Tag Archives: TIPS

Waiting For The Light

A repost from 2016

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Tuesday, then photos/photo tips on Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

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“There is only you and the camera.

The limitations in your photography are in yourself,

for what we see is what we are.” — Ernst Haas

Sunset on Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA.  Post sunset using a tripod.  The colors were in the light, but enhanced with Photoshop.

Post sunset using a tripod. The colors were in the light but enhanced with Photoshop.

By Jim Byous

I love the light in Savannah, Georgia.  It’s different – daylight that is.  The light in California can also be beautiful but it can also be stark and sharp.  It wraps the subject differently.  In Oklahoma it is different.  Gorgeous, but the colors and shadows and hues for an image are harder to read.

But in Savannah, it can be pre-visualized.  It’s not predictable, but pre-viewable.  Over the years I learned to watch the sky on the night before or during the late afternoon just before sunset.  The sky will give a hint of what could come. Faint tints of magenta, violet and other hues of light in the red range will often peak and wave before most eyes can pick them up.  The purpose of a beautiful photo is not to represent what is recorded on the film or sensor.  It is to record and represent the emotion found at the scene by the observer, then convey it in the image to the viewer.  That is a factor that changes recording into an art.

Many years ago, as a young photographer, I heard photo-icon Ernst Haas speak.  He talked of one of his inspirations, painter Claude Monet and his description of the light in paintings.  Monet saw the light when most did not then put it down on in oils.  Haas was able to see the same light.  It takes time, learning to see it, but it is worth the wait.  I’m still learning.

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Battlefield Park in Savannah at sunrise. Several shots were taken within a few minutes. They were pre-planned and marked so the images could be made in one setting.

Much of art is in timing.  In all art forms, timing can be a hallmark of excellence or a stamp of rejection, a point of beauty or one of mediocrity and can determine the success of the work – or of its failure.  The leap of a ballerina, the swing of a baseball bat, a stroke of pigment across a wet and differing color, timing can dictate the value and desirability and the essence of art.

View of Skidaway Island from Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA immediately as the sun dropped below the horizon.  This was the light without tinting, but enhanced with Photoshop.

View of Skidaway Island from Isle of Hope, Savannah, GA immediately as the sun dropped below the horizon.

Life is like that.  We are put here with free will.  We all are born with differing mediums; oils, granite, speech, dance, light, mathematics.  Each person is the artist and designer of their destiny, the ultimate portrait of ourselves.  Each of us creates the outcome when taking a dull, blank plane of canvas or a shapeless lump of goo or a pile of junk and rubbish and creating something wonderful by turning it into something or nothing or letting it decay into oblivion.  We all start the same, wet and slimy, tied to the past by the cord that fed us and nurtured us and brought us to the beginning.  We all make ourselves what we are.

However, there are always outside factors.  The nudge in the wrong direction, the ball that curves, the paint that will not oxidize or dry, influences to change life’s direction or obscure the purpose.  The art of life is to know the differences or learn them as we progress.  We can wallow in the dung or we can use it as fertilizer that will help us grow and reach upward.  The art of art is to act similarly, throw out the crap and keep the work that grows inspiration in others but especially that nurtures inspiration in you.

IPC from Kehoe House attic.
This shot is from the Kehoe House attic. The sun was setting behind the Independent Presbyterian Church, but not quite in full color bloom. After a short wait the color and the clouds came together.

Photography is like that. Sometimes catching the moment is instant. Sometimes it requires patience – lots of patience – to hold on beyond the this-just-doesn’t-quite-get-it phase to the shoot-fast-and-shoot-often period.

Sometimes in life and in art, you see it forming.  You perceive it and plan for it.  It can be complex.  It can be simple.

Wait for the light.

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© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

Tags: Photography, Ernst Haas, Monet, light, art, Savannah

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Time short in Savannah, GA? Five tips on the best photo spots.

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Time short in Savannah, GA?  Five tips on the best photo spots.

By Jim Byous

What!!?? You only have one weekend to visit Savannah?  You gotta have pictures… but you want something different.  Finding the right spot for pictures can be difficult when you are visiting a place for a short time.  In Savannah, like anywhere else, there are many angles and views.  Unfortunately, most travelers’ photos tend to look like everyone else’s.  Here are five tips on how to make shots interesting with a few places to find them during your weekend photo hunt.

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Looking up at Jepson Center for the Arts on Telfair Square.

Having been here for the past twenty-five years helps.  I’ve searched hard and often for vantage points that are different.  Still, the five best photo locations in Savannah are hard to describe.  Not because they aren’t there, but because there are so many.  The city is most picturesque.  And, not because I live here, but because it’s a freekin’ beautiful place… even in the heat of August.

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Tybee Island is a short drive from Savannah’s Historic District and offers excellent opportunities for photographers.  Here on the Strand, Hurricane Irene created a fantastic backdrop as she rolled up the Atlantic Coast.  Colors can vary widely from morning to noon to evening, just be patient and enhance a bit in Photoshop.

Here we go:

First Tip, Get Close.

First.  Get close.  River Street and the Factor’s Walk area are great places to find different, less-often photographed shots, even though hundreds of thousands of tourists pass them each year.  These two thoroughfares run parallel to the Savannah River and serve as a tourist haven.  There is an abundance of history and dozens of shops for souvenir trolling that will occupy others who are traveling with you.  Scout along the retaining walls that appear to keep the town from sliding into the water. They have great features to capture.

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Ballast stone were used to build walls along what is now called Factors Walk. Before the Civil War, it was called River Street.  Postbellum the wharves were connected to make an access road on the water and the old “River Street” became Factors Walk, named after the cotton and shipping factors’ offices walkovers that span the gap.

Most were built in the mid-1800s with segments going back to the century before.  Stone from around the world can be seen; limestone with chert nodules from Devon England, basalt from Italy, coral from the Caribbean.  They have unique textures and shapes that are pleasing to look at while telling their own version of history.  Here too are cobblestone pavers that make interesting images.

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An African-shaped stone serves in the cobblestone ramp behind City Hall.

The stones came in ships as ballast, rocks in the bottom the ships to balance the load and keep the ship upright.  The stones were off-loaded on the docks and the city resold them for building materials.  Walls, cobblestone streets and buildings were constructed over the years using them.  Later in the 1800s ship captains realized they could substitute pig iron that could be sold to Savannah’s iron foundries and the negative-cash-flow stones were replaced with a money-making commodity.

Go Up!

Second.  Find a parking garage and take the elevator, the stairs, or drive to the top floor.  Not too many buildings are open for the user to image seekers, but parking garages usually offer a good, “birds-eye” perspective of nearby streets.  Three of the following images were made on top of the State Street Parking Garage at Drayton and State Streets.

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The Lutheran Church of the Ascension and the tower of the Federal Courthouse on Wright Square.  It was captured from the State Street  Parking Garage’s west end.

However, there are several multi-story walkways and garages in Savannah, so getting good vantage points for overall shots of different squares will mean lots of steps…  or if you are like me, the elevator.

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World Famous Leopold’s Ice Cream Shop taken from the east end of the State Street Garage. Taken from Oglethorpe Square parking garage, east end.

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The Cluskey Vaults on Bull Street Ramp taken from the upper walkway above Factors Walk at dusk.

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The Talmadge Bridge and Marshall House flag from the north-center section of the State Street facility.

Some attendants are grumpy about folks standing around, so shoot quick and go for the next site… or parking garage.  There are many walls to look off of, giving interesting perspectives to the streets and people walking below.

Go Down and Look Up

Third. Go down and then look up.  Sometimes finding a good and unusual view is simply bending your knees.  By doing so you can combine near objects with those more distant.  Or, you can give a perspective that most folks do not think of catching.

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Dottie the Trolley is River Street’s free transport queen.  Her schedule varies since construction, maintenance and construction often interfere with availability.  Here, a bent-knee, lower-angle shot brings the upper stories of the historic warehouses into the composition with the trolley and cobblestones.

Sometimes it means looking up from a different location.  Factors Walk offers many such views of the “skyline” buildings along the river.  Its mid-way location between the lower, River Street and the upper, Bay Street buildings can give a great perspective for shooting.

 

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Here, City Hall’s gold plated dome is viewed from Factors Walk-behind  Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. The gold is said to be from Dahlonega, Georgia.  The stairway that the young lady is climbing is on the site of the original port crane built by James Oglethorpe in 1733.

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The often photographed, Lafayette Veranda at the Owens Thomas House takes on a new perspective when shot from a low angle.

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Looking up on a narrow street sometimes offers a great shot of detail on historic buildings as is seen on this picture of the frieze of the Federal Court House on Wright Square.

Go Where and When Other Don’t

Fourth.  Go where and when others don’t.  Most visitors follow a set pattern; visit River Street, take a carriage or trolley ride, and walk a few squares.  Some venture out to Tybee Island and the beach.  Highway 80 takes them from the Historic District to the island through Romerly Marsh where most do not see the photographic possibilities.

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Romerly Marsh at Lazaretto Creek at mid-day.  The partial overcast sky creates great lighting for capturing the grass, water, and sky.  This was taken around 10 a.m. from the boat ramp off of Highway 80.

Savannah is surrounded by marshland that is accessible on the main thoroughfares.  Stop and take a look, especially in the early morning and late afternoon.  The beach at Tybee is similar.  If you can schedule to go through or visit at sunrise or sunset

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A pelican waits for the sun as it rises off of Tybee’s North Beach.  Sunrise photo sessions are often overlooked by visitors who, in a hurry to see the next attraction, miss the morning’s light show.  Photo by Becky Byous

you’ll have the best opportunities.  Most sunbathers arrive later in the morning and leave just before sunset to avoid traffic.  Little do they know that most everyone else think the same way which leads to… traffic.

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Kudzu on the Ogeechee Canal, located on the west edge of the Historic District.  These types of areas often show signs of litter and trash.  That’s what Photoshop was invented to take care of.  Just do it.

Look for the unusual

Fifth.  Look for the unusual.  As you walk around town look for things most people don’t record on their camera.  Sometimes you may almost trip over them, sometimes they are so ordinary that a closer look is all you need to get a great photo.

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Drain grating at Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden is molded in a gear motif to celebrate the Kehoe Iron Foundry’s place in history.  Most passersby do not notice the unique design.

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Flamingo on Bull Street adds an interesting perspective of Savannahian humor most visitors miss.  Photo by Morgie McCormick.

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A traffic mirror over a walkway between the Visitors Center and the Battlefield Park/Railroad Museum sites adds a different perspective that most will miss.  This location is believed by some historians to be the site where many Patriots were buried in a mass grave after the 1779 battle, The Siege of Savannah.  The monuments to the fallen can be seen in the mirror as well as to the right of the frame.

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This view through a window at Clary’s Cafe was a grab shot as an older lady was attempting to ketchup to the rest of her group.  (No charge for the bad pun.)  Clary’s is noted for its appearance in the Clint Eastwood directed the movie, Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil.

That’s the five ideas and many more areas to find them, but remember, ALWAYS get the main overviews of the sites.  You’ll want them to illustrate and add context to the differing views you find on your visit.

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You can’t miss with a shot of ships coming and going next to River Street.  On busy days they pass regularly on their way to the Port of Savannah and offer great images in any light.

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And be sure to catch the overall shots of important places.  The Owens-Thomas House is a near, must-see.  It’s one of many house museums in the historic city.

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Y’all come see us and bring your camera.

 

© J Byous Company 2018, All rights reserved

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Tips from an old photographer

Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net. We post history/travel every Monday, then photos/photo tips each Thursday.  Please click the Follow button (below right) for updates on Southeastern Bound.

Tips to make your travel pics sing… A re-post from the past

by Jim Byous

Calculate, anticipate, concentrate.

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Sunrise plus 30 minutes. Gearin Road near Dahlonega, Georgia.

Mental notes were being jotted down in the back of my noggin’;  light, sky, color, the fall of shadows.  I had traveled down the same roads in North Georgia a number of times over several days.  As is normal on any other trip, at home or on assignment, I am always searching for pictures.  And, I always carry my Galaxy S 5 cell phone to capture scenes that I may want to photograph later with my Nikon. — In some instances, I don’t need the Nikon, but that’s another story.  And no, neither company pays me to mention them. —  Anyway… while traveling  I watch the track of the sun and shadows… if I have time.  Later I retrace my route and when the conditions are right I grab as many images as possible. It’s a bit like harvesting ripe fruit in one outing.  Here’s the first part of my usual game plan.  This series will run throughout the next few blogs here on Southeastern Bound.

Find the right locations

If possible scout ahead and plan your route.  On a recent trip, I had passed this ancient mill site,  photo 1, several times on trips to and from the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia.  The old Gilstrap Mill is on the road of the same name a few miles from town.  Each trip the light is high, but the location and composition was natural and easily seen.  The challenge is that the light does not “sing.”  The sky is blue but dull.  If time was tight I probably stop to capture what I could.  In this instance, it is not an issue.  Later in the evening clouds drift over the area.  After a weather check, I make plans for a sweep through the area the next morning.  Clouds should be dotting the sky in the pre-noon hours.

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Photo 1, Sunrise plus 90 minutes.  The old Gilstrap Mill near the gold mining town of Dahlonega, Georgia,

I’m not a morning person but getting great images sometimes requires a sleepy, early-morning, groping walk to the car.  As I drive down the drive the dawn slowly brightened.  As my tires hit the main road the sun’s first rays come over the ridge to the east.  A few blinks-and-yawns later the lighting over the hilly terrain pumps a dose of adrenaline into my system… either that or the coffee finally kicked in.  The day is started.  Great photos seemed to be on every turn.  So many shots, so little time.

Systematically I drive, shooting different locations as the sun slowly crawls above the horizon.  I make sure my route keeps the mill scene within the acceptable time for lighting – the time from sunrise to sunrise-plus-two hours.

As a historian and photographer, this is a primary location on my list.  The building has been partially restored by the owner with the historical integrity intact… a handsome relic that seems to freeze time.   Snuggled in a gap beside a sloping hill, a bend in the road and the briskly-running, oddly-named Wahoo Creek, it represents a time in Georgia when many of the small rivulets in the area were harnessed to grind grain.  It is now one of the few mills still standing.

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Photo 2.  The frame of the Gilstrap Mill water wheel remains in the shadows. The watercourse is now dry and flanked by trees, one decayed to a  stump.

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Sunrise plus 10 minutes.  The intersection of Gearin and Gilstrap Mill Roads, a different angle of the same hill in photos 3a and 3b.

Both history and aesthetics are important to the records that I make.  Too many historical images are simple uninteresting shots, images used for scholarly reports with little concern for the artistic qualities of the scene.  I want to record the building but to also create an image that will look great on my – or any – wall, photo 2.  As is true in real estate, in landscape photography the most important thing is location, location, location.  That and light.

Therefore, like finding the right storefront on the right street in the right town, finding the correct picture location can be broken down to within a few feet.  You must find the area, then the site, then the spot, then the square foot that makes the best image in the correct light.  In photo 3 and 4, the difference in showing power lines next to the trees was a matter of moving closer and several feet to the left.

Find the right spot at the spot

You will notice the straight cut of limbs on the tree to the right of the frames.  This was done by the power company because inches outside the edge of the photo the wires were obvious.  My first position of choice, away from thorns and spine laden plants, was directly below the lines.  Unfortunately, there was no way to get the photo without them showing.  I had to buck up and push into the brush to get this image.

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Sunrise plus 120 minutes, light cloud cover in the east blocking the direct light. The Moon with a Lady Reclining Over the Trees, photo 3a on left, was mildly difficult to capture. Positioning under power lines, guide wires, brush, and a barbed-wire fence required a determined photographer… who carefully watched for snakes.  Taken in at the same stop along Gilstrap Mill Road in another season, photo 3b shows the same trees complete with power lines, wires, brush and fencing for comparison.

Calculate, Anticipate, concentrate.

Calculate the light for your photos, the angle, the intensity.  Where will the sun move if you wait or come back on another day?  Will clouds enhance the scene?  My most frequent suggestion is “pray for clouds.”

Anticipate which locations you might want to capture at different times.  Will the shadows be better in the morning or in the evening?  Which is the most important scene to catch?

Concentrate and consider all of the above conditions, locations, and options.  To grab a memory card or film roll of great shots, plan it out… even if you have to plan on the fly.

Coming soon, Tips on composition.

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Southeastern Bound

 Visit our main website at SoutheasternBound.net

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Jim and Bec in Charleston

Two Boomers travel the USA looking for realistic, low-cost places in interesting and historic places.  The have traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific finding hidden, less-known sites that inspire stories and pictures.

​Jim Byous writes about travel and history with a Southeastern perspective. In his life, he has been a cowboy, a construction worker, a fireman, a janitor, a journalist and photojournalist and now a historian/traveler. “I’ve had many jobs and done many things,” he says.  “But, I’ve always had a passion for history.” An expert in the history of Savannah, Georgia, he tends to write “a bit more on that topic.”  However, he loves to travel and tell others about what he and Becky have seen, “through the eyes of an old guy.”

​Rebecca Harrison Byous, aka Becky, aka The Beckster, is much younger and is a native of Georgia who was raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.  A writer and photographer she founded Weddings for Warriors, Inc., an organization of citizen volunteers who provide free weddings and vow renewals to active duty military.  She shares Jim’s love of history and finding interesting stories to tell.

​They travel with their blog-writing Chihuahua, Gus, and review pet-friendly businesses including restaurants that have gluten-free menus from a mature view of the world.

 

Jim in Panama
Jim in Panama, 1998.

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