I had come across hints before this point, but it was at this moment, trying to capture this late afternoon scene at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in the Lowcountry of South Carolina that I realized something had changed. This had never happened before. I admit, it caught me a little off guard. For the first time, at least with this strength of conviction, it hit me that my vision was exceeding my camera’s ability for capture. It had always been the inverse: the camera had more capability than I knew how to utilize and for the most part, what I saw I was able to capture. Now, standing beside my mother (who shoots with a newer pro-level body), I couldn’t help but notice the ease with which her camera was handling the dynamic range of this late afternoon scene, while mine was tossing blinkies like a block party, blown highlights and shadows dancing like crazy on my LCD screen. I saw what I wanted to shoot, but without using some new-fangled bag of tech tricks and computer wizardry (not my cup of tea), I couldn’t capture what I saw.
Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m not a gearhead. I don’t believe in amassing gear; it doesn’t do a darn bit of good for your photographs in my opinion. If you want better photographs, work on you! Your head and your feet are the most drastic and quickest ways to increase your photo quality, regardless of what camera you use at the moment. Learn to scout. Put in time moving around landscapes with your camera. That alone will do more to upgrade your stock than any purchase. I followed my own medicine for almost a decade now, always consistently behind on tech, shooting defunct bodies and coming late to the table on post-processing software. However, I’ve been honing my skills on composition; on getting myself and my camera in front of better stuff at better times. I’ve learned to use the gear that I do have competently, instead of just wanting newer and better stuff. And I think for the most part that it’s worked. My only regret at times is not having a larger native file to work with. I currently shoot with a 12MP Nikon D700 and I love it, but, it might be time to move on. I was embarrassed to do it, but for this shot, I borrowed my mother’s camera–and I liked it.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens claims to be the oldest public garden in America, opening its doors in 1870. Situated along the Ashley River in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens follows the romantic-style, with an emphasis more on natural pathways and forms versus the more formal and manicured gardens around the area. From Live Oaks draped in Spanish Moss to abundant flowering Azalea, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is one of those places that despite being a tourist magnet, you’ll want to return to again and again as the opportunities behind the lens are plentiful and the representation of the Spring season hard to match elsewhere!
Prints available of this photograph at Fine Art America HERE!
See a full gallery of South Carolina images HERE!