Sunday, May 8, 2016

JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, N.C.

Ever since summer 2014, when I made my first visit to North Carolina, that state's beautiful landscape, expansive Atlantic Ocean beaches and friendly climate has drawn me back. And I have been back, several times.

The latest came last month, when I spent about 10 days in Cary, a community within the Technology Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), after which I drove another five hours south to spend four days in Charleston, my first visit to the state of South Carolina.

The early portion of the trip was designed to babysit for Lee Ann's 17-month-old granddaughter while the girl's parents could get away for a four-day vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico, which is a little ways south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula.

In previous visits to North Carolina, among other places, I made stops in Winston-Salem (July 2014) to photograph the campus of Wake Forest University and Chapel Hill (July 2015), home of the University of North Carolina. Those pursuits evolved as an extension of something I've enjoyed doing in Indiana since 2009, a project I've dubbed Game Day, in which I spend a Saturday at a small Hoosier college or university campus that fields football teams and photograph not only the football game there that day, but also the campus landscapes.

We had a such long stay in Cary this time that I decided to try and squeeze in side trips to both North Carolina State University in Raleigh and Duke University in Durham, and I succeeded on both counts. While in Raleigh, I also swung by the JC Raulston Arboretum, and my pictures of that collection of plants and flowers, in this post, start off my chronicling of the April trip to the Carolinas. The arboretum was recommended to me by a high school classmate, Kris Jarantoski, who is director of the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which boasts one of the largest botanic garden memberships (50,000+) in the country.

The 10-acre Raulston Arboretum is named for its late founder, a NCSU faculty member who began the arboretum in 1976 in tandem with a graduate student, Fielding Scarborough, who was seeking to design an arboretum for his master thesis. The arboretum promotes itself as a nationally acclaimed garden having one of the largest and most diverse collection of plants in the Southeast United States. Even though the arboretum is 3 miles or so west of campus, it is affiliated with NCSU's Department of Horticulture Science, which explains why its website URL ( ) carries an NCSU domain.

Future posts from my trip will look at the two campuses I mentioned above, some of the culinary indulgences enjoyed on the trip, downtown Charleston, and separate Charleston-related excursions to Fort Sumter and Boone Hall Plantation. These pictures of Raulston and a few others also can be found in my galleries at

Photo geek stuff: I bracketed exposures for all of my photos at the arboretum so I could process them in Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software afterward. I used a Canon 6D equipped with a Tamron 24-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens. Most of the three shots for each image were taken at ISO 160, boosting upward accordingly to adapt to darkening available light. I used an aperture of f/8 or f/9. The shutter became the variable camera setting to render my different exposures. 

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