South Carolina & Florida

January 17th, 2011 | Posted by Steve in Florida | South Carolina

Hi All,

Today is overcast & sprinkling so I am staying in.  It will allow me some reading, computer work, & TV.  Saturday & Sunday, however had decent weather & clear skies.  I took advantage of this time to visit some of the areas within day trip range.

Saturday I grabbed a car and headed down to Florida.  The state line was about 90 minutes distant.  I wanted to visit the Boy Scout Council for a souvenir and see if I could get to the St. Johns River Lighthouse.   Info on the lighthouse can be found here.

A quick visit to the Council building netted me a shoulder patch and it became the 37th different Council headquarters I visited.  From there I set off to find the St. Johns River Lighthouse.  It has been out of use since 1930.  It stands on the north side of the runway of the Mayport Naval Station.  It is only a few feet from the security fence separating the village of Mayport from the Naval Facility.  Shooting a photo from there would not only put the fence in the photo, but would limit any potential composition.

Instead I drove to the main gate & presented my Army issued Contractor’s Access Card.  I asked the guard if shooting any photos of the lighthouse would present any problems.  He said no so in I went.

From the main gate to the lighthouse is a long drive around the west end of a long landing strip.  The lighthouse can be seen from near the main gate but getting on the right road was a bit of a trick.  I had to drive to the west end of the landing strip, which was going away from the lighthouse before it hooked around and took me to my goal.  The lighthouse is actually very near to the north gate, but that gate was closed on Saturday.

Once I got there I parked and had all the time I wanted for photos.  The tower is surrounded by modern buildings, and equipment that looks like it probably has something to do with the landing strip.  The lighthouse itself is in an arrested state of decay.  The brick used to be painted a bright red, but has now oxidized to a shade of orange.  The glass at the top of the tower looks as if it hasn’t been cleaned in ages, the metal is turning green.  This is probably the best of my lighthouse shots that day.

All the photos are at ISO 200, on the 24-105 f4 lens, and hand held.  The lens in these photos has a B+W UV filter on it which adds no color cast.  This shot is 1/60th second at f 22, focal length was 28mm.  I set a manual kelvin temperature to 6500 degrees to warm the photo up slightly.

St. Johns Island Lighthouse

St. Johns Island Lighthouse

From there I drove back around the landing strip to the main gate.  After leaving the base and on the spur of the moment I headed for the village of Mayport and the St. Johns River ferry.  Mayport is a small village officially part of Jacksonville, FL.  It is both quaint tourist, decrepit, & a real fishing village all rolled into one.  The ferry leaves on the hour and on the half hour.  I was the last car on and the gate closed just as I parked.  The distance is probably no greater than from Balboa Peninsula to Balboa Island, CA and far less scenic.  The ride took all of 5 minutes if that.

From there I headed west along the ecological preserve to find I 95.  My next stop was the St. Simon Island Lighthouse in Georgia near Brunswick.  The light is restored with a museum and beautiful 2 story brick residence on the grounds.  It is a tourist stop.   Getting there from the south I got off at Jekyll Island Rd./Ocean Hwy. & headed out to the island.   Leaving the trees you drive on a large open marsh.  In the distance is the Sidney Lanier Bridge.  At the end of the marsh the highway hangs a sweeping left onto the bridge.

I was very impressed with the bridge design.  It is a cable-stayed bridge with 2 towers.  The form was great and the light played on it nicely.  I drove over the bridge wondering if I should stop and shoot it, but there was no apparent place to park.  I kept on and turned onto the causeway to St. Simon Island.  The lighthouse was easily seen in the distance before me.

Then I noticed the moon had risen in the east.  It was 3 days past the first quarter and quite noticeable in the afternoon light.  I wondered if I could get the lighthouse and the moon together given the trees and its potentially confined area.  I figured I could get the moon with the bridge.  I turned around and headed for the bridge looking for a place to safely park.

The Sidney Lanier Bridge is named for a famous poet & musician of the 19th century.  He was commemorated on a 1972 U.S. postage stamp.  The bridge is 4 lanes wide with 2 in each direction.  On either side is a thin pedestrian walkway some 3-5’ wide and no “K” rail separating traffic from the pedestrians.  The length of the bridge is 7,779 feet, the center span in 1,250 feet and it is 185 feet above the water.  The speed limit is 50 mph and driving over it in wind seemed a bit touchy.  That didn’t stop any pedestrians though.  A few were out jogging on the bridge.

I looked for a place to park where I could walk onto the bridge, but I found nothing with easy pedestrian access.  I wondered if I could park at the base of the bridge and not get any attention from any police.  Finally I found a side road that took me under the approach and along the western face.  The road led to a casino.  I parked and got these photos.

Sidney Lanier Bridge B&W

Sidney Lanier Bridge B&W

This is 1/250th second at f 16, 85mm focal length.  It is changed from color to B&W via Photoshop using the Channel Mixer function.

Sidney Lanier Bridge B&W-2

Sidney Lanier Bridge B&W-2

Bridges can make great photographic subjects because of the interplay of light on their necessary geometric forms.  I changed both photos from color to black & white to make for more drama.

This 2nd one is 1/250th second, f 13, 40mm focal length.  Again B&W via Photoshop Channel Mixer function.  The moon had to be treated differently.  Using the Channel Mixer the moon turned black and was lost.  I had to select the moon, give it a 3 pixel feather radius then select inverse to protect the pixels of the moon.  The change to B&W was then made via the Channel Mixer.  This left a moon with a blue cast from the original color photo.  Selecting Inverse again I now had the moon with the rest of the picture protected from any changes.  Using the channel mixer again I simply checked the monochrome box which gave me the gray moon you see above.  I will probably do this one again, but with a 2 pixel feather radius.

The classic place to make a bridge shot is somewhere on the bridge near and pointing toward a center pylon.  The closer the photo is to the center of the bridge the better.  Having no easy pedestrian access, it being cold (about 50) and windy, not being dressed for the weather, & disliking the pedestrian safety on the bridge I chose not to hike it.  That being said the next day I hiked the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC and got these two shots.

Arthur Ravnel Jr Bridge

Arthur Ravnel Jr Bridge

Ravnel Bridge B&W High Structure

Ravnel Bridge B&W High Structure

The first in color is not using a polarizer.  I could not get into traffic so I shot it from the pedestrian lane.  The bridge has lots of light standards.  I had to compose the photo with the light standards below the bottom of the frame to keep with the pure forms.  The first photo is 1/400th second at f11, 24mm focal length.

The second photo (actually shot in time before the first) is 1/320th second, f 14, 24mm focal length.  I am on the pedestrian walkway at the base of the pylon shooting up.  It has a Nik Silver Efex software ‘Hi Structure’ overlay to enhance the contrast & the grain in the concrete.

After shooting the Lanier bridge it was getting late & time to go back to the motel to be ready for Sunday’s excursion.

Sunday morning I left for Charleston, SC.  I wanted to see Ft. Sumter and the old town area.  As it turns out half of the trip is overland on Hwy 17 with some 20 miles of it under repair so going was slow.  Along the way I found this old building at the juncture of 17 & 303.  It is another building in an arrested state of decay.  The display is probably of recent origin, but the building could have been a service station once.  Behind it out of view is a large construction yard with lots of trucks, earth moving equipment and gravel.

Texaco at 17 & 30, SC

Texaco at 17 & 30, SC

This is pretty much a straight forward portrait or postcard shot taken quickly.  I was at this site only some 2 minutes.  I had some horizontals which don’t do much for me.  The verticals are a bit better allowing the vegetation to somewhat frame the building.  Probably I should have moved off to my left for a few more shots, but I didn’t.   This is 1/250th second at f 10, 40mm focal length.  Zooming in much closer would have isolated the building, but at the expense of making it seem to blend in with the surrounding vegetation.  My first horizontals are like that and the photos seem to have no ‘punch’.

I finally arrived in Charleston well after noon and quickly realized because of the time it took to cover the distance I was running out of time.  The old residential section of Charleston is visually quite interesting with many Antebellum homes, some brick streets and at least one cobblestone street.  Some of the interior streets are very narrow offering barely enough room for a parked car and a moving car.  The tourists make things even more interesting.  If you are not dodging a car you are dodging hordes of tourists who ignore traffic rules.

Parking along Murray Blvd. & E Battery wasn’t too bad and apparently free.  These streets are at the sea wall along the southern and eastern edges of the old residential district.  Anything on the inside of those streets or deeper in the residential area required a permit.  White Point Gardens at the SE corner of this area was quite popular with tourists.  There were many statues, some Civil War mortars and maybe a Columbiad Cannon or two.

This is the part of Charleston from where many of the residents watched the shelling of Ft. Sumter the morning of April 12, 1861.  Somewhere at home I think I still have a front page of Harper’s Weekly from that distant time showing the shelling.  Ft. Sumter is far from this, but is still visible on the horizon.

The sun was bright, there were lots of trees casting shadows, lots of modern vehicles parked, and a few for sale signs up.  It made it very tough to find an old home that would stand for a portrait.  I caught these two, one of which is a museum.

Edmondston Alton House Charleston, SC

Edmondston Alton House Charleston, SC

House in Old Charleston, SC

House in Old Charleston, SC

The first is 1/250th second at f 10, 24mm focal length.  The verticals have been straightened at left which got rid of a palm tree peeking into the frame.  The second house is 1/250th second at f 9, 28mm focal length.  The shadows in the foreground have been lightened by a full stop.  The foreground & right were also cropped out of the final photo because they showed both nothing of interest and more shadow.  If I straightened the verticals at the left it would probably make the palm tree lean over so I left that alone.

From there I drove over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge shown above.  There was metered parking below the bridge on the east side in Mt. Pleasant.  The bridge is 8 lanes wide, 4 in each direction.  It has a 12’ pedestrian lane on the southern side of the bridge with a large K rail protecting pedestrians from traffic and a 7’ tall fence at the edge of the bridge.  The bridge is 13,200 feet long, has a center span of 1,546 feet and clears the water by 186 feet.

Being better dressed than the day before I hiked to the center of the bridge getting lots of photos.  Looking down from the bridge onto the tidal marsh I found some interesting patterns in the marsh grasses.  If I can ever make a good B&W out of this I will, but so far I can’t get any real bright whites or deep blacks.  It is 1/400th at f 10 with a 70mm focal length.

Patterns in the marsh grass

Patterns in the marsh grass

Despite the cool weather (again 50 degrees F.) & light wind there were many pedestrians and bicyclists on the bridge.  By the time I got back to my car my feet seemed like they were on fire.  The distance and grade were no big deal, I do more on my treadmill, but walking on concrete is different than walking on a rubber mat.  That night I found half dollar sized blisters on the balls of feet.

I keep on adding a few of my contacts to this list.  Again, if you don’t want to see these emails (sent at irregular intervals) then let me know.  That’s all for now.  I hope all of you enjoy the photos.

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