Charleston on My Mind – Middleton Place & Cypress Swamp

Just about this time last year, I decided to splurge on a photography workshop in Charleston, South Carolina. For the first time ever I entrusted my tripod to checked baggage, packed all my other gear in a  carry-on bag, and headed off.

The day I arrived, I reached Charleston mid-day but I wasn’t scheduled to meet up with the group until around dinner time. So I decided to head to Middleton Place Plantation, which wasn’t on the group itinerary. The grand photo you see on their website must have been taken from an airplane – it’s stunning but I soon realized there was no way to replicate it as an earth-bound mortal. The mid-day sun was also a challenge. I finally settled for a shot or two of the garden areas not far from the house, where classic statuary dotted glades loaded with azaleas and Spanish moss-covered live oaks.

Middleton Place, Charleston

Live oaks provide shade to a garden area at Middleton Place Plantation.

The next day, we set off early (by 6:30 for a stop at the local Dunkin’ Donuts, which seemed to be on every other corner, practically) for Cypress Gardens. Blessed with 3-1/2 miles of nature trails and what is called a “swamparium” on its website, Cypress Gardens offered lots of gorgeous azaleas in bloom and a chance to try out some abstract approaches to shooting the water (a challenge for me, who is the Queen of Realism when given a camera).

Cypress Gardens, Live oak bark

Morning light on the side of a live oak in Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens, South Carolina

Pink hose-in-hose azaleas along the nature trail.

Cypress Gardens, azaleas, nature trail

Early morning light on a nature trail at Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens

Boat wake patterns

Our instructor, Tony Sweet, is a whiz at getting you to think outside the box a little. The photo above is one I probably never would have thought to take on my own. As I said, I’m a bit of a literalist when it comes to photographing gardens. But  even though I would never frame it or enter it into a competition, I like this image.

Next stop for the tripod-toting group: Magnolia Plantation – look for it in the next post.

Related posts: Less Becomes More

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6 Comments on “Charleston on My Mind – Middleton Place & Cypress Swamp”

  1. Melissa, I disagree, I actually would frame the boat wake picture, I think it is mesmerizing.

    • Melissa Says:

      How kind – and interesting. The patterns varied a lot (I shot a lot of these, with and without a tripod) and picked this one as my favorite. Another abstract coming up in the next post!

  2. gardeningasylum Says:

    Hi Melissa, I visited Charleston in March a few years ago and thought it was heaven – the live oaks draped with spanish moss and the camellias at Middleton Place and Magnolia Plantation are unforgettable. Lovely photos by you – hope your busy season is going well! Cyndy

  3. Melissa Says:

    Thanks for stopping by. Work has been hectic so it’s nice to disappear for a couple of hours picking photos and writing a post. I’m trying to stay a week ahead. It’s been chilly and rainy here so I miss Charleston twice as much!

  4. I have considered taking a photography class….maybe I will. I love the first photo with all of the moss hanging from the trees…it looks very Southern to my Western eyes. The azaleas are so beautiful as is your photography.

  5. Edith Hope Says:

    Dear Melissa, Well, you are obviously a total perfectionist since I have thought that all your photographs to date have been of the highest professional standards. I really did like the picture of the water and I hope that this will encourage you onwards to even greater achievements if this is not the kind of thing that you would usually capture.

    Upon my return from a brief holiday I found that you had added me to your list of favourite blotanists. I am really honoured and thrilled by this. Thank you so much. Happy Easter!!

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