Monday, April 24, 2017

Savannah, Part V: Tybee Island

I'd not heard of Tybee Island until a year or two ago, when it was the target destination of a couple shopping for a home near the ocean on HGTV's "Beachfront Bargain Hunt." The show follows and records couples as they shop for homes to buy on or near beaches in their dream locales, and on this particular episode, a couple wanted to live on Tybee Island.

As we prepared to leave Savannah and head north to South Carolina, Lee Ann and I decided to stop at Tybee Island first to check it out for ourselves.

Although temperatures had cooled by about 15 degrees (they had been in the low to mid-70s in Savannah the previous three days), it was still sunny and mostly gorgeous when we arrived. We had heard almost all visitor parking on the island is metered, so we stopped first at the Tybee Island Light Station and Museum, hoping we could stray from there to explore the beach afterward.

The bad news the day we got there was that the lighthouse stairwell rail was undergoing repairs and cordoned off to visitors hoping to climb to the top to enjoy the vistas and panorama. The good news was that museum staff, hoping to curry favor (and perhaps spur merchandise sales), invited visitors to park in the lighthouse station lot while doing what we had hoped to do while we were there -- explore the rest of the island (or at least as much of it as we could). We also got free admission to Fort Screven across the street and access to the fort's Battery Garland museum.

It was from the top of the fort that I looked back and took the photo of the lighthouse and surrounding property that you see leading off the post. The elevated position also offers nice vistas of the ocean and beach.

As always, click on any picture to pull up a larger, sharper version, which is particularly important if you access the blog from a mobile device. To view a full gallery of my shots on Tybee Island, click on the link in this sentence.

Photo geek stuff: I shot everything you see here with a Canon 6D equipped with a Tamron 28-300 f/3.5-6.3 Di VZD VC lens using a polarizing filter when outdoors (I did without the filter when indoors for the Battery Garland museum shots). I bracketed all shots for three exposures, melding a good number of all three for each composition in post-processing using Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software. In some situations where using HDR software was impractical, I composed a shot with single frames.

Above: This probably was my favorite photo from the day at Tybee Island. I wasn't sure if this dad and two kids were racing toward shore to scatter the seagulls or whether it was a stab at genuine family frolic with no ulterior motive (the skeptic in me leans toward the former explanation), but I happened to turn toward this scene at just the right moment.

The lighthouse in optimum lighting and color (above). Much later in the afternoon, I caught the shot below of the sun positioned behind the lamp. From the ground, it looked as if the lamp were turned on and not revolving. 

Above: Some people get a charge out of playing with gulls by tossing food in the air, and the hungry gulls play along. I saw this on a couple occasions at Tybee, and would see it again later in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. From a photographer's perspective, it presents an opportunity to capture a bird spectacle photo.

Above and next three below: These swings are scattered throughout the beach, and I made a point to collect evidence that people use them. The shot above includes the lighthouse in the composition, while the others were taken from the opposite direction.

Above: This photo was a close runnerup favorite photo of mine from Tybee Island. Bird and man in pursuit of different goals while strolling the shoreline, the gull feeding on a jellyfish stuck in the sand, the man simply indulging a joy of being near the water.

Above: I don't end up liking very many of the "gulls in flight" photos that I attempt when I'm at the beach, but I do keep trying. This is one of the rare ones that I have been happy with.  

When I saw this barrier of boulders, I spent about a half-hour trying to capture the perfect "wave crashing against rocks" shot, experimenting with different settings (mostly to vary the shutter speed). I humbly admit that "perfection," if it's possible, still eludes me. This simply was the best of the lot, and I use the term "best" quite loosely.

I think the bird above is an Anhinga, a species found in warmer climates and one that must air dry its wings after each water submersion because unlike most other waterfowl, it does not possess oil glands to waterproof its feathers. I would see more of these later on our trip in South Carolina. The bird below perched on this post not far from where Lee Ann and I dined at the North Beach Grill on Tybee Island.

Ever since our trip to Wrightsville and Atlantic beaches in North Carolina in Summer 2014, Lee Ann has me primed to look for and compose shots integrating tall, beachside grass blades. The photo above is was one such attempt at Tybee Island. Below is the pedestrian bridge from the parking lot to the north beach, near North Beach Grill, where we had lunch. It shows, in the background, one of the vessels that passed through while we were there. We did not see any sailboats, however.

Above: An attempt to illustrate the vastness of the beach and water.  

The lighthouse property contains several buildings, one of which is the lighthouse keeper's residence quarters (above). Admission to the attraction entitles visitors to tour the home, where the two shots below were taken. There are quite a few more of the keeper's house interior at the full gallery. I included the one of the old phone in this post because I hadn't seen one of those in a long time and figured many visitors here might be in the same boat.

The exterior of Fort Screven (above) and interior shots (next two below) of exhibits in the Battery Garland Museum.

From the top of Fort Screven, vistas such as the one above and two photos below can be enjoyed. The one above shows the metered parking lot and a portion of the North Beach Grill as well as the ocean. The second below features the wooden pedestrian access to the beach from the parking lot. 

Next up: Charleston revisited

Previous posts in this series:

Part I: Savannah's Forsyth Square

Part II: Savannah's old-city neighborhoods 

Part III: Savannah's Riverwalk

Part IV: Savannah's Bonaventure Cemetery

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