I’d only been to Charleston briefly once before…but it had perked my interest and I was looking forward to seeing what my camera and I would find. Although the folks in Charleston and Savannah seem to have a bit of rivalry between them, from my perspective they sure have a lot in common: both are steeped in history, both are waterfront southern towns and both have blocks and blocks of peaceful antique brick residences.
If you only have a day or two to explore Charleston, here are my thoughts on the three areas you should focus on (no pun intended):
1) The Old City (including Waterfront Park)
2) Patriots Point and Mt Pleasant
3) The Plantations (and old Sheldon Church) on the outskirts
Let me share with you some observations and learnings I had during my trip on each of these three areas.
The OLD CITY
This is where you want to start. The Old City is a large area down by the waterfront that is packed with old homes, churches and government buildings. Frankly, there really isn’t a way for a newbie to find half of the cool stuff by just wandering around. What I would suggest is that you book a walking tour and if you do so, you really should go with Charleston History Tours http://www.charlestonhistorytours.com/. 843-901-9283. Why this tour? Because your guide, Joyce, is a camera nut and the entire tour is done from a photographer’s perspective. To make it even better, Joyce only charges $24 and not only do you get a photo tour, but she talks about the history of the place non-stop for 2 1/2 hours! Trust me, this will be the best $24 you spend in Charleston.
My second suggestion is to be down at Waterfront Park 40 minutes before sunrise any day that you are in Charleston. What is great about this place is that the sun rises over the water and there are two fountains and a pier that make excellent foreground subjects. I bet you will be like me, running around trying to get all the different shots while the light is good…you will love it! The Park is at the intersection of Concord St. and Vendue Range Street http://maps.google.com/maps/place?ftid=0x88fe7a0ea68815a3:0xd76adc0e01bcbed1&q=Waterfront+Park,+Charleston,+SC&hl=en&gl=us&ved=0CBAQ-gswAA&sa=X&ei=cbaTUJj0EtOhtgejkYH4Cw. Although parking in the Old City is a challenge, I’ve never had a problem at sunrise. Bring your tripod and try some HDR shots to bring out the full dynamic range of the scene.