The Bone Yard at first light, South Carolina

I just returned home from a 10 day trip shooting the low land coastal regions around Charleston, South Carolina. On the first morning of the trip, I visited an area known as Bone Yard Beach on Edisto Island. This amazing barrier island on the Atlantic Ocean has an area of trees that are literally stranded on the shore of the beach. At high tide the trees are submerged in water and the waves break all around them. In all my years of shooting, I have never witnessed anything like this before and I was struck by the pure beauty and strangeness of the location. While waiting for the sun to rise in the gloomy pre-dawn light, I couldn’t help but think of the surrealistic paintings of Salvador Dali. It was with this inspiration in mind, I that I let my eye and imagination wander from the literal into the surreal. The images below off a glimpse at this amazing place and hopefully capture the essence of the area. I I’ll let you be the judge of that!

The Last Stand, Botany Bay, South Carolina

I captured this image about 15 minutes before sunrise under the glow of moon rise. I carefully positioned my camera angle and height to frame the moon between the branches of this dead snag. After determining the exposure and setting my focus and DOF, I waited for a wave to break around the tree before releasing the shutter. I was lucky that the wave formed a very nice line running diagonally along the lower 1/3 of the frame. The moon was rising fast and by the time the next wave came in it was too high in the sky to frame in-between the limbs of the tree.

Bone Yard Beach Dawn, Edisto Island, SC

After making the first shot, the sun began to get closer to the horizon and the light show was about to begin! I quickly ran back over to another set of trees I had scouted earlier in the morning set against the exact position of the rising sun. I made sure to frame a composition that allowed separation between the standing trees and fallen ones to the left. After composing the image, I set my focus and aperture in anticipation of the color in the sky to come. As the light began to peak, I took a quick spot meter reading of the sky at the horizon and then in the upper left hand corner. After that, I metered the reflected light in the beach and determined that I needed a 3 stop ND grad to hold the highlights in the sky while exposing for the much darker beach and reflections. I used the Singh Ray Daryl Benson Reverse Grad. This held all of the detail in the brightest portion of the shot ( the horizon where the sun was rising) while tapering off into the beach and upper portion of the sky rendering the scene as naturally as it appeared to the eye.

I’ll be back with many more images and stories from the beaches and plantations of the low country south in the next week or two to come, so stay tuned!!