Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 Home Front Challenges

After the year we have been through in 2018 I will never again take for granted having a good roof over my head.

Christmas this year brought great gratitude for our beautiful home being whole again after a summer disaster.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Orangeburg Book Signing a Fun Day!

On Saturday, Dec. 22, just a few days before Christmas, I was part of a book signing at Swift Books in Orangeburg. The shop, owned by Dean and Edie Swift, is located on Chestnut Street in the Five Rivers Market antique mall.

I love the antique mall!  Before leaving I returned nearly half the money I made selling books after buying some Christmas gifts for the family.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Chicago's Holiday Season Charm!

On the eve of Christmas and New Year's, Chicago was a great place to visit for several days!  Alesia was sent there on a business trip and I was able to join her after completing finals and final grading. Our younger son lives and works there now too, so this trip was much anticipated, to say the least!

This may be my favorite photograph (from among the hundreds taken) during my Chicago December visit. The sax playing, Santa hat wearing musician provided a pop of sound and color on this one day that was very foggy from dawn to dusk.
This picture is a favorite too. I took it from the stairs going to the "L" train station near our hotel.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sottile House Shines at Night!

Walking to my car Monday night after my College of Charleston class I stopped and admired the old Sottile House at 11 College St. The beautiful yellow Victorian mansion dates to 1890 but looks better than ever, especially at night.

With some processing tools from Snapseed, a free photo editing app, I created this image, which adds to the beauty of the elegant structure. Not bad for an iPhone 7 picture, right?

Nighttime Capture- love the lighting!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sunday Grave Trotting in Charleston!

In my College of Charleston class, "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teaching the Living," I needed to call a late semester audible. A few classes were wiped out by the busy hurricane season and I needed to get in some assignments.

Class Photo at the Unique Unitarian Churchyard
So I asked the students to come out on a late Sunday morning to visit a pair of old Charleston graveyards within walking distance of campus.

Unfortunately, less than half the class showed up. For my MIAs?  They missed out on a neat experience.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prezi Project a Pain But Results Are Good!

It has been a while since I've produced a PowerPoint-type presentation in what's called PowerPoint 2.0, aka Prezi.

I'm having my college students create a top ten or ten all-time favorites list using Prezi as the platform.  So, to demonstrate how Prezi Next works (this has replaced Prezi Classic, of which I am much more familiar and comfortable) I wanted to put together a new Prezi. With all of the Magnolia Cemetery photos I have taken over the years I thought this could be a great subject. And I narrowed it down to 10 favorite statuary cemetery art figures.

Magnolia Cemetery has lots to choose from in this area, in that it is a beautiful Victorian necropolis that dates to 1850.

Embedding a Prezi in a Blogger post like this requires a couple steps. Here is the link I used that shows how to do it.  The short tutorial includes this HTML code. All you do is paste over the red part the URL that can be generated for your particular Prezi:

Before producing the first Prezi at the top of this post, I did one incorrectly that turned out like the above. I was able to convert it to a JPEG, then shared on a Facebook site called "Charleston History Before 1945." I like how it looks, though I cannot get rid of all the red underlines.  

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Fall Backyard Bird Bounce

Cooler weather (finally!) seems to have increased my backyard bird activity this weekend. I spent some time on my back porch after seeing lots of action at my feeders while looking out the window.

I saw and photographed some returning favorites. Here they are:

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler 

Young Students See Very Old Magnolia Cemetery

Monday night we caravaned the 10-minute drive from campus to Magnolia Cemetery- a short trip but a very long step back in time.

Students were able to see up close and personal many majestic, magnificent and artistic graveyard treasures going back as far as the 1850s. And back then they were all created by skilled artisans using only hammers and chisels, I remind the students.

If you've never been to Magnolia Cemetery, one of the nation's most beautiful and historic, get a taste of it by viewing my "Best of Magnolia Cemetery" video on YouTube.  

Two days before Halloween and a few costumes in this class photo!

I look forward to reading the students' blog posts. I hope they enjoyed seeing Magnolia Cemetery as much as I enjoyed showing it to them!

Now that I'm critiquing my students' posts, Anna Buko's stands out so far. I really like her "Garden of Graves" headline and her quality descriptions. Check out her post here.

Reece Hammond also did a very good post with high-quality writing and descriptions.

This post by Kevin Myhre is outstanding!

And Jack Sutton show's excellent scene setting in his story's lead. 

Friday, October 26, 2018

Popular Pix Enhance Photo Fun

Facebook seeks engagement and it has certainly become more engaging to me. Why? How?
Specialty sites within Facebook have helped me find people of similar interests.

Case in point, this picture I snapped with my iPhone Monday night on Coming Street near the College of Charleston.

Not Rainbow Row but colorful still...

I froze in my tracks on the sidewalk when I saw the pair of old Charleston Single Houses ("icons of Charleston architecture," according to this link), their contrasting colors, the bright street lamp in front of the pink dwelling, and the strong moon glow pouring down from above. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

ACE Basin Basking!

Fall debuted a few weeks ago but the hot, humid and hurricane weather (thanks to Florence and Michael) continued into October.

Last weekend was significantly cooler and sunny too so on Sunday Alesia and I drove down to the Hollings National Wildlife Refuge in the Lowcountry's beautiful ACE Basin.

Since it was Sunday we had to park a ways away from the old (but restored) Grove Plantation House, which dates to the 1820s. Today it serves as the refuge's office. Check the embedded link for a timeline of the historic structure.

The house and surrounding grounds are interesting photo material by themselves.

Several of my photos, processed his the Snapseed app, follow.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

“Gravetrotting” With My Charleston Students

Hurricane Florence caused the cancellation in September of two of my Monday night College of Charleston classes. Since 2015 I have taught a unique course called “Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living.” Charleston, especially its Historic District that the CofC campus is part of, makes a great place for such a topic of study and exploration.

I had some fun with the class photo below. Go to the end of this post to see what I did with the picture in the fun (and free!) Kizoa video/slideshow platform.
So, last Monday with Hurricane Florence no longer a threat we had class again and had a lot to do to get back on track.
We took a walk to a pair of nearby old churches, each with small but interesting graveyards. In the above photos, we are at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, an Episcopal church on Coming Street. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Magnolia Cemetery Birds and Graves

A visit today to Charleston’s historic Magnolia Cemetery lead to a plethora of plentiful photography, as it usually does for me.

I did photograph a few birds, including the Black-crowned Night Heron seen above. I had not seen one of these in a while  so I was excited!

The smaller birds I’m not sure about. I’m going to for some help. Sue enough, as always’s bird identification forum members came to my rescue. The small shore birds in the above photos are Solitary Sandpipers. This, I believe, is the first time seeing or photographing this type, making it a lifer bird for me. Cool!

Monday, September 17, 2018

My "Hurricane Florence Beard Challenge"

Day 1- Flo Beard Challenge
I had a lot of unexpected time at home with Hurricane Florence threatening the Southeast coast. At school Monday, Sept. 10 we learned from South Carolina’s Gov. Henry McMaster that state agencies in half of the state’s counties closest to the coast would be closed indefinitely starting the next morning.

Florence at that time was a Category 4 hurricane and would at times increase to Category 5 in the following days. So it was certainly a wise decision by the governor. Better safe than sorry!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Florence: Tense and Intense!

Today is Wednesday and in just a few days Hurricane Florence will pay Charleston and the Lowcountry region a most unwelcome visit.

I will be posting about our “Flo Blow” when and if (!) I can. With school canceled until further notice I got in tennis this morning, thinking it may be the last chance to play in a week or more.

After tennis, I stopped by the College of Charleston to run an errand. The campus was very quiet. I took these photos of historic Randolph Hall and Towell Library, both in the Cistern Yard. The buildings date to the 1820s and 1850s, respectively, and are still a vital part of the school. They are buttoned up for the hurricane.

Be kind Florence. Let’s hope and pray your bark is worse than your bite.

Randolph Hall, still the main administration building 
Towell Library, now CofC’s Office of Admissions 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Beach Treat: Edisto Island!

Our Plan B gets a grade of A+ on Saturday! Kiawah Island’s county park was the original destination but the traffic off the Highway 17 turn looked bumper-to-bumper and the prospect of an hour plus in that mess lead to us instead driving a little farther in light traffic to the beach at Edisto Island.
Edisto was not too crowded and we were able to park (free!) close to where we would set up our chairs. 
The weather was ideal for catching some rays and the water temperature was perfect for swimming. For photography the clouds were quite picturesque. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Book Cover Design to Final Version!

In 2016 I drew my idea for the cover of my new book. I’m no artist like my brother Matthew Harwood but I like how close this rough draft would be to the final product, what has recently come out in print.

Birmingham, Alabama Quick Visit

It was a sad occasion that brought my family together in Birmingham, Ala. in August. On that Sunday, before beginning our long drive back to Charleston, Alesia, Joseph and I did a quick tour of three Birmingham sites.  I was resistant at first, with such a long car drive ahead, but am glad we did this. Birmingham has a lot to offer, as I would learn. Hope to get back again and spend more time!  
This is Birmingham skyline taken from the Vulcan Park and Museum
The Vulcan Park was recommended by a few family members. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

Mourning the Loss of My Brother

My birthday on August 11 was secondary this year to a solemn family gathering near Birmingham, Ala. to mourn the loss (but also to celebrate the life) of Tom Harwood.

It was a sad truth and irony that Tom, the youngest of us seven children, would be the first to pass.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

New Book is Delivered!

I am so excited to share that my latest book has been completed, printed and delivered to my house!

This is an expanded version of my 2016 first issue. The title is the same: "Nature-ly Fun: Bird Photography From A to Z" but this new one has a hardcover.  This is something I really wanted because the hardcover looks so much better than the soft one, and the physical condition quality of the book is much better and longer lasting. 

The book's central themes remain the same: that birding and nature photography is fun, interesting, wholesome and healthy. This is truly a hobby that can be picked up at any stage of life and can last a lifetime. 

I used the alphabet's 26 letters to extoll an array of attributes of a hobby I enjoy so much. "A" is for Adventure, "B" is for Beauty- you get the idea.  A short essay supports each descriptive letter accompanied by several of my photographs that further illustrate each letter.

The book also includes what I call "Best of the Rest." These are other types of photographs I enjoy taking, such as sunrises and sunsets, lighthouses, cemeteries, churches, reflections and shadows, as well as animals other than birds.

I love this owl photo so much that I took a few years ago in the Hollings National Wildlife Refuge south of Charleston that I kept it on the cover. 

This second edition is 100 pages versus the first version's 85.
I even added a few types of birds not included in the earlier book, bringing the bird variety number to 90 from 85. 

Click on this image of the book's back cover to get more details on what's inside. 

I have just added this book to my three previous ones on my Amazon authors site.  Click here to see it. 

The book can be purchased through Amazon or from me directly, which I will happily sign. My email address is

I will add Charleston area store locations where the book is sold as they become available. 

Many thanks to Whitlock Business Systems and its 360 Digital Books division for another fine collaboration.  This is the third book I've done with this company located near Detroit and I'm pleased again with the quality, service and pricing. 

Please contact me if you have questions or comments about this book or my previous ones. Thank you! 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Jekyll Island Joy!

This month we enjoyed a family vacation on the Georgia gem Jekyll Island. We stayed four nights at the Westin resort and could not be happier with the experience.  The hotel is beachfront, our rooms had ocean views and the weather was very good for relaxing and catching rays on the beach.

To follow are a bunch of my favorite photos. For a smallish 10 miles long island there was much to see and do.  Jekyll has nothing to hide (ha- get it?) with many public beaches plus some very interesting history and historic sites I was unaware of before this visit.

This picture was taken from a second floor patio at the Westin. The image is idyllic in the sense of summertime at the beach, I feel.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Grave Discovery in the ACE Basin!

Boynton Trail 

Yesterday, I had quite an adventure on the nature trail at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in South Carolina's ACE Basin. 

Within the Colleton County refuge's 8,000 acres is the Boynton Trail. A day can be spent at this place alone, with its miles of trails through and around former rice fields and wooded areas.

I have visited the Boynton Trail (this link is one of my posts) a number of times over the years. Several of my Donnelley and Boynton blogs posts can be found by using the "Search This Blog" feature to the right. I went there just two weeks ago and had a really neat encounter with a pair of Painted Buntings.  I will post some of those photographs in the days ahead.

After that recent visit, I was determined to get back soon. Here is why (see next picture):

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wrong Wren!

Something is out of place on this bulletin board in my garage. Can you see it?

It is quite an assemblage of photographs, sports letters, ticket stubs, business cards and other random items.

Maybe this Carolina Wren is a fan of the former Chicago Cubs (now Miami Marlins) player Starlin Castro, who is pictured on this 2012 Cubs schedule. The Wren seems to be giving Starlin a close look anyway.
A pair of Carolina Wrens were in my garage when I went in it to look for something. The garage door had been open for a few hours.

For whatever reasons Wrens often enter the garage when it’s open like this. The one flew out pretty quickly when I entered, but this one became panicked and flew over to the area by the house door. As it landed on things, I thought that would make for good photos. I gently opened the door to go inside to get my camera, hoping the bird would not go in with me, which it didn’t thankfully.

 So as you see I got a few nice shots and the Wren eventually made it back outside where it belongs.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Hawk Backyard Feeding Feast!

Back in March, I took these photos from my backyard. The poor Muscovy duck, I think, had been sick and that made it easy pickings for predators such as this Red-shouldered Hawk. I had seen the duck laying in this spot a day or two earlier and didn’t think that much about it.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

B-1 Bomber Pix Blasts into the Newspaper!

I was excited to have a photo again selected as the winning entry in a Charleston Post and Courier weekly photo contest shown in the paper on Sunday, May 27.  The theme this time was "Lowcountry Panoramas." I took this photo on April 28 at the Joint Base Charleston (aka Charleston Air Force Base) Air and Space Expo.  See my blog post from a few weeks ago, showing the great variety of planes (and other weapons) on the ground and in the air.  

This recent image came to my mind. It is of a B-1 bomber that was among the many planes on display along the flight line. I took it with my iPhone 7 in the "Pano" setting.

The image, for a panorama contest, was different, admittingly, and that is what the contest editors, all P&C staff photographers, liked about it, according to the comments given.  Click on the images to see them larger.

This is the original shot of the big B-1 bomber serving as a shade shelter for folks on the tarmac at Joint Base Charleston. 
I made and framed this design. Such a neat event and I'm really pleased with this unique image. Am happy and proud that the Post and Courier folks liked it too! 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Survival of the Sago Palms!

It seems like it took forever but Alesia and I are so pleased that the Sago Palms that decorate our front yard area are back and as beautiful as ever- if not more so considering what happened to them in January.

On January 3, the Charleston area had a very rare heavy snowfall. We had five inches or so at our house.  See my Winter Storm Grayson post here.

While beautiful in many ways, we didn't realize how hard the snow would be on our lovely Sago Palms.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Yay Hilton Head Vacay!

I have so been looking forward to our long-planned vacation in Hilton Head! It marks a transition week between the just ended school year and a summer full of home improvement, book projects and other to-do items.

I will chronicle our Hilton Head trip with photos. Lots of rain was forecast, which had us worried. We end up getting two clear and sunny days for what we really wanted to do: soak up some sun on the beach.

Five days on Hilton Head was a blast. Friday we drove the short distance to Savannah to have dinner and spend the night. Our trip culminated in a short visit to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.
Checking out the beach soon after our arrival 
Nice leading lines, beach, clouds and HDR effect

Monday, May 14, 2018

Marked Dolphin Photographed in Charleston Harbor

Look closely at this photo (click on it), which I took in March while visiting Fort Johnson, which is on James Island along the Charleston Harbor.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Leaping Lizards- Check Out These Scuffling Skinks!

What an unusual sight to see in my backyard a couple weekends ago! Be sure to watch the video below! I stepped out on the back porch and heard sounds in the pine straw. I first thought it was a squirrel, then got a little closer and saw a long thin body with a reddish head and thought it was a snake.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Jail Visit with Students- Hopefully Not the Last Time!

On April 23 it was the last regular class for my College of Charleston course "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teaching the Living." The activity planned for this final session was anything but regular.

My intrepid students on their way to jail! 
We visited Charleston's notorious Old City Jail, which more accurately should be called the Charleston District Jail.

It was raining as we left our classroom for the 10-minute walk to Magazine Street where the jail was constructed way back in 1802.

I was appreciative of my students not complaining about the walk in the rain. They were, in fact, pretty excited- if not a bit scared- about the "haunted" tour that awaited us. What a way to end the semester we all agreed!

The rain made the jail look even scarier 

Randall Johnson, our guide from Bulldog Tours, was excellent. I have been on these tours maybe half a dozen times with a different guide every visit.  Each guide has been very good, with different stories to go along with a few mainstays.

Johnson, a self-described "homey from West Ashley," sure looked ghost guide part in his black clothing from head to toe, including the bowler hat on his head.

The rain had eased by our 7 p.m. arrival so he was able to give us a quick overview of the jail's origins, its long history of difficult if not deplorable conditions for prisoners, and its probably long overdue closing in 1939.

"Fourteen thousand people died here," Johnson said, "so there are lots of spirits inside."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Picture Perfect Day for an Air Show!

I read it had been seven years since the last air show at Joint Base Charleston (formerly known as the Charleston Air Force Base). The base, its personnel, and the big C-17 Globemaster cargo planes have been pretty busy with wars overseas.

So it was nice to hear that the gates would be open to the public on Saturday, April 28 for a first-rate display of American warplanes on display and others flying overhead with pinpoint precision and aerobatics.  The event was officially called the Joint Base Charleston 2018 Air & Space Expo.

B-1 Lancer bomber provided shade to dozens of air show patrons

There were an impressive number and variety of planes to see on the tarmac. Many were open for people to go aboard, with airmen and officers on hand to help them get in and out safely and talk and answer questions about what the planes do and what they do. 
B-52 Stratofortress from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La., where Alesia and I lived years ago