My wife and I have been to the Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) area many times over the past 20 years but it wasn’t until 2015 that we finally visited Brookgreen Gardens. To say that we were shocked with what we discovered there would be an understatement. We simply had no idea how extensive the grounds are and how much there is to see. From a photography standpoint Brookgreen Gardens is a treasure chest of creative possibilities. From the Lowcountry Trail, the zoo and plantation sites, the pontoon boat cruise, and many natural areas, the facility is brimming with image opportunities. Rather than try to explain the photography potential of visiting Brookgreen Gardens I thought I would share some images that I captured during a single morning that we spent at the facility. My wife and I have already decided that the next time we visit the Myrtle Beach area we’ll be spending at least 2 or 3 full days at Brookgreen Gardens.
This short photo essay is divided into six sections in terms of the types of images that can be captured at Brookgreen Gardens: plants and foliage, landscape, birds, textures and details, and finally the onsite zoo. And, I’m sure that I’m only scratching the surface of the potential at Brookgreen Gardens. All of the images were taken hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 along with various Nikon 1 lenses.
Plants and Foliage
Unfortunately our March visit was not ideal timing from a plants and foliage perspective, as most of the plants were just starting to come out of their winter dormancy. I imagine that from the late spring through to the early fall the grounds would provide a plethora of opportunities for flower photography.
Here is a small selection of some of the images I captured during my visit. The first two were captured using a Nikon 1 30-110 f/3.8-5.6 lens with a pair of Vello extension tubes.
The following four images were all captured using a Nikon 1 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens.
Since we didn’t tour the entire grounds I know that I only captured a very minute part of the potential for landscape photography at Brookgreen Gardens. Here are a few images…
While there are some captive birds resident in the onsite zoo, the grounds at Brookgreen Gardens have a wide selection of bird life. I only had time to capture a few images out of the many bird sightings that occurred during my brief visit.
Textures and Details
When I’m out with a camera I usually find myself being naturally drawn to the textures and details that I find around me. Things like tree bark, mechanical items, the shapes of leaves etc. all seem to catch my eye.
I often play a little game with myself by looking for interesting objects in the most poorly lit area I can find. I use these items to challenge my hand-holding technique by trying to capture a usable image at as slow a shutter speed as possible. Here are two images taken hand-held at 1/6th of a second.
The onsite Lowcountry Zoo houses a range of animals that are native to the area. These include alligators, otters, red and gray foxes, bald eagles and owls to name a few. One of the highlights is an outdoor aviary that has a wide selection of heron and egrets flying freely within the structure. There is a boardwalk that runs over a marsh wetland that is incorporated in the aviary. This allows for some images that appear like they were taken in ‘wild’ conditions.
There are also some farm animals in this section of Brookgreen Gardens.
One of the personal highlights of my visit to Brookgreen Gardens was to see a gray fox up in a tree. Apparently this is the only species of fox that is known to climb trees, which they typically do to escape predators like coyotes. The individual in the following two images was resting in the crook of a branch, more than 20 feet from the ground.
The red fox in the following image was just opening its eyes after enjoying a nap.
This final image of a bald eagle was captured by shooting up against the wire mesh of the enclosure.
I hope this short photo essay has given readers a reasonable representation of the many image opportunities available at Brookgreen Gardens. If you ever visit the Myrtle Beach area I’d recommend spending some time there with your camera!
Article and all images are Copyright Thomas Stirr. No use, duplication or adaptation is allowed without written permission.