Sunday, June 2, 2019

Inside Charleston's Historic KKBE Synagogue

A place of worship with its own gift shop and museum. I have seen that only once before: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

The gift shop and museum are just two of the many unique qualities that struck me about Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim (KKBE for short) synagogue at 90 Hasell Street in Charleston.

Another one is how the synagogue's columned entrance does not face the street. This is due to the Jewish custom that synagogues must face east toward Jerusalem. While a lovely layout amid trees and other greenery, it did pose a challenge to photograph.  You can back up only so far before hitting a wall. So what you see (right) is the widest shot I could get. No big deal but, again, a unique feature of this very unique place.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Old Golf Course's Wonderful New Purpose

I was pleasantly surprised recently to drive into the nearby King's Grant neighborhood to find that the long-closed golf course is finally open again.

No, it not a new and improved golf course, but a wonderful new nature park.

The venerable golf course, which was one of the older ones in the Charleston area, shut down maybe 10 years ago.  It has been a protracted decade or so of legal issues, development stops and starts, and now finally- and thankfully- 38-acres of the former 18 hole golf course is now a lovely park for King's Grant residents.

The Charleston paper last month ran this article that hit on the latest developments. The headline says the park will be open to the public. But this sign at the entrance says it is only for King's Grant homeowners.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Mystery Spring Visitor

I just photographed this pretty bird in my backyard. It’s not a familiar face so I’m excited to confirm what it is.

I suspect this is a Summer Tanager, the female version.

It came to the feeder for a minute than darted away to a  nearby branch that was particularly well lit by the setting sun so I got a nice picture of it against the dark backdrop.

Then it came down then it flew down to the birdbath and I got this nice shot of it is looking right at me!

 I’m going to turn to to try to find out for sure who this visitor is!

As always, whatbird's community bird identification forum confirmed this bird to be a female Summer Tanager. I had not just one but one or two additional verifications.

Days later, as I update this post, I haven't seen a Tanager return, much less the vibrant red male one. But I'm still so happy to have photographed this lady!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Easter Visit to Charleston's St. Michael's Churchyard

On Easter Sunday, after a fine brunch at Oak Steakhouse, Alesia and I walked around for a bit in Charleston's illustrious Historic District. One stop was the graveyard at St. Michael's Church.

The church, Anglican then Episcopal, is the oldest in the Holy City. It was first built on this spot (71 Broad St.) in the 1680s. I snapped some photos and then later put together a slideshow using the fun, free and easy Kizoa platform.

St. Michael's Churchyard

I am having students in one of my college courses create a Kizoa project like this.  I hope they have fun with it and do something creative and cool!

This was a fun find at St. Michael's Church.  This stone has the name Lee Harwood who lived from 1901-1982.  Perhaps a distant relative?  Not sure about that. Harwood is not too uncommon of a name.  So maybe Cousin Lee, maybe not.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Inside the Walls: The Coming Street Cemetery

I have driven on Coming Street for years and never really noticed this spot as I head to I-26 to go home.

Only fairly recently did I know that behind this high, foreboding and gloomy looking wall is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Charleston.

It is, in fact, the oldest Jewish cemetery in the South and one of the oldest in America.

This is the Coming Street Cemetery. On April 1, with my College of Charleston “Beyond the Grave” students, I was for the first time within the dark walls.

We were met by two guides, Randi Serrins (left in this photo holding a picture) and Anita Moise Rosenberg.  They spent about an hour with us and were excellent historians about this special place.

If you are interested in setting up a tour, call 843.723.1090, contact Rosenberg at or Serrins at

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Fun Bear Island WMA Visit Highlighted by Encounter with Roseate Spoonbills

Bear Island is a vast wildlife refuge comprising 5,385 acres of protected land and waterways
I photographed and videotaped a "bowl" of Roseate Spoonbills in a shallow canal Sunday, March 10, 2019, deep in the Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. This vast preserve is located about 45 miles south of Charleston in the wonderful ACE Basin.

It was the neatest encounter on a day full of bird activity.  I'll post photos later. Here is the video I took, put together on Kizoa, that runs one minute 15 seconds. Photos follow of this unique creature, other birds and scenes from the special place that is the Bear Island WMA.

Roseate Spoonbills
It's clear where the name spoonbill comes from in this photo

Friday, March 8, 2019

"Gravetrotting" at Bethel United Methodist Church

My College of Charleston students and I had a good mini-field trip to nearby Bethel United Methodist Church last Monday night.  I say "mini" because we only had to walk up Calhoun Street past the Addlestone Library to get to the historic 19th-century church.

Bethel's small but symbol rich churchyard (photo by Harper Richards)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Researching My Spanish Ancestry- the California Connection

I recently mined, other online sites, my parents' memories and a brother's Southern California location to put together this probing post about my late Grandpa Frank. 

Below: Frank Gomez, always a dapper dresser and Frank and Anna, the early years of their long marriage


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Red Moon Eclipse a Sight to See!

It was well worth going outside in the cold late Sunday night to get a glimpse of a rare celestial event. This was the so-called "Super Blood Wolf Moon" lunar eclipse.

I took this photo from my backyard area at around 11:45 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019

"During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth blocks the light from the sun, giving the moon's surface a red glow, which many refer to as a red moon," according to

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Foggy Morning

I dashed outside my house- camera in hand- early one recent foggy morning to see if I could capture an interesting image or two.

This is the best shot I came back with as the fog quickly lifted. I just got one shot before the street lamp light turned off. Really like this photograph!

I processed the original image (below) using the great and free Snapseed photo editor app that I have on my iPad and iPhone. I like the high dynamic range or HDR filters especially. They can really make a picture pop.

Before bringing a photo into Snapseed, I will often use the basic processing tool on the iPad and iPhone. This is good for cropping and also making sure the image is even.