Trestles to Trails

Peak Trestle 4

Tuesday I had one of my quarterly meetings in Columbia with the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) Tech Leaders’ Roundtable. I normally try to drop in to visit my mom on the way back from these trips, but this time she was out and about. So, instead, I decided to see if I could find a few spots to try out the new camera. There are a couple of neat places just off the interstate – just a quick detour away – that are full of history and scenery.

My first stop was to the west of I-26 between the towns of Little Mountain and Prosperity. I first spotted the old Wheeland School in the photo layer of Google Earth several years ago, and have made regular visits to it since then. I figured it would be a good test subject.

Wheeland School 1

Wheeland School 2 Continue reading “Trestles to Trails”

A Stonecutter’s Tale

Headstone B&W with Texture

I first noticed this when we made our trek to the Promised Land with Glynda and Houston. At Cedar Springs ARP Church several of the more elaborate headstone slabs in the cemetery had the carver/artist’s name inscribed at the bottom.

Old Headstones at Cedar Springs

J Hall Signature

WT White

Then, when Dwight and his family traveled with me to Kingsville in Lower Richland County we stopped by the historic Congaree Baptist Church. There, on one of their headstones, was one of the names I had spotted at Cedar Springs – W. T. White.

W. T. White

Then, last Saturday on our way back from the Edisto River, Alan and I stopped by the old Pon Pon Chapel of Ease near Jacksonboro. There, at the bottom of one of the old slab stones, was the signature of J. White.

Signature Tombstone

I began to wonder if W. T. White and J. White were related, and also wondered how their work became so wide-spread across South Carolina’s historic churches. Turns out they were part of a dynasty of stone carvers that did much, much more than just carving headstones. Continue reading “A Stonecutter’s Tale”

Remembering Dave

Monday morning we learned of the passing of David Pass, fellow singer and long-time manager of the Greenville Chorale.  Dave sat next to me in rehearsal for many years, and usually stood next to me in concerts.  In addition to being an excellent singer, he had a quick wit, and was always ready with a … Continue reading Remembering Dave

Edisto River – The Jacksonboro Passage

Edisto River 11

This trip was supposed to have been last week. The second Saturday of the month is when our Lowcountry Unfiltered group normally hits the trail. However, an event last weekend involving most of our group caused us to postpone the trip. That freed me up to participate in the Tame the Tyger Race last weekend.

So, this weekend rolled around, and our group headed down to the Edisto River. This time we were headed to a new stretch that ended just shy of the ACE Basin. We were going to do a thirteen mile stretch from Martin’s Landing to West Bank Landing through the historic district of Jacksonboro.

I loaded up the boat and gear Thursday night and headed down as far as St. George after work Friday. The weather wasn’t looking promising, but I decided to take the chance. When I got up Saturday to head down to the river a thick fog covered the area. However, it looked like it was going to burn off later. Driving through this historic area I wanted to just stop and photograph everything, but knew I’d need to get on down to our rendezvous at the take-out. I drove on through Jacksonboro, and turned at the old Wesley United Methodist Church onto Hope Plantation Lane.

Wesley United Methodist ChurchHope Plantation Lane Continue reading “Edisto River – The Jacksonboro Passage”

A New Camera Strategy

New Camera and Coffee

My new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 arrived yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really put it through its paces, but so far I’m impressed with the few photos I have taken. The LX5 won out over a whole slew of contenders, and the decision to get it means a new strategy for my day-to-day photography.

The contenders included the following:

  • An exact replacement of my S70 in the form of a refurbished S70
  • An updated Coolpix, such as the S100
  • A different small camera, such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10
  • The Canon S100
  • and the one I bought, the Panasonic LX5

Continue reading “A New Camera Strategy”

A Good Time to Explore – Photo Editing

Always good advice

For lunch I decided to stop at our nearby hibachi chicken place. This was the fortune in my cookie. Of course, I had to eat it.

I snapped the photo with my iPhone, and was surprise at how well it turned out. What really punched it up, though, was the application of a photo filter in Aviary.

Which brings us to the issue of Aviary and Picnic. For many years if you wanted to edit photos online in Flickr, Picnic was the way to go. It was offered as a menu option in Flickr, and had some basic editing and enhancement tools in the free version, and more filters and other editing tools in the paid filter.

Aviary, on the other hand, was an excellent suite of multimedia tools, encompassing music editing as well as image editing. It was pretty much browser-based, but stand-alone from other hosting options.

Then came Instagram, and everything changed. People got hooked on using vintage filters to quickly change photos from an expensive camera into something that looks like it was taken with a cheap camera.  Effects that used to require Photoshop and some technical expertise could be replicated in seconds with Instagram’s filters.  It seemed everyone wanted in on the action. Continue reading “A Good Time to Explore – Photo Editing”

Taming the Tyger

Crowd of Kayaks

Saturday I joined 191 fellow kayakers for the 13th annual Tame the Tyger river race. The race is sponsored by the Tyger River Foundation and the Spartanburg County Parks and Recreation Department.

I’ve run the Tyger River several times, but have never participated in the Tame the Tyger event. It falls on the second Saturday of April, and that’s when I usually have a Lowcountry Unfiltered paddling trip. This year our LCU trip got postponed for a week, so I had the weekend open.

The event consists of an actual race, where participants are timed, and participate in various categories. There is also a “fun float” for those wanting to run the river, but not compete. Since I’m dreadfully out of shape and have let my whitewater skills lag a bit I signed up for the fun float. Live music and a barbecue dinner round out the event at the take-out. Continue reading “Taming the Tyger”

Camera Dilemma

Tom with Camera

The camera gods have not been smiling upon me lately. On our recent excursion to Shoals Junction my trusty Nikon D50 DSLR’s mirror got locked in the UP position for several panic-filled minutes. The camera was already showing its age, and I’ve been putting away a bit of cash for a replacement, but the incident made me think that might come sooner rather than later.

Then my little Nikon S70 decided it was going to die on me. Well, not quite die, but give up the will to live. Every image is now fuzzy and the colors aren’t right. I tried tricking the auto-focus into working correctly, but with no luck. Even under optimum conditions the images were washed out and out of focus. I think it’s in worse shape than my D50.

That’s put me in a quandary as replacements are concerned. I know I’m going to replace the DSLR with another Nikon. I’ve got good lenses, so it makes sense just to replace the camera body when the time comes. I also like the control and flexibility a DSLR provides. But what about the little point and shoot? Continue reading “Camera Dilemma”

Warblers, Cabins and UFOs

Beidler Forest-009

We spent the night in St. George. It was far enough away from the Charleston and coastal areas for us to find a room, but fairly close to our morning destination. The plan was to hit Beidler Forest as soon as it opened at 9:00 and spend as much time as possible there.

We had planned to visit yesterday, but when we checked the calendar on their website we saw that three fifth grade classes were going to be visiting. I’m sure it was going to be a great visit for the kids, but that meant it would probably be too noisy for our tastes.

Laura and I have been coming to watch birds at Beidler for many years now. The 2 mile boardwalk winds through an area of Four Holes Swamp, and one of the main attractions is the bright yellow Prothonotary Warbler. We hoped to spot a few, as well as some other birds on our visit today.

As we pulled into the parking lot a family with teens and pre-teens unloaded. The kids were loud, and we feared the worst. However, as soon as they got on the boardwalk they got quiet. Their parents had told them that if they hoped to spot any wildlife they would have to walk quietly. Even so, we took the boardwalk in the opposite direction so as to maximize our chances of seeing something. Continue reading “Warblers, Cabins and UFOs”

Old Dorchester and ACE Basin

Old Dorchester-037

I’ve been able to take off on a few excursions over the last couple of months, but Laura really hasn’t had a chance to get away. With her mom in Florida, and since we had at least one day in common for this spring break, we decided to escape down to the Charleston area. However, we weren’t interested in the city itself, but the outlying areas to do a bit of bird watching. Our goal for the first day was the ACE Basin, and Beidler Forest for the second day.

Driving no the interstate was pure madness. It seems that everyone was out for a weekend away. We decided to get off of the interstate and explore some of the side roads. Laura’s comment was that “South Carolina is much prettier once you get off the interstate.”

We drove into Orangeburg, then headed south. On Highway 61 we saw a sign for the community of Sixty-Six. I’d never heard of it before, so we decided to check it out. It was an old railroad community that didn’t turn out to be much. I may have to do some further research. We did drive through Branchville, which has “the oldest railroad junction in the world.” Laura wasn’t sure about that claim, though, so I filled her in on the history of “The Best Friend” of Charleston, one of the first railroads in the US. Continue reading “Old Dorchester and ACE Basin”