Saturday, May 21, 2016

Trying to take in all of Charleston, S.C.,
in just 4 days is fun, but no easy task

There is a lot to be said about how one day isn't enough time to appreciate a new place you visit. Sometimes three and a half days isn't enough either, which I learned last month visiting Charleston, S.C.

The city, South Carolina's oldest and second largest city, is rich in history, color, architecture, dining and attractions, and you need more than just three days to appreciate it all.

On the plus side, we had beautiful weather the whole time there. In fact, during our 15 days in both North and South Carolina last month, we saw rain only once. That was midway through our stay in Cary, N.C., and we hadn't planned anything for that day anyway.

Previous posts detailed our trip to Fort Sumter and the wonderful cuisine we enjoyed at the restaurants that Lee Ann and I went to in Charleston. A subsequent post will be devoted to our trip to Boone Hall Plantation outside Charleston in Mount Pleasant, although there are several other plantations and gardens in the area worth visiting. Perhaps another time.

This post is about our time exploring the Charleston peninsula, most of which was spent in the heart of the commercial district along and around East Bay Street. Some of our tour of the city was spent on a 15-minute carriage ride, but most of what we explored and discovered was accomplished on our own, on foot.

Our walking tour included several images along Rainbow Row, a series of 13 row houses in a one-block stretch of East Bay Street painted in colorful pastel hues (pink, green, yellow and blue). The structures, between Tradd and Elliot streets, constitute the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. Rainbow Row's wikipedia entry details its rich history.

The optimum time to photograph Rainbow Row is morning, because all the homes are along the west side of East Bay Street. Because they face east, therefore, the rising sun lights them up. Unfortunately, the only time I was near them was in the late afternoon, so my collection of photos from Rainbow Row aren't as brilliant as those taken with a favorable sun lighting.

The home shown in the photo leading off the post is one of my favorites in my collection. It can be found along East Bay Street, not far from Battery Park, itself a historic landmark in the city. Situated at the southern tip of the Charleston peninsula, stretching from the Ashley River to the Cooper River (which create the peninsula), the area now used as a pretty, tree-filled city park served as a coastal defense during the War Between the States. The park also is home to relic artillery and cannon balls.

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 shoots in Charleston, 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. 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 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. Among photos processed from single frames were the boat shots in the harbor, the children romping through the fountain spray and the closeup shot of the horse. 

Note: In the days ahead, I'll be filing a post on my visit to Boone Hall Plantation in suburban Mount Pleasant. S.C. I'm not finished processing all of those photos yet, so you might not see any of them for a few days.  

Above and below: Shots looking into Charleston Harbor in the late afternoon of my first night in Charleston. When I compiled my previous post on Fort Sumter, I'd forgotten I'd taken the shot below, which has much friendlier lighting on the fort than the shots I took in the morning hours from the tour boat two days later. 

Above and next two below: Before we even got out of the free parking lot on cobblestoned Gillon Street the night we arrived in Charleston, I grabbed two different perspective shots of the same house (above and below), and a shot of the gated arched entry nearby next to it on Gillon.

Above: A street bordering Waterfront Park on the east end of Charleston peninsula.

Above: A foundain in Waterfront Park.

The fountain above, at the northwest end of Waterfront Park, would serve as a backdrop to an array of shots Lee Ann and I took of kids frolicking in the water. The two below are just samples of my stream; there are quite a few more in the SmugMug gallery. 

Above: The pier leading to the harbor at the north end of Waterfront Park.  It was from the perpendicular section at the end (evident in the sunlight at right) that I took the second shot of the boat above with Fort Sumter clearly next to it in the background. 

Above: The history of St. Philip's Church, South Carolina's oldest congregation, is quite extensive. The first St. Phillip's was established circa 1680 on the grounds that now hosts St. Michael's church. After fire destroyed the second St. Phillip's church in 1835, the congregation moved to its current site at 142 Church Street.

An exterior of the Rainbow Market (above), whose walls and decorations (below) can be found in bright hues.

Above: An outdoor vendor at Charleston's blockslong City Market.

Above and next two below: A look inside one section of the city market. 

Above and next three below: Near the city market are the stables and boarding/drop-off stations for the carriage rides.

Two views of the United States Custom House, the one above taken from the ground at twilight the first day I was in Charleston, the one below taken a couple days later from a lounge and bar on the top floor of a hotel across the street. 

Above and next six below: Several of my shots along Rainbow Row's 13 row houses on East Bay Street.

A gate that grabbed my eye (above) and a long alley accessible drive to homes in the neighborhood near Rainbow Row. 

Above and next 10 below: Examples of the differents styles of architecture in the homes and churches. The piazza style depicted above, for example, features a door (far left) that leads to an open porch. 

Above: A car parked in the neighborhood near Rainbow Row.

Above and next four below: These shots were taken at Battery Park, at the southern tip of the peninsula. The park features displays of artillery and ammunition and is adorned heavily by stately oak trees. The fourth photo, of some people on a bench, was taken near dusk along the park's southern perimeter.

Above: Church graveyards like this could be found all over Charleston proper. As our carriage driver and guide told us, in Charleston, final resting places like this are called graveyards only if they're on the grounds of a church. If they're not on church grounds, they're known as cemeteries. 

Above: The outside of Mills House Wyndom Grand Hotel along Meeting Street at dusk.  

Above: Our carriage ride driver said this building, the Powder Magazine and Museum on Cumberland Street, is the oldest original structure still standing in Charleston. It was completed in 1713, and through the years has survived countless fires and hurricanes that managed to destroy and/or force the rebuilding of all of the city's other original structures at some point. 

Above: An iPhone shot of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge over the Cooper River, which we crossed on Wednesday en route to Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant. 

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