Friday, October 11, 2019

Folly Beach- Fun on the Edge of America

Nicknamed “The Edge of America,” Folly Beach is friendly, fun and a little funky. The Charleston area has so many special places and this is certainly one of them.

And to be able to catch some rays in early October was pretty special too.

We parked near what is still often called the old Coast Guard station off the main road where parking is still free.

Temperatures were in the low 80s with winds light to heavy at times.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Coming Street Cemetery Comings and Goings

Thank you Hurricane Dorian! Your brush with South Carolina in early September caused a week of school closings along the coast. This lead to the College of Charleston having weekend makeup classes. This lead to me setting up a Saturday visit to the nearby Coming Street Cemetery.
For late September it was unseasonably hot this day

For my College of Charleston “Beyond the Grave” students, a Saturday night cemetery tour would not be high on their weekend fun list. But I tried to make it more palatable by not meeting in our classroom. Instead we met in front of the Addlestone Library and then walked several blocks to the cemetery.

All but a few of my 20 students participated on Sept. 28, though several left before this group photo was taken by my wife Alesia.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Going "Beyond the Grave" with Charleston Historian and Author Ruth Miller

"Touring the Tombstones" with Ruth Miller
Have you heard the one about the busload of morticians?

No joke, it was this twist of fate that began to turn tour guide Ruth Miller into a taphophile- a person with a grave interest in graveyards.

Years ago, Miller took a group of visiting undertakers on a Charleston tour when they asked her to stop at a church graveyard. She complied and ended up learning so many interesting things from the morticians that she was driven to dig more into Charleston’s many churchyards.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hurricane Dorian: Good Riddance!

Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019 was D Day- Dorian Day. This was the day Hurricane Dorian finally closed in on the Charleston area after several days of anticipation. In the wee hours Category 3 wind gusts commenced an assault that would last more than 12 hours.

Our power went off at 5:40 a.m. and returned 20 minutes later. Maybe this won’t be so bad, I thought at that time. But at 8 a.m. the electricity went off again. And off it would remain for 26 hours until 10 yesterday morning.



Sunday, September 1, 2019

All Aces in the ACE Basin

One of the many great things about the ACE Basin is that its state and federal nature refuges are almost always open to the intrepid visitor willing to travel to what some may consider the middle of nowhere.
Taken when I arrived (before getting all hot and sweaty)

It had been several months since I trekked to one of the basin’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs ). I found some free time one day recently and with the prospect of soon having to deal with another hurricane (Dorian), I grabbed my camera and bug spray and headed south on Highway 17 to the Hollings National Wildlife Refuge. It’s about an hour drive from my house. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

New York Landing

I had a window to the world- the New York world- during our approach to LaGuardia Airport a few weeks ago.

With some enhancements these two shots became stunners, one showing the Hudson River and Manhattan. The Freedom Tower is visible in the top right corner.

The second image prominently shows Central Park.

See more of my NYC photographs a few posts ago or click here.






Saturday, August 10, 2019

Prince and Princess of the Pines

I have regularly been spotting and hearing Mississippi Kites the past several weeks. They do have a distinctive call and silhouette in the sky.
I had to go no farther than my backyard to take these photos. I’ve been hearing the high pitched kite call so grabbed my binoculars and quickly spotted a Mississippi Kite at the top of a pine tree across the fairway. This raptor has the prettiest face! And such a stately presence too, right? 

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cool Clouds and an Army Ship?

The clouds were the stars at the beach yesterday. They were big, white and puffy. The shapes were interesting too. These were taken from Sullivan's Island (where else!).

This formation looks like an anvil.

Friday, August 2, 2019

New York, New York!

We tried to take a big bite out of the Big Apple during our recent Saturday-Tuesday visit to see our son who lives there now. We covered a lot of ground, mostly on Manhattan in the Financial District. We stayed at a Marriott property, the AC Downtown New York Hotel. It’s on Maiden Lane, just a short walk from the East River.

Since returning home, I’ve been organizing my photographs by theme, sharing some on Facebook and Instagram.

One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower)- I really wanted to see it and fortunately, at 1776 feet tall, it is visible  from all directions 


Friday, July 26, 2019

Robert E. Lee III Piece

For several years I have subscribed to the magazine Civil War Times. I have been a Civil War buff since I was a kid. The new issue of the magazine came to my house the other day and I was thrilled to see my letter to the editor in it. I had submitted it months ago and had forgotten about it.

The story I share in the letter is from my “In the Arms of Angels” Magnolia Cemetery book that I published in 2014. I’ll always remember stopping in my tracks upon seeing the name Robert E. Lee III inscribed at the base of this very lovely gravesite. The writing on the monument says how he was the grandson of the great Confederate “chieftain.”

Sunday, July 14, 2019

More Shipping News

Today was another nice day at the beach! Station 17 at Sullivan's Island has become our go-to spot. It's never crowded and has great views of the channel to Charleston, which today was busy with ships and other vessels coming and going.
This container ship, only partially loaded, was heading out to sea. It is the Japanese ship Meishan Bridge

Friday, July 5, 2019

Fourth of July- Back at the Beach!

What better way to start Independence Day than head to the beach! It has been hot, humid and muggy- typical for Charleston in the summer. We got to Sullivan’s Island just before 11 and even found a good parking spot, a nice surprise.

The ocean water felt really good. Skies were partly cloudy. Boat and ship activity kept my camera clicking. Here are some of my favorite shots.
Charleston-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Cormorant Showing Old Glory!
Below: a cargo ship filled to the gills with containers steams toward Charleston Harbor and her ports. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Beach Scenes- Summer Sizzlers

Sunday, June 30 at Sullivan’s Island’s Station 17 was a sunny, peaceful place to be. Not too many people were there, which was a nice surprise.  I made a collage with four favorite photos.

The most interesting picture is the U.S. Coast Guard cutter that came into Charleston Harbor. I figured it was a Charleston-based ship returning to home port. But later at home when I googled it’s 757 number I learned that was not the case. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bountiful Bay Beauty

The Chesapeake Bay Northern Neck part of Virginia where my parents live is a great place for photography. I always come back home with nice new images. Sometimes, during winter visits, the pictures feature snow, which we very rarely see in South Carolina.

Here are some favorites from my most recent visit. See also the two bird-related posts that precede this one. One features Ospreys, the other Barn Swallows.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Bay Barn Swallows a Challenge to Capture

Capture on "film" that is. Yes these small birds are really fast as they dart through the sky, skim the water and dive under a dock in their pursuit of bugs to eat.

While photographing the Ospreys seen in my previous post near my parents' house on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia another feathered friend caught my eye. I had no success trying to focus on one in flight and get its picture.  So then I got smarter and focused on a section of dock where the birds would occasionally fly.

I set my camera to burst mode and started firing away- click, click, click- when a few of the birds looked like they would go under the dock.

Alas, I had some success. I was determined in this effort because I thought this bird with a forked tail may be a first-time "lifer" bird for me.


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A Spree of Ospreys

A fun thing about bird and nature photography is the unexpected encounters and opportunities. Such was the case Sunday during a visit to my parents’ house on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. In the afternoon I walked around the area near the house.

At nearby Crane’s Creek I saw an Osprey nesting platform. It was closer to land than others I had seen.
As I first tried to take some photos, the Osprey flew away, but not far away. It circled around and eventually settled back on the nest. I had walked away, hoping the it would return. Trying to be less visible behind a tree, I was then able to take these photos. It wasn’t until later after transferring the pictures to my iPad that I found what a busy nest Momma Osprey was tending.


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 whatbird.com 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 anitamrose@comcast.net or Serrins at randiserrins@gmail.com


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 ancestry.com, 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


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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 Fortune.com.

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. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

Favorite Magnolia Cemetery Art

This image is the result of a project I was working on a few months ago in Prezi (aka PowerPoint 2.0). This version was not what it was supposed to be in the sense of not being an interactive Prezi. But I kind of like it anyway even with the red marks. To see the real Prezi, click here.  

So I thought I would share the image here on my blog. That's another nice thing about having a blog is that it can become a home to all sorts of content. 


Magnolia Cemetery is truly a special, beautiful and historic place. I am so pleased to have written two books about this grand Victorian necropolis.  See my links at the top of my blog for information about my books or go to my Amazon authors page.