One of the fun things about traveling is discovering how different a place may look in person. This may seem obvious, but with the technology each of us have at our fingertips, we can really familiarize ourselves with a foreign city just using Google images or streetview. Some years back, I used streetview to virtually walk the route from the Copenhagen train station to my hotel. It was a fantastic way to make sure I wouldn’t get lost when I got there, slightly dazed from a long flight and subsequent rail trip. But virtual technology is still no substitute for the real thing, especially outside of dense cities.
On a road trip last summer, I decided to visit what promised to be a photogenic beach at Botany Bay, a former slave plantation. It looked to be a short drive to the coast once I turned off the main highway. “Coast” is a word that had a particular meaning to me, as in a cleanly defined border between land and sea. But in South Carolina, the Atlantic’s brackish tendrils reach well inland. Long before I reached the “coast,” I was passing estuaries, rivers and swampland. The seashore here didn’t seem to be that clean border I had always seen, rather just the place where land had at long last given up and succumbed to the ocean.
Even once I had parked, I needed to hike another half mile along a plank path across a marsh to get to the beach. But once there… wow. Driftwood beach is like an alien landscape, with twisted and tortured limbs strewn across the sand and rising here and there from the waves. I spent a couple hours here in the sweltering midday heat and would have stayed longer if not for the several hours of driving still waiting for me that day. Black and white seemed an easy call here, with the exception of the last shot. But, more on that one later.
As spectacular as the beach was, the last mile or so of dirt road leading into Botany Bay was just magic. The trees lined the road so densely that they created a green tunnel in some stretches. No B&W here for this glorious piece of the American South.