Friday, April 14, 2017

Savannah, Part I: Forsyth Square

Savannah, Ga., had been on my travel "wish list" for at least 10 years, so it was with great satisfaction -- and enjoyment of beautiful weather -- that I spent several days there in early March. But it was just the start of a protracted East Coast travel odyssey that went well into March. The itinerary included two stops in North Carolina, as well as a return to Charleston, S.C., and first visits to Tybee Island, Ga., and North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

In trying to devise a plan to present my images in blog posts, I came up ideas that were all over the place. I kept asking myself, "Where do I begin?" I really didn't shoot much in North Carolina, yet I still managed to take thousands of photographs. The pictures you'll see over the course of the next few posts will come from all the other places mentioned in the previous paragraph.

After kicking around the "Where do I begin?" question for several weeks while I processed the images, it occurred to me just today that I would not only start in Savannah ... but in a specific place in Savannah -- Forsyth Square -- and to lead with the image you see at the top of the post. This photograph brought me the most joy on the trip -- because of its spontaneity, and because of the wonderfully charming, albeit brief, exchange Lee Ann and I had with these gentlemen.

We came upon them almost just as you see them -- sitting on a bench in Forsyth Square, by far the largest and most distinguished among Savannah's 22 neighborhood parks, or "squares." Most of the parks are square-shaped or marginally rectangular; Forsyth, at the southern tip of the series of squares, is decidedly rectangular and extends six blocks long (north and south) and two blocks wide (east and west). But I digress.

I thought "portrait" the moment I laid eyes on these nattily dressed gentlemen. Lee Ann spotted them at the same time I did, and without us even conferring, Lee Ann hustled ahead of me, smiled at the two men, and politely asked if she could take their picture. In response, one of the men (I forgot now which) smile, pointed at me and made a joke about how I might not appreciate her doing that. I quickly told them that I would not mind at all, and that taking their portrait had also occurred to me ... but I was much slower to process how I would approach them to do it.

The two men kindly consented, and before I had time to size up a composition, Lee Ann had her iPhone in place and took several photographs with it. When it came to my turn, one of the men noticed I had a Canon DSLR (a 6D) and a strap attached to it labeled with the Canon logo and said something in joking fashion (I forgot exactly what) indicating how my gear was much more serious.

I used the trunk and arching lower branch of a large oak tree behind the bench where they were sitting to sort of "frame" the subjects (right). But weeks later, when I was back home and brought the images up on my computer screen during post-processing, it occurred to me to apply a crop and see how that looked. I don't mind the original composition, but I much prefer the cropped version, which is why I picked it to lead with at the top of this post.

After I finished my shots (which I took in short order), I showed the men the pictures on the display on the back of the camera and then the four of us introduced ourselves. I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot the man on the right's name, even though I asked him to repeat his first name because I thought he said it was Jay. He corrected me and said it was James. I just don't remember the last name now. The man on the left's name is John Harrington. I wish I would have asked them if they would have liked to receive copies of the photos, but ... I didn't. So if John and James ever see these photos again, it'll be because someone they know will have stumbled upon this post.

The remainder of this post is devoted to the rest of my images from Forsyth Square, where you'll find the city's marquee fountain as well as several monuments, an amphitheater, scores of elegant oak trees (and spanish moss dangling from them), floral arrangements and open space where people lounge and take in the sun.

As always, click on any picture to pull up a larger, sharper version. To view a full gallery of my shots in Savannah (including photos that will be appearing in subsequent posts), click on the link in this sentence.

Photo geek stuff: I shot everything you see here with a Canon 6D equipped with a Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L lens. I bracketed all shots for three exposures, melding most of all three for each composition in post-processing using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software.

Approaching the fountain in Forsyth Square (above), and the elegant parade of oak branches and Spanish moss (below) lining the sidewalk along the park's east side. 

Above: A different section of the walk along the eastside of the square looking from the opposite direction.

Above and next two below: Wide views and a detail shot of the fountain.

 Above: The amphitheater.

Above and below: Examples of monuments in the square.

Examples of floral displays (above and below) and the open meadow (second below), where people feel comfortable lounging.

Above: A cafe in the middle of the square that includes -- much to Lee Ann's delight -- a Starbucks station. 

NEXT UP: The other squares in Savannah, sprinkled throughout the old historic district. 

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