Edisto Beach Trip: Day 1 – Botany Bay Driving Tour

Day 1, Botany Bay Driving Tour

In late April, we drove down to the Edisto Beach State Park where we had rented a cabin for a week.  The next several blog posts will effectively retrace our journey through the pieces I created while in that area.  Without giving too much away, I can say that it was an excellent trip (both as a vacation and for the photographic opportunities).  I came back with more than 1,200 images and a whole lot of wonderful memories.

With a late check-in time, not leaving here until after lunch, and a couple of hours needed to drive there, I don’t consider a travel day to be the first “official” day.  By the time we got the car unloaded, picked up the groceries we needed, and scouted a few places, there really wasn’t any time left for photography.  So, day one (which is where this post picks up the story) didn’t start until the next morning.

Unfortunately, after having relied on my watch alarm to wake me up (and foolishly not setting the clock radio for a backup), I woke up too late for creating images on Botany Bay Beach as I had planned.  The watch was set correctly and likely went off, but the battery was apparently too low to produce an alarm loud enough to break me out of my sound vacation sleep.  The good news is that I might not have missed much because the sun was pretty well choked out by the clouds.  As quickly as possible, we got over to Botany Bay and started the six and a half mile driving tour.  The Botany Bay Plantation is both a Heritage Preserve and a Wildlife Management Area that consists of 4,687 acres and has two plantations (Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud).

 

 

Bleak House Ice House in Botany Bay near Edisto Beach, South Carolina
Bleak Ice House

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Out first photographic stop was the Bleak Ice House.  It is quite ornate, and you can easily see how folks might mistake this building for a small church.  Though it’s more like a barn on the inside, the outside has some pretty fancy woodwork.  In addition to being an ice house, it was also used to air dry crops, a carriage house, and general storage.  The grounds were nice and well kept, and there were a couple of nature trails that we eventually made our way down.

 

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As soon as I came around the corner and saw these huge live oak trees, I pulled off the road and got the camera equipment out.  This is area six on the driving tour map and it is described as: a stand of live oaks that border Ocella Creek on your right, offering great vistas of the coastal marsh that borders the property.

 

 

Stand of Live Oaks bordering Ocella Creek in Botany Bay near Edisto Beach, South Carolina
Botany Bay Live Oaks

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I love how the Spanish moss is draped all over the limbs of the massive live oak in my Botany Bay Live Oaks piece.  The larger foreground palm tree tucked under the live oak creates additional visual interest with its short, choppy lines that break up the flow of the oak.  I placed it almost on the right most one third line, using the rule of thirds, and then pushed it just a little left so that the foreground live oak wasn’t cut off by the edge of the frame.  I also liked the smaller palm tree just behind it and the fronds coming into the frame.

 

 

Live Oak bordering Ocella Creek in Botany Bay near Edisto Beach, South Carolina
Moss Draped

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The final behemoth of the stand was also quite impressive.  Some of the limbs were bigger than most of the trees in our backyard.  Once again, the veil of Spanish moss hangs from the limbs and is blown by the wind in my Moss Draped piece.  I loved how the branches shot out in so many directions filing the frame with their fractal lines and angles.

 

 

Live Oak bordering Ocella Creek in Botany Bay near Edisto Beach, South Carolina
Gigantor

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Gigantor is close to being a vertical companion to Moss Draped since it is the same subject.  From this angle, you can get a better sense of just how large the tree trunk is.  You can also see a little bit of the marsh in the background as well as how the many branches sprawl out.

 

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Thorny Weeds At Hickory Top WMA Near Pinewood, SC

Thorns

Macro abstract plant at Hickory Top WMA near Pinewood, South Carolina
Barbed

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Shortly after composing the wild honeysuckle pieces I wrote about here, I wandered along the road searching for additional subjects while heading toward the entrance.  Not far from the honeysuckle, I discovered some scary looking weeds.  They were fairly tall and covered in thorns.  Not something you would want to run into or fall on if you were wearing shorts.

 

Though not pretty per se (I do like the red bands and the yellowish tips), it certainly met my criteria of being interesting.  As I began to more closely explore the subject in Barbed, I favored an abstract composition.  To create a mixture of antagonism and beauty, I found a perspective that felt like I was looking down into a pain inducing tunnel or the throat of a monster.  The reds, yellows, and spikes endow the piece with a menacing feeling while the greens and softer looking hairs help calm that back down.  At the focal point, the high level of detail allows surface texture, individual hairs, and the sharpness of the barbs to be visible.

 

 

Macro abstract plant at Hickory Top WMA near Pinewood, South Carolina
Thorny

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I found the subject in Thorny just a few paces away from the one in Barbed.  With a decidedly less hostile look and feel (thanks in part to the colder purples and glowing greens), the sword-like thorns and sharp tips sticking out along its edges still give it an intimidating demeanor.  I used a perspective that captured my intrigue with how each successive layer, moving away from the focal point into the background, repeats the pattern above it in a larger size.  The high level of detail, at the focal point, permits surface texture, individual hairs, and the points of the prickly thorns to be seen.

 

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Wild Honeysuckle At Hickory Top WMA Near Pinewood, SC

Wild Honeysuckle

On the second to last full day of my SC AIR trip, I spent the afternoon exploring different parts of the Hickory Top Wildlife Management Area.  As I came into a relatively small and seemingly remote part of Hickory Top, I noticed a spot with a whole lot of color.  Since I wanted to continue to assess the site and discover anything else it had to offer, I made a mental note of the location and planned to inspect it much closer when leaving.  Even though this section of the WMA felt secluded, it had a nice paved road at least two lanes wide that was similar to an extended driveway.  From the main road it went into the woods about three quarters of a mile before splitting at a turnaround that would bring you right back out.  On the turnaround, the car scared another herd of wild pigs and they loudly squealed while frantically running for cover.  The group seen earlier during the week at the Cuddo East Unit of Santee WMR had many more members, but the Hickory Top pigs appeared to be quite unaccustomed to visitors.

 

Macro Honeysuckle at Hickory Top WMA near Pinewood, South Carolina
Hickory Top Honeysuckle

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I had never seen wild honeysuckle with these colors before coming across the plants featured in this post.  When I returned to the place noted earlier, I found an entire bush of the brightly colored flowers.  I didn’t have to look very long to find a branch with blooms and buds that could be isolated against a nicely blurred background, which allowed me to create the Hickory Top Honeysuckle composition.  The high level of detail permits surface textures and individual hairs to be seen.

 

 

Macro Honeysuckle at Hickory Top WMA near Pinewood, South Carolina
Wild Honeysuckle

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For my Wild Honeysuckle composition, I decided to incorporate the background blossoms and buds instead of finding a cluster to separate away from the others.  By using the top of the bush and a horizontal perspective as well as being physically closer, I created a frame filling scene that more closely resembles the majority of the bush – it was simply loaded with the colorful flowers.  If for no other reason than they were so ornate and attractive, it seems like more people would have them on their property.  I felt that this encounter was unique especially since they were growing in the middle of nowhere against a WMA border fence.  Here too, the high level of detail captured allows surface texture, individual hairs, and pollen particles to be visible.

 

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Rat Snake At Hickory Top WMA Near Pinewood, SC

Rat Snake

Macro Rat Snake at Hickory Top WMA near Pinewood, South Carolina
Rat Snake

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I came upon the subject in Rat Snake while hiking on a trail in the Hickory Top WMA on the next to last full day of my SC AIR trip.  I was thrilled to find such a large snake (at least four feet long) just hanging out almost waiting for a photographer to come along and feature it in a composition.  While it appears to be staring intently, perhaps measuring every movement being made and assessing risk factors, the arc of its mouth seems to give it a smirk.  The high level of detail allows tiny pieces of a decaying tree (similar to saw dust) to be seen on the snake’s head, face, and eye.  After allowing several compositions to be created, the snake retreated back into the tree where it presumably came from and likely picked up the aforementioned particles.

 

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