Mr. Smith’s Pyramid …

Still in Charleston … After spending the morning doing some rewarding photography at Magnolia Plantation, we went to Magnolia Cemetery (not related) during the late afternoon.  The cemetery is advertised as the oldest public cemetery in Charleston, being founded in 1849, and containing many notable southern interrments. It is a popular tourist attraction, and the main interest for us photographers is the many 19th century gothic gravestones, ironwork, and mausoleums.  The Wm. B. Smith mausoleum is one of the most distinct in the cemetery – it is, in fact, a quite large pyramid. The accompanying  thumbnail gives you a pretty good idea of its size in relation to the surrounding monuments and markers, and its location facing the small lake in the middle of the cemetery.

As distinctive as this structure is, it was very difficult to photograph on the day we were there – the sky was a featureless, bright overcast, bright enough to be completely blown out in any single exposure looking up to the pinnacle.  I made a couple of images from the front, and then moved around the back, where I found Tony exepriencing similar frustrations with the sky.  Tony moved on, but I remained there for a few minutes.  I tried some shots of the entire back facade, still dealing with the intense, blank sky, but then my eye followed the shape of the structure down to its base where I saw this composition.

I immediately saw this as a black and white image, and because there was a pretty consistent breeze, I thought I would try for a longish exposure to smooth out the water in juxtaposition to the texture of the stones and grass.  At the same time, I was also concerned about not to getting too much movement in the tree branches.  I wound up shooting a 15 second exposure at f/16 at ISO 200, with -1EV programmed in.  I think it worked – at least I like it.

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Iconic Images …

I have been in Charleston, SC since Monday, and have been shooting with a Tony Sweet workshop since Tuesday morning.  On Wednesday morning, we went to Magnolia Plantation, arriving just as dawn was beginning to break.  This was my fourth trip to Magnolia Plantation, and for the first time I made a resolve to shoot a couple of the iconic images this venue presents. Both the images in this post were taken along Oak Drive, within about 100 yards of each other.

The first image is a single click, while the second is a three-shot HDR.  I have also been doing a lot of experimentation with mirror montages and am beginning to get some feel for how these work.  I will add a post about this technique later and include a gallery of some of my more successful experiments.

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