Three Hour Walk in Historic Charleston

The final thing my wife and I did before returning home from our trip to South Carolina was to drive down to Charleston. We had not seen the city for well over 15 years, but still had very fond memories of our previous visit. After getting some pamphlets at the information centre we headed out for a three hour walk in historic Charleston.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step

The old part of the city is by the harbour and it is a truly memorable experience to tour this area. There is a free trolley that has a number of pick up/drop off points along a designated route, or you can choose to hire one of the open air, horse-drawn carriages and hear commentary from an expert guide.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 22mm, efov 58mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 22mm, efov 58mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step

My wife and I calculated that it would be about 4 miles or so to go from the visitor centre along the trolley route down to the harbour and back. Since we had about 3 hours for our visit we decided to walk through the historic district. We both welcomed the exercise and doing a walking tour afforded me more image opportunities.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/800, ISO-160, -0.7 step

As we took our leisurely stroll the history of the old portion of the city was almost overwhelming. There was so much to see I didn’t bother trying to take notes, relying instead on my Nikon 1 GP-N100 to log GPS coordinates on my images for future reference.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Our visit was very abbreviated, but if you have the time there are a number of guided tours you can take, museums to investigate, and various stately mansions to view.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 20mm, efov 54mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 20mm, efov 54mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step

There are also evening ghost tours and other specialized outings you can attend. Pre-planning a visit to Charleston is certainly the recommended approach. My wife and I both agreed that if we visit South Carolina again in the future we will definitely stay in Charleston for a few nights so we can have a more in-depth experience of the city.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 14mm, efov 38mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-200, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 14mm, efov 38mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-200, -0.7 step

We ambled through the old market where various artists and other vendors display their goods for sale. Rather than focus on all the displayed items my eyes were drawn to the repeating patterns in the roof trusses.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step

When walking through this type of area which is chock-a-block full of wonderful architecture it is always fascinating to note what attracts our attention…like the gently curving wrought-iron railing in the image above.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Or a V-angle leading into a stone corner post and a stately, pillared building beyond.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 29mm, efov 77mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 29mm, efov 77mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step

The colour and texture of this tree bark leapt out at me and created such a strong contrast to the building behind it I just had to press the shutter to capture it.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/9, 1/1000, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Some buildings, like the one above, had a commanding presence. I used perspective control software to make adjustments to many of the images in this article.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-220, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-220, -0.7 step

There are a number of small parks and fountains along the waterfront where you can stop and rest, or do some people watching.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 23mm, efov 61mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 23mm, efov 61mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step

The plants are resilient and seem to have a mind of their own.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 16mm, efov 43mm, f/7.1, 1/125, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 16mm, efov 43mm, f/7.1, 1/125, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Sometimes even overrunning stairs and other structures.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 13mm, efov 34mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-200, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 13mm, efov 34mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-200, -0.7 step

The details on the homes captivated me. It seemed that there was something to photograph at almost every turn. Wonderful door knockers…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 100mm, efov 270, f/8, 1/320, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 100mm, efov 270, f/8, 1/320, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Door buzzers…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 68mm, efov 182mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO-250, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 68mm, efov 182mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO-250, -0.7 step

There were all kinds of wonderful details on the grounds of the stately homes…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 86mm, efov 231mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-560, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 86mm, efov 231mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-560, -0.7 step

Letters carved into stone…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 41mm, efov 109mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 41mm, efov 109mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-160, -0.7 step

When I looked up intricate wrought-iron caught my eye…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-320, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 15mm, efov 41mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-320, -0.7 step

There was colourful history beneath my feet…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-200, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-200, -0.7 step

Welcoming stairways…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/400, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/400, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Open garden gates…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step

And beautiful gardens and pathways…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1 1/250, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 19mm, efov 51mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO-360, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 19mm, efov 51mm, f/7.1, 1/60, ISO-360, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step

And repeating patterns that I love so much…whether they are made up of posts…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 14mm, efov 36mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-280, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 14mm, efov 36mm, f/8, 1/60, ISO-280, -0.7 step

Second story windows with their wrought-iron trim…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 24mm, efov 65mm, f/5.6 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 24mm, efov 65mm, f/5.6 1/200, ISO-160, -0.7 step

Or rows of shutters and planter boxes…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-160, -0.7 step

There is formality as well as elegance in the architecture…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/7.1, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step

As funny as it may sound, one of the hardest things for me to capture was a full building in all of its grandeur. Somehow a row of parked cars always seemed to block part of the view of these beautiful buildings…but towards the end of our walk an opportunity presented itself…and I was able to capture the following image before the overcast conditions turned into rain.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6mm @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/8, 1/160, ISO-160, -0.7 step

All images in this article were shot hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 with a 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens, and were produced from RAW files using my standard work flow of OpticsPro 10, CS6 and Nik Suite. Exposure compensation of -0.7 was used to try to hold highlight details.

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11 thoughts on “Three Hour Walk in Historic Charleston”

  1. Sir Tom,

    Excellent photography! From that all ‘seeing eye’ of yours resulting in excellent compositions to processing that wrings the best out of the scene and the camera.

    I really enjoyed this gallery.

    Go Well – Leo

  2. Thomas I am commenting yet again. These pictures are beautiful compositions. Simple photos but elegantly shot. I would like to hear from you in layman terms as to what “leading the eye on to” means. Will focusing on one thirds be used in these photos? Simple questions from a novice but I am learning a lot. Will my d3200+35mm f1.8g also produce such sharp images as this? On the repeating patterns where exactly should be the focus? I have seen such places but my compositions have at time gone awry.I did not get the depth you got. And those welcoming stairs is a nice composition. Nice idea there. Tips from pros are a great learning and excuse my beginner level questions. But would like to know more. And reiterating again that these images are beautiful.

    Srikanth

    1. Hi Srikanth,

      It is always great to hear from a reader and to try to respond to questions! It is difficult to answer all of your questions here, but if you have a bit of time to read some of the articles under the “Composition” heading on my web site you will find a lot of articles, with image examples, that may be helpful for you.

      If you read the four articles below they will likely answer many of your questions about the Charleston article..
      http://tomstirrphotography.com/improving-image-eye-flow
      http://tomstirrphotography.com/creating-and-using-leading-lines
      http://tomstirrphotography.com/using-foreground-elements-in-landscape-photography
      http://tomstirrphotography.com/using-the-rule-of-thirds-in-composition

      Think of ‘leading the eye on’ as trying to compose your image in such a way that it forces the reader’s eye to go where you want it to go as they look at the image. The ‘pink staircase’ image for example…I purposely cut off the detail at the bottom of the left-hand side of the staircase and the green shrub to force the reader’s eye to go to the right. Then, if you look at the pillar with the number ’25’ on it…I cropped the picture slightly to ensure there was nothing distracting on the top right portion of the image. This has the effect of forcing the reader’s eye to the left. These two crops form a visual ‘pinching’ of the image to force eye flow up the stairs and to the door. You’ll also notice that the bottom of the staircase was left ‘open’ at the bottom right of the image and the pattern of the stone side-walk wraps around the bottom of the staircase. This creates a grey coloured flow around the right hand side of the pink staircase. This creates visual ‘relief’ and encourages the reader’s eye to flow up the staircase towards the door.

      In terms of where to focus and resulting depth-of-field much of this will depend on the camera and lens with which you are shooting and your familiarity with it, as well as how various composition elements are situated in your image. Setting up your camera on a tripod and capturing successive images of the same scene using the identical focus point but different apertures will allow you to see the relationship between aperture and depth of field in a practical way. You can also do the same kind of exercise by keeping your aperture constant and moving your focus point, then noting differences in how the images look.

      The ‘sharpness’ of an image is affected by a host of factors including whether the sensor on your camera has a low pass filter, the amount of detail that your lens is able to capture because of its optical properties, and how the image has been processed in post. Typically our eyes judge ‘sharpness’ to a large degree based on edge acuity. While I do apply some sharpness in post (typically Global at 1.20 and Detail at 70 with OpticsPro 10) I don’t go overboard with them. I use contrast, micro-contrast, and adjust black and white sliders to try to enhance edge acuity.

      Where all of this leads is simply this…whatever camera and lens(es) you are using is simply what you are using. Experimenting with what you own will help you understand how to best shoot with it in terms of achieving the depth-of-field you want in your images. Then, experimenting with how you process your RAW files in post will help you get the most out of each file. The ‘look’ that each of us is trying to achieve is a personal decision…and how each of us gets there can also vary dramatically by photographer.

      Tom

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