of Beaufort’s largest private gardens. In my image, the tree breaks through the top of the frame, making it seem as if its height is unlimited. I intensify this scale incongruity by juxtaposing the huge tree against the relatively small urn of flowers at the base of the image.