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.
Unless you have the luxury of close access to National Parks or scenic destinations or can travel during the off-seasons, visiting a destination for the first time is something hard to plan for. Prior to each trip, I always browse the internet to look for interesting locations I may want to visit. It’s especially hard to fully explore some National Parks such as the ones in Utah in only under a week. Therefore pre-planning some hiking trips doable by the whole family within the limited time is a must.
During a recent trip to the Myrtle Beach area of South Carolina I took the opportunity to try something new, and captured a number of images of brown pelicans. Although I’ve seen these birds a number of times in the past I never tried photographing them before, and as with any bird species there was a learning curve involved.
I’m a European. Through and through. Even now I am sitting at a coffee house, tired from a sleepless night, my mind a little hazy. And yet, despite that, I am quietly remembering my favourite streets of my favourite city that I got to know with my favourite people, and that city, at least the loveliest part of it, is European down to last brick. It’s just outside that big window and it’s called Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. I love the narrow streets and tiny churches. I love how old, confusing and irrational the planning is, at least at first glance. I love its outright beauty and history, too, and how the only two means of transport that don’t seem out of place in those narrows streets are scooters and bicycles.
Imagine how strange it feels to also love what little of Manhattan I saw during my five day visit. For, in just about every single way, it’s the complete opposite of what I just described.
A few days ago my buddies and I made it to the Death Valley National Park, after a long and uneventful drive from Colorado. I have previously been to the valley several times before, but neither my friends, nor I have ever had a chance to visit the magical Race Track playa. After deflating the tires of our SUVs, we headed out to the valley to camp overnight, shoot at sunset the same day and sunrise next day before heading back. We camped at the designated campground at the end of the road, which was about 10-15 minutes of drive time away from the playa. We spent a good part of the late afternoon scouting for some good rocks, realizing just how vast the territory of the playa really is – it is miles long!
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the technical aspects of our gear that we forget that the most important things are the images we capture regardless of the gear we are using. Those images help to enshrine memories. They could be of family and friends, pets, events, or places that we have visited.
A Panasonic FZ28 super-zoom would never be considered as anything much more than a point-and-shoot camera by most folks. After all, its 10Mp sensor is a miniscule 1/2.33″ (6.08×4.56mm), with uninspiring dynamic range and colour depth, and very poor low light performance. But in my mind it will always be one of my favourite cameras because of the memories that it allowed me to capture. Like a sightseeing trip to Arizona and southeastern Utah.
Antarctica…. a place I never thought I would visit. A place on the bottom side of Earth where few people go. Most of my friends, when they learned I would be taking this trip, asked: “why Antarctica? What’s to see besides penguins, seals and ice?” For me and most photography friends of mine, Antarctica is on our bucket list. Not just for the photographic opportunities, but for the natural beauty all around that cannot be described by any word other than awesome. My partner in this adventure was my 34 year old, world traveler daughter. We are both amateur photographers, me more amateur than her. This was an extraordinary father-daughter bonding trip.
I recently returned from a vacation in Cuba during which I had the opportunity to photograph a few different species of heron using my Nikon 1 V2 and Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom lens. I ended up photographing birds hand-held for about 7-8 hours every day and my Nikon 1 gear proved to be an ideal combination to take with me as it was very light and easy to handle, and I avoided the fatigue that can set in when using larger, heavier gear.
There is nothing more appealing than grabbing your gear, draining the last vestiges of your current account, and heading off to some distant and exotic location. The more conscientious of us may look into the possible dangers to us or our gear and plan accordingly, even going so far as to take a painful premium on our insurance to cover the additional risk. Not only does this provide you with financial security, it gives peace of mind. Personally the latter is a godsend when I find myself in conditions to which I would normally never subject my equipment. Doing so enables me to get shots I would otherwise have never made. The picture below for example, was taken almost waist deep in a swamp with my old sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM.