Brookgreen Gardens: A Photo Essay

My wife and I have been to the Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) area many times over the past 20 years but it wasn’t until 2015 that we finally visited Brookgreen Gardens. To say that we were shocked with what we discovered there would be an understatement. We simply had no idea how extensive the grounds are and how much there is to see.

From a photography standpoint Brookgreen Gardens is a treasure chest of creative possibilities.

Rather than try to explain the photography potential of visiting Brookgreen Gardens I thought I would share some images that I captured during a single morning that we spent at the facility. My wife and I have already decided that the next time we visit the Myrtle Beach area we’ll be spending at least 2 or 3 full days at Brookgreen Gardens.

This short photo essay is divided into six sections in terms of the types of images that can be captured at Brookgreen Gardens: plants and foliage, landscape, birds, textures and details, and finally the onsite zoo. And, I’m sure that I’m only scratching the surface of the potential at Brookgreen Gardens. All of the images were taken hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 along with various Nikon 1 lenses.

I found that my Nikon 1 did a great job for me handing a wide range of subjects and the system definitely shows its flexibility at a venue like Brookgreen Gardens.

Plants and Foliage
Unfortunately our March visit was not ideal timing from a plants and foliage perspective, as most of the plants were just starting to come out of their winter dormancy. I imagine that in the late spring through to the early fall the grounds would provide a plethora of opportunities for flower photography.

Here is a small selection of some of the images I captured during my visit. The first two were captured using a Nikon 1 30-110 f/3.8-5.6 lens with a pair of Vello extension tubes.

NOTE: click on images to enlarge

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6

The following four images were all captured using a Nikon 1 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR lens.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 240.6mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 240.6mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 113.9mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.0
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 113.9mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.0
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.0
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.0
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6

Landscapes
Since we didn’t tour the entire grounds I know that I only captured a very minute part of the potential for landscape photography at Brookgreen Gardens. Here are a few images…

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 7.3mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 7.3mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/6.3
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/125, f/6.3

Birds
While there are some captive birds resident in the onsite zoo, the grounds at Brookgreen Gardens have a wide selection of bird life. I only had time to capture a few images out of the many bird sightings that occurred during my brief visit.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 269.7mm, ISO 400, 1/400, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 269.7mm, ISO 400, 1/400, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291.4mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6

Textures and Details
When I’m out with a camera I usually find myself being naturally drawn to the textures and details that I find around me. Things like tree bark, mechanical items, the shapes of leaves etc. all seem to catch my eye.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 51.2mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 51.2mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 13mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/160, f/5.6

I often play a little game with myself by looking for interesting objects in the most poorly lit area I can find. I use these items to challenge my hand-holding technique by trying to capture a useable image at as slow a shutter speed as possible. Here are two images taken hand-held at 1/6th of a second.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/6, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/6, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/6, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/6, f/5.6

Lowcountry Zoo
The onsite Lowcountry Zoo houses a range of animals that are native to the area. These include alligators, otters, red and gray foxes, bald eagles and owls to name a few. One of the highlights is an outdoor aviary that has a wide selection of heron and egrets flying freely within the structure. There is a boardwalk that runs over a marsh wetland that is incorporated in the aviary. This allows for some images that appear like they were taken in ‘wild’ conditions.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 224mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 224mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 120.9mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/6.3
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 120.9mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/6.3
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 224mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 224mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/6.3
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/6.3

There are also some farm animals in this section of Brookgreen Gardens.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/800, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/250, f/5.6

One of the personal highlights of my visit to Brookgreen Gardens was to see a gray fox up in a tree. Apparently this is the only species of fox that is known to climb trees, which they typically do to escape predators like coyotes. The individual in the following two images was resting in the crook of a branch, more than 20 feet from the ground.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/640, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 191.8mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 191.8mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6

The red fox in the following image was just opening its eyes after enjoying a nap.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/5.6

This final image of a bald eagle was captured by shooting up against the wire mesh of the enclosure.

NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 245.7mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6
NIKON 1 V2 + 1 NIKON 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 245.7mm, ISO 400, 1/500, f/5.6

I hope this short photo essay has given readers a reasonable representation of the many image opportunities available at Brookgreen Gardens. If you ever visit the Myrtle Beach area I’d recommend spending some time there with your camera!

Perhaps you’re a novice or amateur photographer wanting to improve your skills and understanding of photography and looking for a customized solution. Give us a call or pop us an email to learn about our photography coaching programs.

If you like this article and my web site, you can support my efforts when you purchase anything from B&H by using the Thomas Stirr affiliate link. Even the smallest purchases will help support this web site.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store by using promotion code
AMPLIS52015TS.

Article and all images are Copyright Thomas Stirr. No use, duplication or adaptation is allowed without written permission.

4 thoughts on “Brookgreen Gardens: A Photo Essay”

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the positive comment – always appreciated! If you visit Brookgreen I’m sure you’ll enjoy it immensely. My wife and I have already decided that the next time we visit the Myrtle Beach area that we’ll spend at least 2-3 full days at Brookgreen.
      Tom

  1. Another superb article and images. I’m usually absolutely stunned by the sharpness of your photos, but at least as I’m seeing them on my browser, a few are softer than I have come to expect (only a few!), which is mildly encouraging(!) for someone who just cannot ever get such brilliant results as you routinely do. Incidentally, I’m quite impressed by DxO for processing the images from the V1 and V2, but it does seem to me that the (auto) results from the (my) V3 are not as good … not as sharp and noisier. But I do like the V3, even if the add-on grip and add-on EVF add to size, weight and cost, the grip is difficult to mount, and works loose of its own accord, the micro SD card is bad news, and it is such a pity that Nikon do not produce a really serious version of their Nikon 1 range with even better controls; the lens range is still limited, but there are some excellent lenses in there, perhaps the main things missing are some more faster primes (though not critical for me), and a native macro (I use the 40mm and FT1).

    Thanks again for a great web site.

    1. Hi Mike,

      Thanks so much for your very positive comments – much appreciated! Let me know which photos you feel are a bit soft and I’ll see if I can fix them! Just let me know the photo numbers from the article. 🙂 It was really late when I got all of my work with these images completed and I may have messed up a bit.

      I’ve also found DxO OpticsPro 10 does a great job with my Nikon 1 files. The V3 files are likely to be a bit noisier as I also noticed this when I did my review of the V3. I now run all of my images through PRIME noise reduction regardless of the ISO at which they were shot. It’s interesting that I had the same experience with the V3 during my review period with it…the grip did loosen off on its own accord. I have three Nikon 1 primes: 10mm f/2.8, 18.5mm f/1.8 and the 32mm f/1.2. Other than for video or for very specific shooting situations I find that I hardly ever use them. One of the lenses for which Nikon has filed a patent that I am excited about is a 9-30mm f/1.8-2.8 VR zoom. I think the zoom and aperture range will really help extend the functionality of the Nikon 1 system for a lot of people. It would be nice if it was a constant f/1.8 but I can understand that would likely have made the lens large and added a lot of cost to it.

      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *