Monochrome Monday, Hilton Head Island, pt 4

My next set of photos from the lovely Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

Bass Beach Dune Fence Composition 2
Salty Dog Café Deck Abstract
Salty Dog Café Deck Abstract
South Beach Marina Pier 1
South Beach Marina Pier 1
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Large Leaf Tropical Ground Plant 1
Large Leaf Tropical Ground Plant 1

For the best viewing experience, click to see a high resolution version. Please stay safe.

Cheers!

C. S.

Hilton Head Island, pt 3

More beach and landscapes from Hilton Head Island. This series is the first deep dive into my new Nikon z7ii and Nikkor Z 28 – 70mm f2.8 lens. Thus far I have been impressed by the extended dynamic range, low noise and detail as compared to my D720. With the extra resolution, I’m retraining myself to not crop in as close. Not only does it provide more composition opportunities in post, but this also allows squeezing out a little more depth of field when desired.

Bass Beach Dune Fence Composition 1
Bass Beach Dune Fence Composition 1
Palmatto Composition 1
Palmatto Composition 1
Shipyard Dr Pond Composition 2
Shipyard Dr Pond Composition 2
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 2
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 2
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Sculpture 1
Live Oak, Reconstruction Fern, and Spanish Moss Sculpture 1

If you’re viewing on a monitor, you can really appreciate the output of the Z7ii by clicking on an image to see a high resolution version. Thank you for taking time to visit, and please stay safe. The end of the pandemic is in sight!

Cheers,

C. S.

Monochrome Monday: Hilton Head Island

Last week my wife and I joined some friends for several days on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. This was my first visit to the island. I expected a commercially overdeveloped landscape, like many other popular beach destinations in North & South Carolina. To my surprise, local ordinances have subdued commercialization and preserved much of the island’s natural beauty.

Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 1
Palmetto Tree and Beach Composition 1

When visiting a new location, I always take an interest in understanding the local history, culture and biodiversity. As my youngest son attends the University of South Carolina, I knew the SC was known as the Palmetto State. Before my trip, I would have identified the two trees below as two separate species. They are actually both Palmettos (Sabal Palm) trees. Palmettos loose their weaved “boot” barking once they mature.

Two Palmettos Composition
Two Palmettos Composition
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 2
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 2

The numerous stately live oaks, imbued with Spanish moss and reconstruction ferns, contribute to the island’s natural charm. The weather was overcast most of the week, but I’ve found such weather quite an opportunity for photography.

Live Oak and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Live Oak and Spanish Moss Composition 1
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 3
Calibogue Sound Fog Composition 3
Live Oak and Reconstruction Fern Detail 1
Live Oak and Reconstruction Fern Detail 1

Thank you for visiting and please stay safe! For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.

Craggy Gardens Tree, Root, and Rock Compositions

From my Blue Ridge Parkway expedition this past October, this wonderful spot along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail offered many intriguing tree, root, and rock compositions. A quick point on inquiry, has anyone noticed WP adds about +5 red tint to color photos?

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Tree, Root, Rock Composition 4

For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.

Cheers,

C. S.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail, pt 1

The Great Craggy Mountains are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Asheville and Mount Mitchell in North Carolina.  Craggy Gardens is an area of 16 km where the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the crest featuring a visitor center, picnic area, and several excellent hiking trails.  Craggy Gardens best known for its spectacular display of pink/purple blooms of the Catawba rhododendron creating a tunnel of foliage along much of it’s hiking trails. 

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Landscape 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Landscape 1

My afternoon hike along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail, in mid-October, featured equally impressive fall foliage color, gnarled mountain ash, rhododendron and beech, and small grassy rock balds.  The diverse opportunities for photo compositions were quite numerous. I crossed not one, but two separate wedding photo sessions.

Craggy Dome from Craggy Pinnacle
Craggy Dome from Craggy Pinnacle

This was one of my favorite locations during my two, Wednesday night through Saturday afternoon fall foliage expeditions into the Blue Ridge Mountains. I returned the following morning Craggy Knob, more on that in a future post.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Catawba Rhododendron Vignette 1
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 2
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 2

This unique tree is a popular photo stop on the Craggy Pinnacle Trail.

Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 3
Craggy Pinnacle Trail Vignette 3

The view below is from Craggy Pinnacle looking towards Craggy Knob and the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center. The small grey square near the center of the image, is the large trail shelter near the Craggy Knob grassy bald.

Craggy Pinnacle Landscape 1
Craggy Pinnacle Landscape 1

For the best viewing experience, click on a photo to view a high resolution version. Or, view more scenes in my Blue Ridge Parkway gallery. Stay safe!

Cheers!

C. S.

Oh, here’s one of the wedding portrait sessions I came across:

Craggy Gardens Wedding Portraiture
Craggy Gardens Wedding Portraiture

Craggy Gardens Sunset

I felt this sunset from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center deserved its own post. Setup on my tripod, over the course of 20 minutes, I shot 24, 3 stop bracketed sets, for a total of 72 images. Back during my film days, I obviously would have had to been a bit more judicious and disciplined in the number sets shot. Here I was afforded the benefit to pick the best image featuring the cloud and sun positions, and sun ray impacts streaming through the mountains into the valley.

Craggy Gardens Sunset 1
Craggy Gardens Sunset 1

Post processing includes some dehazing, a little HDR processing, and color correction. Much more to come in future posts of my wonderful visit to Craggy Gardens – so much to see! For the best viewing experience, click to see the high resolution version.

Everyone stay safe!

Cheers,

C. S.

Southern Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall Splendor

Last week I took several days off to explore the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina.  This first post features several locations on the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Cherokee and Asheville.  The highest section of the parkway, elevation averaged between 5,000 ft. (1,524 m) and 6,000 ft. (1,829 m).

Bunches Bald Overlook 1
Bunches Bald Overlook 1

For the most part, the fall foliage was at or just before it’s peek.  Though the weather was overcast, I was pleased with the results.  I had forgotten how hard it is to get a correct color balance with such diverse color.  The image above from Bunches Bald Overlook, was repeatedly tweaked over a day or two. I would walk away, come back, tweak some more.  Then, I realized I was wearing my yellow tinted computer glasses, and have to start over!  (o;

Yellow Face Overlook 1
Yellow Face Overlook 1

Post processing included some dehazing and a touch of HDR to recover some dynamic range.  The trick is to accurately represent the foliage color without oversaturating.

Cowee Mountain Overlook 1
Cowee Mountain Overlook 1

My favorite stop was Graveyard Fields, near Mt Pisgah, about 45 min southwest from Asheville.  Reportedly, the area suffered a major wind storm, toppling numerous trees, and was followed by years of logging.  The remaining tree stumps, covered with moss and lichen, resembled a vast graveyard.  Later a major forest fire destroyed the tombstone stumps and sterilized the soil, which severely stunted the forest’s ability to recover.   As a result, the flat valley area has a more open, bald like character.

Graveyard Fields 1
Graveyard Fields 1

Another popular feature of Graveyard Fields is the Yellowstone Prong (river) and its upper and lower falls.  The lower falls was one the most important spots on my photography itinerary.  It’s a short, but moderately steep descent through the rhododendron to the Yellowstone Prong, and then a long staircase further down to the falls. I brought my 120mm 1.8 neutral density filter and Tamron 15mm – 30mm lens.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 1

Precariously, I hopped and leaped around the rocks trying several vantage points.  I’ve determined I’m about too old to take that kind a risk again.  If I do, I will definitely take more time to navigate the rocks.  My long exposures averaged around 15 sec, f7.1, at ISO 100.

Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 2
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3
Graveyard Fields Lower Falls 3

I have much more to come from my expedition, including a series from the Great Smoky Mountain State Park, Cherokee and surround areas.  Thank you for taking time to visit my blog.  For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high-resolution version.  Be safe!

Cheers,

C. S.

North Carolina High Country

My family spent a long weekend back in July in the North Carolina High Country, specifically Avery and Watauga Counties. We visited Boone, Blowing Rock, Valle Crucis, Banner Elk and many points in between. These are my favorite vignettes and landscapes.

Mast General Store Vignette 2
Mast General Store Vignette 2
Mast General Store Vignette 1
Mast General Store Vignette 1
Grandfather's Morning Cloak
Grandfather’s Morning Cloak
Blue Ridge Parkway Sunrise
Blue Ridge Parkway Sunrise
Open Out of Business
Open Out of Business
South Depot Street Composition
South Depot Street Composition
Doc Watson "Just one of the People"
Doc Watson “Just one of the People”

Thank you for stopping by today. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to view a high resolution version.

Cheers,

C. S.