Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Myrtle Island, South Carolina
A favorite and idyllic setting exemplifying the area's countless estuarial rivers, creeks and marshes, Myrtle Island is found deep in South Carolina's Low Country, nestled in a crook of the May River as it begins its final run into the Calibogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The locals know it as Nanny Cove, and you can get there easily by bicycle or auto from downtown Bluffton via Alljoy Road and Myrtle Island Road. Looking east and west, this salt marsh and creek are well oriented for amazing sunrise and sunset compositions. Be sure to include a wading bird, pelican, dolphin or osprey in your image, and even the occasional eagle. Parking is limited, and the locals will line up there at the bridge in golf carts to enjoy the sunset and a cocktail, joining the occasional fishermen who work the creek for red drum and crabs.
This image was captured at Myrtle Island near Bluffton, just past sunset during late summer. In the summer months, humidity here is high so that morning and afternoon clouds are the norm. Late-afternoon thundershowers are frequent, accompanied by high cumulus clouds and at times lightning strikes, so be ready for a quick retreat at the first clap of thunder.
Dress for very warm temperatures and high humidity, and bring along plenty of water and bug spray to ward off the gnats and biting midges.
I'm drawn to the wildness of the Low Country and its boundless estuaries and ecosystems where time has mostly stood still since the Native Americans inhabited the area. My equipment must be versatile for capturing the area's vastness, with a combination of expansive lands, waters and skies. I also like to be prepared for both abstract compositions and wildlife action shots. Near sunrise and sunset, it's most useful to employ a graduated filter for balancing earth, water and sky tones, as well as controlling reflections on the water. My principal choices are the B+W #502 color graduated filter and Singh-Ray grads; the 3-stop, soft edge and the 2- and 3-stop reverse grads are always with me. My Canon EOS 5D and the EF 17-40mm ƒ/4L pair is perfect for landscape work. The full-frame sensor is well suited for spatial expanses and foreground emphasis. For medium and long telephoto work, the Canon EOS 7D and EF 100-400mm ƒ/4.5-5.6L produce amazing detail and color when capturing the nuances of abstracts and wildlife shots, even at higher ISO settings. The camera's 1.6x magnification factor also increases the practical reach of this lens. A reliable and sure tripod is indispensable for low-light levels during sunrise and sunset, of course, and my Manfrotto tripod and ballhead and quick-release plate fill the bill nicely.
The east-west orientation of Nanny Cove provides excellent sunrise and sunset opportunities from late spring through early fall. For this, you'll want to time your visit to coincide with high tide, plus or minus about two hours when tidal water fills the marsh area. The wading birds are most active while the tide is rising or falling, however.
Contact: South Carolina Department of Parks & Tourism, discoversouthcarolina.com
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