Saturday, May 28, 2016

Those magnificent trees ...
You can't help but notice them

One thing you cannot help but notice when entering the grounds of Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, S.C., are the trees. There are hundreds of them, and they're most everywhere.

The most striking cluster of trees, however, are the perfectly positioned "avenue of oaks" lining both sides of the dirt drive leading to the mansion's gate, illustrated by the photo leading off this post.

Even if the trees were the only thing going for this very popular tourist attraction, I'd make a visit there at least once. The avenue of moss-draped oaks were planted in 1743 and took two centuries to meet in the middle, but the spectacle is well worth seeing.

Only a portion of the plantation has the mansion, access drive, slave cabins and gift shop. The largest section of property is used for raising crops, including strawberries, blueberries, grapes, tomatoes, pumpkins, corn and pears. The plantation passenger tour vehicle shows visitors all of this as it meanders through its 738 acres, although the total acreage once was much larger and began almost exclusively to raise cotton. There is still a very small patch of ground near the parking lot devoted to cotton (first photo below), a nod to the plantation's historic origins.

The plantation's house and grounds have been used for settings and backdrops in television ahows (NBC's "Days of Our Lives" soap opera and ABC's miniseries "North and South") and motion pictures (the movies "Queen," "The Notebook" and "Forest Gump.")

As always, click on any image to view a larger, sharper version. That's important especially if you're viewing this post on a mobile device. To view a full gallery of images from my shoot at Boone H all Plantation in Mount Pleasant, visit my galleries at

Photo geek stuff: I bracketed exposures for all of my photos used for this post so that I could process them in Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software afterward, although there are several photos below processed from single frames, especially those taken while on the tour vehicle exploring the various crops grown on the plantation. I used a Canon 6D equipped with a Tamron 24-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens and a polarizing filter. Most of the three shots for each HDR 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.

Note: This is my final post in a series from a recent visit to the Carolinas. 

Above: A close up of the modest cotton crop grown on a plot near the parking lot. 

The mansion above sits at the opposite end of the avenue of oaks shown in the lead-off photo. Between the mansion and the long avenue is the gates below. 

Above: Near the gift shop not far from the main gate to the mansion is the old cotton gin house, whose suspect structural integrity has required a battery of support beams to keep it standing.   

Above and next three below: The cabins where slaves stayed in the early years of Boone Hall. Each of the cabins now is used to tell a different story or theme about black history. The third photo below is a look inside one of the cabins, which provides information about slave participation in religious services.  

Above and next three below: The Gullah Theater, located at the end of the row of cabins, has live presentations of Gullah culture

Above and below: The smokehouse was where plantation owners preserved and store meat.

 Above and next four below feature shots from the floral gardens near the mansion. The last two integrate the gardens with the mansion.

Above: This long-arching tree branch frames a meadow where horses graze (next two below) along the left side of the avenue of the oaks. 

Above: Another arching branch on a tree adjacent to the horse meadow.

Above and next seven below: Not far from the Gullah Theater is this waterside compound, which has been rented by scores of brides and grooms to accommodate weddings. It apparently motivates some visitors to conjure thoughts of romance (third photo below). One noted wedding held here, in September 2012, united celebrities Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively

Above and next three below: Distinguished trees (including one heavily adorned in Spanish moss) behind the mansion. No photos were allowed inside the mansion.  

Above and next three below: Single-frame shots taken during our vehicle tour of the grounds, which included a trip down a heavily shaded but narrow dirt road, views of several crops raised (and sold) on the grounds and play area for children. When I was there in late April, strawberries were being picked and sold there. Our tour guide told us that to avoid theft, pickers are weighed with their baskets before they pick and when they check out.   

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