Photography exhibit by Ara Hagopian.
South Carolina has a deep history in the story of the United States. Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens in Mt. Pleasant preserves much of this history in a beautiful working farm, open to the public.
This Phototheme of fourteen pictures was made during a day’s visit to the property. The camera was the Sony A7R 36 megapixel full-frame with the Zeiss 50mm prime lens.
My exhibits usually involve staying in the area for several days, taking photographs on a carefree wander basis, and presenting a set of pictures that come from a large group of scenes and settings. This exhibit is different. I had three quick hours to explore the property and this included two guided tours, one of which prohibited photography.
My time was limited, but the subjects were not.
The pictures below would not qualify for a tourist’s brochure of the grounds. Publicity marketing is not the intent with the work. Instead, you’re getting this artist’s impression of what was beautiful or interesting one sunny June day in 2019.
What did we discover? Come look with me.
BELOW: Grand entrance. Great trees are a mainstay of the South. You see them in the sweltering heat and then the heat seems to go away, or at least set aside, because something grand and weighty is now before you. The Spanish moss that drapes from the branches has a delicate color, the envy of an exposed army, with soft strands lain by nature yet with seeming care.
This is the famed entrance to the grounds. Brides pay a lot of money for their photographs to be taken here.
BELOW: Draped. Shapes, shades, and colors work in wonderful ways.
BELOW: Sweltering. Ten farmers work the crop system that has carried on for hundreds of years. Strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, kale, peppers, oranges, lemons and limes are just a sample of the produce offered.
BELOW: Fineness. A field view from a bouncing tour wagon. Such a pretty sight to see. If anyone in your world ever tells you to “get lost,” let’s promise to meet here and comply with their wish.
BELOW: Cardinals. With photography, there are types of pictures that are nicely framed, precisely rendered, and beautiful. Sometimes, a moment is captured that couldn’t be duplicated if we waited all day. This is one of those. We have a male cardinal on the tree and his mate flying to meet him. Red and orange, spectacular! Thrilling too is their eye contact; this was my money shot of the day.
This is a crop of a much larger picture. Thanks to the camera and lens, we have clarity in the scene. I’ll post the original photograph, and a closer crop, at the end of this exhibit.
BELOW: Massive. Could man make such an arrangement? Possibly. Could he conceive it? Not even close.
BELOW: Delicate. Is there a more fragile thing than this?
BELOW: Flighty Moth. This moth fluttered around the gardens and I looked like a huffing simpleton chasing it. You can’t chase a moth and expect it to land and pose for you. You can wait for her to settle on her own, and do your sneaking then!
BELOW: Crape Myrtle. This is a Natchez white crape myrtle tree. She produces large white globular booms in the summertime. What impressed me the most was her bareness, in the midst of so much cover around her.
BELOW: Slaves. Slavery made the South, and these surviving structures were homes for African men and women who were bought and kept for free labor. The slaves were worked hard with few guarantees. In fact the laws of the day prohibited slaves to read and write. This law applied to white people: You were forbidden to teach a black person the basic luxury to learn on one’s own. As bad as we can imagine the conditions, you can bet it was worse. At one point South Carolina’s slave population exceeded 57%–they were in the majority, and yet, not free.
BELOW: Powerful words. I took this photograph at an angle because standing here, and feeling so many conflicting feelings, I knew what I wanted to do with the image when I would get to process it back home. Each preserved slave home has modern signs inside, for educational purposes. I stood outside this cabin and angled the camera to cut off the base of the doorway; even with emancipation the former slaves were not free. They didn’t have an easy way out of this room. My crop effects a blocking of the way. I added artificial light on the sign, to make those words absolutely clear.
Understand who came before you.
BELOW: Garden. I was mobile in body and able in means, two privileges I’m thankful for, and which will not last. Standing here at this beautiful scene, which reminded me so much of my childhood Gloucester Massachusetts days, I thought about my good life. I am lucky to be able to have the strength to walk where I choose. I had money to travel, and a dear companion to plan the string of details to make the thousand-mile trip happen.
I have the legal right to pass this way. And a fine camera. And ability. None of this is lost to me, when I’m reminded that not all have these physical and material gifts.
Come and walk this garden with me.
BELOW: Barn cats. There’s a cat family at one of the original structures. They won’t come when called, but they won’t run when talked to.
BELOW: Mom. Mom tolerates a youngster much too old to nurse but insisted anyway.
Thank you for looking at my Phototheme. Please post a comment below. I’d love to know your favorite picture, and why you chose it.
As promised, here is the original Cardinal picture, uncropped and cropped.