Monday, September 29, 2008

Mystery Beetle in Upstate South Carolina

This weekend I found a beetle that I haven't been able to identify, nor have I ever seen it before. Of course, this isn't saying much on both accounts. I'm hoping that someone out there can help me to i.d. this beautiful specimen. My first guess is that it is a member of the scarab family but I could be totally wrong. It was about 1" long and was in some leaf litter near a yellow jacket nest (most likely coincidental but you never know).

I'll be passing this link to Ted over at 'Beetles in the Bush' and put him to the test. Hopefully, he'll be able to tell me more about it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The Nature Conservancy Protects Land in Pickens, South Carolina

For nearly a year now, I've been providing images to The Nature Conservancy and Upstate Forever to aide their conservation efforts at the Nine Times tract in Pickens, South Carolina. This tract is one of the richest botanical areas in the Southeast and the largest remaining contiguous tract of the land in South Carolina's Upstate. Plants such as Gorge Goldenrod and one of South Carolina's only two populations of monkshood (see image) exists here. Last week, I received the good news that The Nature Conservancy has purchased 560 acres of the property (Little Pink Mountain) from Upstate Forever and will now be managing it going forward. This opportunity was a result of a concerted effort between Upstate Forever & TNC among others.

Although there is still 1700 acres left to purchase, I feel confident that the remaining land will be protected from development. This is a great win for South Carolina and I'm so thankful to have been able to help in my own small way and I look forward to continuing to creating a photographic record of the property going-forward.

Read the official press release here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Jumping The Rails in Georgetown

A week ago, I went down to Georgetown, South Carolina to photograph a couple of properties for an upcoming book project that I'm working on. This has been a unique experience for me because I, like most photographers, tend to spend weeks or months working a location when it comes to book projects. In this case, I have have had only a couple of days per property. This has certainly been challenging to say the least but in some ways it has really been a great learning experience. I have worked in the advertising industry for a number of years and have learned from my time as an art director that, when your client is flying you and a photographer hundreds of miles away to photograph a location, you don't have the option of coming home without any images. So, there is something refreshing and liberating about arriving a spot and accepting the fact that, no matter what, you've got to capture the essence of where you are at.

The down side to this is obviously that conditions, such as lighting, view-point, etc, can often be less than optimal. However, it also forces one to make images that you would possibly pass over in a better situation. The image that I've included above is of a blackwater branch that borders the property that I was visiting. "Visiting" is somewhat misleading because, when I arrived, there were heaps of "No Trespassing" signs and, so, since I'm not a fan of buckshot I had to rethink my strategy. It then occurred to me that one of the big reasons that the property was preserved was to protect the riparian corridor for this wetland area. I then realized that if I jumped the guard rail along the highway I would be able to gain a fairly decent view of the branch and as it turned out I was, thankfully, the only one who ended up firing a shot.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Blackwater, sunburns and (no) gopher tortoises in Aiken, South Carolina

On Sunday a friend and I –photographer Greg Kiniry– had a chance to spend the day photographing a couple of different properties in the vicinity of Aiken, South Carolina. The shoot was for a book project that we are both involved with that will hopefully be completed later this year. After meeting up with Greg a little after 5:00 am (okay...I was late), we rode down on a very foggy morning to the southwestern midlands of our state.

It is amazing how coastal this area appears although the ocean is a few hours away. Longleaf pines and wire grass dominated much of the areas that we were focusing on. One of the spots that we visited was the Aiken Gopher Tortoise Heritage Preserve in hopes of finding and photographing one one of these amazing and threatened animals for the project. Unfortunately, the heat was very intense by the time that we made our way to the preserve and I'm sure that any tortoises in the vicinity were eight feet underground along by then.

One of the sites that we were able to photograph well was a small creek/beaver pond that flowed into the south fork of the Edisto river. This beautiful blackwater wetland reflected the clouds like an ebony mirror and really made it very easy for us to create some nice landscape images. The water was full of wildlife including an anhinga, turtles and warblers. Although early morning and late afternoon are typically best for landscapes, I have found that with an interesting sky early afternoon works really well for these types of wetlands.