Hurricanes Uncover Artifacts On Charleston Beaches


You don’t need a degree in archaeology or history to know that Charleston is sitting on treasures waiting to be uncovered. Whether it’s new information about the lives that were lived along our shores during the Golden Era, or it’s physical artifacts from lives lived long ago, Charleston is a gold mine for history lovers and treasure hunters.

Hurricanes and their subsequent beach erosion often uncovers many treasures that have been hiding beneath our feet. In fact, after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the bomb squad had to be called to Folly beach when cannonballs from the Civil War were found on a Sunday afternoon.


During a walk along one of our beaches after Hurricane Matthew, we located a long metal object that we were later informed was a piece of a ship.

Treasure hunting isn’t a new hobby for folks. In the 1950’s people were flocking to Isle of Palms searching for treasure that was reportedly in the sum of $90,000 and originated from a bank heist out of New York. It was reported that one of the suspects lived quite well on the IOP, along with another fugitive who was wanted for murder and subsequently captured on Folly beach.

Other relics you may want to keep an eye out for includes treasures such as shark teeth (commonly found), to more uncommon items like metal badges worn by Free Men, slave tags or confederate belt buckles.

In an episode of “Diggers” on the National Geographic channel, you can watch professional treasure hunters look for Blackbeard’s gold on nearby Daufuskie Island. During that hunt, they did find Civil War buttons and a lamp, but turned up empty when it came to the legendary gold.

Another local urban legend is that Pirate Stede Bonnet who was hanged in Charleston may have buried his treasure on the banks of the nearby Santee River. That treasure and the location have yet to be discovered.

Whether you’re a casual beach comber looking for shells and get lucky enough to stumble upon artifacts, or you’re equipped with a metal detector, all you need is a love for the outdoors and a long walk and you may just be the next person to uncover pieces of Charleston’s hidden past.

If you do decide to get out and hunt for buried treasure, be mindful that trespassing is illegal, always seek permission, and digging on beaches for recreation is usually ok as long as holes are not left behind. Be aware though that there are sections of beaches that are off limit to searching. Bottom line: Do your research before you venture out.

Photographers: Those Who Draw With Light

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The word photography was first used in the 1830's. It is derived from two Greek words, photos ("light") and graphein ("to draw").

To draw with light.

It's a beautiful summary of what we do.  When I discovered the original meaning, something deep within stirred.

Today we live in an oversaturated photographic space.  As I write this, kids are heading back to school and my social media is filled with cute children equipped with backpacks and books.

I then looked at my Instagram account and saw saturated image, after saturated image.  I had to ask myself: Have I become desensitized to photography?  Do I require florescent sunsets and vibrant flowers in the foreground to stimulate and inspire me?

I was then led to this personal reflection:  What if photography didn't exist?

Social media would be boring.  If photography didn't exist, we could rule out video.  A larger dependency and reliance would be given to the written word.

It's hard to imagine a world where something so entrenched in our culture doesn't exist.

Somewhere between the space of oversaturated stimuli and baulking at the thought of it not existing, is a place where I am reconciling why photography matters.

Recently I began blogging.  I write personal reflections about life, faith and family.  My photography is used to support my written words.  I've noticed that I can be granted a few moments of someone attention when I intertwine my words with an image I've created.


Keith photographed the approach of Hurricane Irma in 2017.  His image, Irma's Approach went viral and sold numerous prints.   People's relatability and emotional connection to the storm they personally experienced caused them to bond with his piece.

As people who "draw with light", we are more than documenters of moments (although that is exactly what each mother did before they sent their children off to school).   The time invested to learn the art, the financial requirements for gear, travel and education are all proof that there is a deeper need for self expression and enjoyment in the art of creating, drawing with light.

There's no single piece of art that has touched each eye that has viewed it.  The beauty of art is that it's subjective.  Created first from something deep within the artist, and then appreciated by those who it speaks to.

Your photography will speak to those it is meant for.  At it's source though it's a personal expression of your experience, a journal of your travels, and your interpretation of a moment.

And at the end of the day, when the contest winners have been chosen, the gallery has selected their artists they want to feature, the prints have been packed up from the art festival, or you take account of the numbers of like on social media, the question that should be last on your lips are these:

  1. Did I enjoy the process of creating this piece
  2. Am I happy with what I have created and is it my best.
  3. What does this piece say to me and how can I share it with others?

Of course not every image you capture will be able to have these questions answered in the affirmative, but every once in a while, everything will line up in the field, your processing will flow, you'll create magic, and you'll know that the piece will become a benchmark of your life.

Dear artist, don't stop drawing with light.

Pregnant tiger shark tagged off SC coast

SCDNR biologist Bryan Frazier affixes the satellite tag to Harry-Etta's dorsal fin as College of Charleston's Gorka Sancho keeps the shark secured. (Photo: Taylor Main/SCDNR)

SCDNR biologist Bryan Frazier affixes the satellite tag to Harry-Etta's dorsal fin as College of Charleston's Gorka Sancho keeps the shark secured. (Photo: Taylor Main/SCDNR)

The distinctly striped tiger shark is one of the largest predators in coastal South Carolina waters – and now you can follow the movements of one through her pregnancy.

This week, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) biologists working in St. Helena Sound caught and satellite tagged “Harry-Etta,” a female tiger shark clocking in at 12”2’ long and 820 pounds. By providing real-time data as she cruises Southeastern waters, Harry-Etta could help researchers answer important questions about how long sharks of this little-studied species live, how often they reproduce, and where and when they migrate.

Two years ago, the same SCDNR team affixed a satellite to Harry-Etta’s predecessor – another female tiger shark, dubbed “Harry-Ette,” whose satellite tag was also sponsored by the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund. In South Carolina, adult tiger sharks typically range between 10 to 13 feet in length, with females reaching larger sizes than males. 

For several years, SCDNR biologists have worked to better understand these large predators through collaborative work with the shark-tagging nonprofit OCEARCH, charter captain Chip Michalove, and College of Charleston researchers. The work has shed light on the importance of South Carolina’s southern sounds (particularly St. Helena and Port Royal Sounds) as foraging and potentially nursing grounds for tiger sharks.

“This is actually the third time we've encountered Harry-Etta,” said SCDNR biologist Bryan Frazier, who leads the agency’s shark-tagging efforts. “She was tagged with a conventional tag in 2013 by charter captain Chip Michalove and again by SCDNR in 2015 in Port Royal Sound. This time, we were able to apply a SPOT tag, allowing us to follow her movements over the next year.”

SPOT (Smart Position or Temperature) tags are small devices secured to a shark’s dorsal fin that track movement by sending signals to a satellite, or “pings,” each time they’re above water for more than 90 seconds. Like humans, each shark is unique in their habits of movement – so some animals ping frequently, while others surface only rarely.

There was something else noteworthy about Harry-Etta this time around, Frazier said: “We also confirmed she was pregnant by ultrasound, so we can gain insight into what habitats she uses during gestation.”

Harry-Etta is the fifteenth tiger shark Frazier’s team has fitted with a satellite transmitter in South Carolina – but the first one known to be pregnant. In recent years, fresh mating wounds found on other tagged tiger sharks have led the team to believe that South Carolina’s southern sounds and nearshore waters could be important locations for tiger shark reproduction.

About Harry-Etta’s name: The Hampton Wildlife Fund was established in 1981 and named for South Carolina conservationist Harry R.E. Hampton. Dedicated to the conservation and protection of the state’s natural resources, the Fund has now sponsored two satellite tags for tracking tiger sharks, both of which have been named in Harry Hampton’s honor.

“I’m happy our board, led by Chair Deidre Menefee, unanimously voted to fund a second tag," said Hampton Wildlife Fund executive director Jim Goller. "We're proud to support SCDNR in their efforts to study these magnificent creatures that frequent South Carolina waters. I fish St. Helena Sound where Harry-Etta was tagged, making this tiger very special to me. We are all super excited and can’t wait to follow her on the OCEARCH website.” Learn more about the Fund online.

You can follow Harry-Etta’s travels in real time on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker, available online and for download on Apple and Android platforms. 



*Originally posted on the SCDNR Website and written by Erin Weeks *

Halo Effect

Earlier in the week, I actually had a break from running tours and workshops and made my way to Folly Beach to get some early morning shooting in with a close friend. We had it scheduled for a few days and the conditions looked promising. After hitting snooze on my phone's alarm a couple of times, I awoke to check my usual sources and the local radar to find a few small storms along the coast. A perfect scenario was brewing.

The Folly Pier is iconic to the Lowcountry and has been photographed a gajillion times. But, I had yet to shoot it and walk away with a unique capture. It looked like this may be my opportunity. From the side of the pier, I wanted to capture the movement of the waves as they swept back into the sea, along with the pounding waves rushing in. They were short of what they were when Irma came to town, but definitely held their own. The glow appearing in the distance had me rushing with anticipation. The cloud coverage was heavy and I knew the show wouldn't last long.

The attempt did not disappoint.  I had packed my Nikon D810 along with my new Tokina AT-X 17-35MM F/4 PRO FX.  I was eager to try this new lens out.  What a perfect way to break her in. I had gone to battle with my Nikon 14-24 mm many times and the necessity of adapters for filter use had just worn me out. When the opportunity presented itself to have a quality wide angle lens, giving me the option to use both circular and drop-in filters, I jumped on it.  It is clearly one of the sharper lenses I've ever used. I'm super stoked to add this lens to the arsenal. I look forward to many new opportunities. 

Rooftop Review: Eleve

Rooftop bars are scattered throughout downtown Charleston, and when I had meetings scheduled downtown on a Monday afternoon, I decided to visit Eleve, sit down with my laptop and finish some work that was waiting for me.  Here’s a recap and observations from of my visit.


Eleve is located on the fourth floor of the new Grand Bohemian Hotel, located on Meeting St. & Wentworth.  The rooftop bar is easily accessed through the hotel or by entering the café entrance. 

The rooftop is scattered with white umbrellas, couches, chaises and a turf grass.  In addition, there is a lovely long coffee table surrounded by 6 wing backed chairs for an informal meeting. 

Whether your thirst is going to be quenched with cocktails, wine, or what’s on tap, there’s a wide selection.  The Boheme, their signature cocktail includes Espolon Tequila, Pineapple Shrub Fresno Pepper Simple Syrup, with fresh lime and is priced at $14. 

My meetings had me visiting the rooftop at 3:00 and a ‘small bites’ menu was offered that included Frites, Escargot, Chilled Oysters, Calamari, Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese, and Beef Carpacio. 


The dinner menu and their dining room were luxurious.   Features such as the Grilled Australian Lamb Chops ($34), Filet De Boeuf ($33), Steak Au Poivre ($38) Ginger Honey Chicken Nicoise ($24), or Seared Grouper ($33). The full menu can be viewed here

My visit was nearing a close around 4:30. Keith was working from our home office, and my work day was coming to a completion.  I’m fully planning on returning with Keith though and already have my eye on the Steak Au Poivre.  The ambiance was lovely, not overcrowded, quiet and inviting.  The staff and service was exceptional. 

As with all our reviews, if during your stay in Charleston found you at Eleve, please let us know about your experience in the comments below!


Staying Inspired: Find the light!

Recently Keith spent the morning out at Folly Beach with a guest and came home with this beautiful image.  Since the damage at Botany Bay, we've been spending more time at Folly capturing sunrises if we're wanting to include the ocean.  Although often overlooked, Folly has her charms if you know where to look.   Towards the end of the beach you'll find numerous wood and rock jetties that can add to your compositions if you tide is in your favor.  

Even while living in a beautiful place like Charleston, it can be hard to stay inspired when you see the same locations on a very regular basis.  No doubt you feel the same way about where you live.  Regardless of whether you've lived there all your life or only for a couple years, we become desensitized to the beauty that surrounds us.  

Light is one element Keith and I rely on to stay inspired.  Light has the power to dramatically change the mood, look and composition to a picture.   While a location may be very familiar to you, you might find your inspiration is renewed by the presence of a powerful sunrise or sunset. For us, we are fueled by a passion to capturing moments in nature that only God can create. 

So rather than watching the calendar for your next photo adventure to a new location try watching for a storm that's coming your way or billowing clouds that might mean a spectacular sunrise or sunset in your home town.   Remember, you have the home advantage because you know your area and you can easily navigate your way to a spot to make a beautiful image.  Use the familiarity of your home as a tool to equip you to capture amazing light.  

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend


It was just 3 months ago that we stepped out onto the beach at Botany Bay after 8 months of it being inaccessible.  Tears welled up in our eyes and it was like coming home, especially when we saw that the beloved tree of all photographers stood strong and proud in the water.  He was a beacon of hope, that no matter what storms may come in life, though the shifting sand around us scatter, there was strength in the decay.

We breathed a sigh of relief when we knew Irma was diverting to the west side of Florida and Charleston would be spared from being hit head-on by a CAT 4/5 hurricane.  This morning as we picked up the fallen limbs and debris from our home, our phones individually buzzed and we received a note from our friend and pilot that we work with, Hayden Ervin with Holy City Helicopters that he was going to fly over Botany Bay.   We waited and within an hour video from his flight was posted on Facebook.   Keith and I sat watching on repeat and pausing it making sure what we saw was correct:  Our old friend who had once stood so proud is now down in the water.  

For all the folks who loved that tree, it's a profound loss.  Even now, until we can see it with our own eyes the reality of it being gone is dim.  

Perhaps this post is only for photographers.  Few people might be able to relate with the sadness over a tree.  For those of us who have breathed in the salty sea air, and watched the sunrise come up behind him, we know him as an icon.   We've had the privilege of hosting and guiding folks from all over the country who planned their trip to see this beloved tree.  

So from our hearts, to that sweet old tree, thank you for what you meant to all of us.  A symbol of strength, resilience, and faith.  You'll be dearly missed.

Image courtesy of Hayden Ervin with Holy City Helicopters

Image courtesy of Hayden Ervin with Holy City Helicopters

Image courtesy of Hayden Ervin with Holy City Helicopters

Image courtesy of Hayden Ervin with Holy City Helicopters

Botany Bay Beach Reopens: 8 Things You Need To Know

Since hurricane Matthew hit in October of last year, access to Botany Bay beach has been restricted due to the loss of the bridge on the causeway as I'm sure most of you are aware. 

We have recently learned that on Saturday July 15th, the beach will reopen to the public. The bridge has been rebuilt and it looks great!

However with all of the changes that Matthew left us, there's some critical things you'll need to know. Here are a few reminders and updates that the S.C. Department of Natural Resources wants visitors to understand.

1) The Trees 

I know the first thing a lot of you will want to know is whether or not the trees are still standing in the water. As has been confirmed by others and now with our own eyes, we're sad to report that there is now only one tree still standing in the water.  

There has been a lot of talk and speculation about what the beach looks like today and we can tell you that although a lot has changed, we now have a bigger boneyard beach than ever before.  Don't go to the beach expecting the compositions you used to photograph.  The rearrangement of the trees will offer new compositions and opportunities for photographers.

2) Beach Loss

As a result of the hurricane, there was approximately 100 feet of beach that is now under water (even at low tide).  This will effect visitors because of the new paths the tides travel.  Last year we used to be able to navigate through the tree line to return if we got stuck at high tide, this will no longer be possible.  For those of you who have been there in the past, the water at high tide now reaches where the tiki hut used to be and beyond.  We can't express this emphatically enough, be constantly aware of the tide chart.

3) Beach Accessibility

One SCDNR worker said it this way "it's like God took a bowling ball and plowed the tree line".  When you arrive at the parking area you'll notice that the trees on the horizon are now missing, exposing the beach front.  In addition and as mentioned above, with the change in the tide's path, the beach will not be accessible for several hours before and several hours after high tide, because the waves come right up to the end of the causeway. We highly recommend before heading out that you are familiar with the tide level for your golden hour, and making sure you will be within the window to safely return.  

4) Part Of The Beach Remains Closed

As you know, the SCDNR is passionate about wildlife and wildlife management is one of their primary purposes for properties like Botany Bay.  The south end of the beach will remain closed until August 1st to protect oystercatchers, Wilson’s plovers, and a colony of least terns while they are nesting and raising their young on the beach.  This means when you arrive at the beach from the causeway, the entire area to the right of the causeway is completely closed until August 1st, when chicks will be mobile.  Please respect this and stay to the left. 

5) New Dangers To Be Aware Of

Prior to hurricane Matthew, there were always roots, spikes and tree remains that posed a danger to guests traveling the beach in the dark prior to sunrise. This is not something to take lightly.  With the change of the entire landscape at the beach, there are now more obstacles than ever to be aware of.  Having a head lamp or flashlight will be very important when you arrive just before sunrise.  

6) Rules To Abide:

Please remember the rules and regulations from last year still apply.  Specifically the following:

- Drones are not permitted at anytime.

- Signing in at the kiosk before entering the property is mandatory.  Keep in mind, this is exceptionally vital because the record of traffic helps the SCDNR to monitor the ratio between human footprint and wildlife.  

- Removal of shells, sea life or artifacts can result in a $475 fine.  

- You must be off the property 30 minutes after sunset. 

7) Give Back

It absolutely takes a village to keep Botany protected, cleaned and accessible.  As photographers we take stunning imagery from there.  We want to encourage local photographers that if you visit Botany often, that you consider giving back by volunteering.  They always welcome folks to come help them.  

8) Be Extra Kind

The folks who volunteer and work out there are protective of this sacred place.  Give extra grace where grace is needed and please be mindful of the rules.  After all, they are there for our safety.  

In closing, the closure and destruction that nature enforced is a strong reminder to all nature photographers that what we photograph and document is ever changing and needs our protection.  Please obey all of the above rules, and take ownership not just of this property, but of all land in helping to protect it.  

Restaurant Review: Prohibition

Let’s face it, there are hundreds of options when choosing where to be on a Friday night in downtown Charleston.  This past weekend we had friends in town, one of who is an accomplished musician.  So on the list of fun things to do hunting down some really excellent jazz music. 


After some online browsing and research, I stumbled on Prohibition.  I’ve heard a lot about it from guests who have come out on tour with us, but had never personally been. 

The atmosphere was fun and fresh.  Edison light bulbs hung from the ceiling, intimate tables lined the wood paneled walls and the music didn’t disappoint.  When you open with Gershwin, it rarely does.   

There were three separate areas to the building.  The first (that you enter into) includes a long bar, with the live music towards the end of the room.  You pass through a narrow hall to reach a room with another bar, high ceilings, and cute décor.  Finally, in the back is a lovely patio area that was sublime on that warm Friday night.


The food selection was minimal.  Be sure to check the menu prior to going, however upon comparison I realized the menu on the website is outdated from what I had been given at the restaurant.  I ordered the Charcuterie & Cheese ($25) along with the Foie Gras Crème Brulee ($14).   The Charcuterie & Cheese was as you’d expect it to be.  The Foie Gras Crème Brulee was an interesting combination that some at our table enjoyed, and others found disappointing.  Combining two favorites such as this gave a distinct foie gras flavor with a crème brulee texture.  It was paired with a few pieces of bread (more would have been appreciated for the amount of crème brulee served). 

The wine and drink menu was extensive with some interesting recipes that would be fun to try. Pricing was fairly standard for downtown Charleston.   Here's a link to the drink menu

In summary, if you’re looking for a fun, relaxed atmosphere for exceptional music and drinks, this is a great option.  With all of the exceptional places to eat in Charleston, I wouldn’t waste your time eating here, but absolutely include this in your plans as a fun place to land after dinner.   

It's Our Birthday And We Want To Thank You!

Dear guests and friends,

Three years ago today we flung open the doors to our business and jumped head first into entrepreneurship.  At the time, we weren't sure how Charleston Photography Tours would be received but within a very short time, you (and we do mean YOU) made all the difference in the world. 

Without the help of your trip advisor reviews, and choosing to make us a part of your trip to Charleston, we would never be where we are today.  

We wish we could celebrate a big birthday party with each of you today, but instead we wanted to send out this little note to let you know that we appreciate each of you more than we can say. 

As you jump out of the Jeep after each tour, we truly do consider you a new friend.  So on this 3rd birthday of Charleston Photogrpahy Tours, we are putting a candle on the cake for each of you! 

Thank you!

Keith & Tiffany 

5 Places to Photograph in Downtown Charleston

Whether you’re staying on one of the islands for multiple days, or your cruise ship has pulled into the port for a few hours, downtown has a lot to offer all photographers.  Below are a few of our locations we consider the best that our Holy City has to offer. 

Rainbow Row

Where:  79 – 107 East Bay Street

What makes this spot so unique is the gorgeous pastel colors of the row houses. What makes it equally as difficult to capture are the row of cars that are sure to be parked directly in front of the homes.  There are two ways to bypass the distraction of the vehicles.  First, you can stand along the sidewalk directly next to the buildings and shoot diagonally.  Second, you can cross the street, position yourself low to the ground and use the plant life on the opposite sidewalk to hide the vehicles.

Pineapple Fountain

Where:  Waterfront Park

Iconic to Charleston, this fountain is a symbol of our hospitality and the warm southern welcome you’ll receive when you come to visit our city.  We love to photograph this location before sunrise where you can watch the sun appear and burst through the clouds just behind the fountain.  If you arrive before sunrise, you may find the fountain hasn’t been turned on yet.  Just wait for it, the fountain will come alive as the dawn breaks.  Alternatively, this is a great long exposure shot (as seen here) that can be taken just after sunset and you’ll be guaranteed the fountain is flowing.  

Church Street

Where: Historic District

When you combine one of our favorite streets with the warm light of the shops in the late afternoon, we think this place is perfection.. A tripod will be needed, along with a lot of patience.  The photograph here was taken at 125 Church Street.  The length of Church Street is filled with photographic opportunities for window boxes, iron work, and shops as shown here.

8 Legare Street

Location: Historic District

Built in 1857, we love the charm of the entrance to this private residence.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find the gate open and photographic potential from the sidewalk.  Be respect the privacy of the owners when taking images of their homes. 

Iron Work of Legare Street & Charleston

Perhaps one of the icons Charleston is known for is it’s beautiful iron work that adorns our city.  You’ll find the pieces of art as gates, over windows and you may also notice what seems like a window from the sidewalk into a private garden.  This was known as a clairvoyee and was designed to allow folks to small glimpse into another world.

These are just a few of our favorites in downtown Charleston.  We hope during your next visit you’ll be able to look a few of these up and share your images with us.  In addition, during your next trip to Charleston, be sure to check out our half day and full day tours for an excursion that will take you off the beaten path and into an adventure. 

Until next time! 


Southern Hospitality: The Significance Of The Pineapple in Charleston

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When you visit Disney World, there are hidden Mickeys scattered throughout the park.  We are fairly certain Walt Disney stole this idea from Charleston and her pineapples.  If you take a 5-minute stroll, you’ll do well if you can make it a few feet without spotting an ornamental carving or sculpture of the fruit.

To understand the significance of the pineapple, we have to travel back to its origins.  It’s said that on his second voyage to the colonies, Christopher Columbus discovered the pineapple. He then returned to Europe with a sample of the fruit.  Sweets were uncommon and a luxury few could afford.  Sugar which had been refined from cane was exceptionally costly as it was imported from the orient.   At the time of Columbus, the pineapple was considered a luxury exclusive for the nobility of the day.  King Charles II posed for an official portrait with a pineapple, which was meant to display his wealth and preeminence.

Later as the colonies in the Americas began to grow, hostesses would welcome guests to dinner parties and make a grand display of the table setting.  She would wait for all of the guests to be gathered before the French doors, with flourish and drama she would then reveal the table setting.  Most often those who were prominent in the community would go to great lengths to have a pineapple displayed as the tallest feature of the table.  In fact, for those who could not afford the expense of a pineapple, they would rent one for the day from a local merchant.  The pineapple would then be returned the following day to be sold to someone who would enjoy it as décor before indulging in it. 

Southern legend tells the tales of sea captains coming home from their voyages and impaling a pineapple at the gate of their home, which would signify to all neighbors that he had returned from sea and was welcoming guests into his home. 

Through the customs and legends above, the pineapple became a symbol of hospitality and friendship. 

On your next journey to Charleston, take a stroll down the historic streets and count how many pineapples you can find.   The one thing you can count on when you're in Charleston is that you'll truly experience southern hospitality at its best.  

Looking for a photography tour in Charleston?  We would love to have you join us on an upcoming adventure.     

Or join us for our photography workshops to these great locations.

Inspired By The Familiar

Are you itching for your next adventure or trip?  We are as well.  On a daily basis Keith is talking about us running away and photographing the mountains covered in snow.  This last month was a  busy one for us.  We welcomed the editor of Landscape Photography Magazine, Dimitri Vasileiou to our home and hosted him for 4 days over Tiff’s birthday.  

During his visit we had the opportunity to catch up, chat and talk shop about photography.  We also took him on a mini tour of the area which included the Angel Oak tree. 

For those of you who have been to Charleston, the Angel Oak may have been on your list of places to see, or perhaps we took you there on a tour.  When we went there with Dimitri, we weren’t exactly excited about going there (just to be honest).  We’ve seen it a thousand times, and even more than that, we’ve seen it photographed from what seems like every angle. 

Surprisingly, that trip to the Angel Oak was inspiring.  Tiff captured this image with a new perspective and it caused us to reassess the joy that can be found in the familiar. 

Recently Keith was chatting with a guest over how often he’s at the boneyard beach.  Watching Keith photograph is inspiring because he never accepts the same compositions and he’s always approaching the familiar with a new set of eyes.  He created Blush Of Dawn (shown here) out of a desire to challenge himself to see something new at this familiar location.

With the holidays surrounding us, you’ll likely be traveling to familiar places to be with friends and family during the season.   We want to challenge you to find your familiar places, step out and look at it with fresh eyes.  You never know, a piece of art might just be waiting for you to create it. 

20 Christmas Ideas For Your Photographer

Shopping for anyone can be tough, but especially adults.  This year, to help you with gift ideas we put together a list of 20 of our favorite things that we think would make amazing Christmas gifts for your photographer.  

Petzl - Tikka XP Headlamp 180 Lumens - $49.95

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  Hiking to your location during the night can be unsafe, even if you know the trail.  Having a headlamp such as this will keep your hands free, and your vision clear to see what’s ahead of you. 


Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  Even in Charleston, SC during winter our hands can get cold from the air coming off the ocean.   For all other locations this product is just a no brainer. 


Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  Whether you’re hiking as a couple, with friends, or in a photography workshop, never worry about getting lost from your group.  This is a great safety piece for your photographer.


Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  As with the headlamp, sometimes you’re trekking over uneven ground, over roots, and in precarious conditions.   These waterproof boots will keep your feet dry and your footing sure.


Photography Level:  Intermediate to Advanced

Best Use:  We love the Nisi Filter Holder System.  This is a top quality product that will make turning your circular polarizer a breeze while your square filters are mounted.

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  With landscape photography, we want maximum sharpness.  One way we achieve that is making sure our camera is totally still.  When we saw this product at Photo Plus in October, we just had to have one of our own.

Photography Level: Any

Best Use:  To keep warm!  Brrrrr.  And we love this color!



Photography Level:  Intermediate to Advanced

Best Use:  If you love textures, painting and photography this is the program for you. It's sure to provide hours of creative fun!  

Slik Lite CF-422 - $304.95

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  This is one of our very favorite travel tripods of all time.  It’s carbon fiber material makes it incredibly light weight, and we think the light at the end of the center column is pretty dang cool. 


Photography Level:  Intermediate to Advanced

Best Use:  Tiff can’t live without hers for post processing.  You attach this to your computer so that you can make small micro adjustments in your post processing workflow and detailed brush strokes. 

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  A tent that glows?  Need we say more….


Velvet 56 - $499.00

Photography Level:  Any 

Best Use:  This has long been on Tiff’s wish list.  Create beautiful, ethereal macro photos with lens.



Photography Level:  Intermediate - Advanced

Best Use:  The Nisi filter system is a stellar product with minimal to no color casting, and superb manufacturing. 

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  If you want a unique way to show off your images, we can’t recommend this digital frame enough.  The frame adjusts to the ambient light in the room and is by far is the most impressive digital frame we’ve ever seen.  The frame is also controlled by an app on your smartphone or tablet.  This would be great in your home or office.

Photography Level:  Serious beginner - Advanced

Best Use:  It’s Really Right Stuff.  Spend the money once, and it will be the last tripod you’ve ever purchased. 

Helpful Hint:  If you’ve been debating on purchasing a RRS tripod, act soon.  Prices are increasing by 5 – 10% come January 2017.


Phantom 4 Drone - $1,499.00

Photography Level:  Anyone interested in flying drones and areal photography.

Best Use:  We don’t even think this needs an explanation……it’s just that cool.

Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  It’s pretty common knowledge that when Tiff got her hands on the Fujifilm, she never looked back.  If you want gorgeous color straight out of camera, this is the one for you.  This camera also includes the 18-55mm lens, which is the most common lens that Tiff uses in the field. 


Photography Level:  Any

Best Use:  Again, this one probably doesn’t need much of an explantation. 



Photography Level:  Intermediate - Advanced

Best Use:  Invite Tiff over so she can drool over your new toy.  Seriously though, not only can you use a pen to make detailed brush strokes and adjustments in your post processing, but you can do so by having a screen on the tablet so you know exactly where you’re making the adjustments.

Photography Level:  Come One, Come All

Best Use: If you love adventure and have a desire to do more with your photography, come join us on any our 2017 adventures.  We’d love to have you!! 

Gear Trends: Necessary Additions Or Distraction?

It’s Thanksgiving week! Black Friday ads, commercials, newspaper inserts and pop-ups on our internet browser are all blaring the hottest gift ideas, discounts and deals (check out our blog post later this week for our own list of gift ideas). 

This morning while in the office fielding through emails, we came across something that grabbed our attention. 

Do y'all remember the Lytro that was introduced last fall as the first camera that records the light?  The technology that they have created allows you to change the focus point and perspective of the pictures after the point of capture.  What this means is that if you have taken an image of a flower in the foreground and there’s a barn in the background, you can decide at a later time which you would like to be in focus.     

Here’s the question we ask ourselves: “Is this cutting edge technology that will change the game, or is it simply a passing trend?” 

Although the jury is still out on that question for the Lytro specifically, our eyebrows raised when we were directed to this website this morning to find that the regularly high priced item in question was reduced from $1,299.99 to $349.99.  

Check it out here:  Lytro 

In our opinion, at $349.00 this could be a really fun Christmas gift for yourself or your photographer.   What’s Christmas without gifting unnecessary techy toys?



We'd like to share some news with you!

We are very proud to announce the launch of our new company,


It’s all because of you, that we’re writing this blog post.  To every single person that has come out on tour with us since we started, who has written a review, and to those of you who told us you want to keep coming back and go other places, we’re personally directing this post to you.

You’ve asked us the question, “where else can we go” and we’re really excited to share our new adventure that was created with you in mind. 

As ya’ll know we passionately love Alberta, Canada.  Not only did Tiff grow up there, but it’s one of the most breathtaking places on the planet.  We’re heading back in June, and we want to take you with us.  You’ll find this trip much reduced in price from the previous trips that we did in years past.  This is our game now, and we’re changing the rules. 

Some things you’ll find that set us apart is that we’re doing away with financial penalties to those who travel alone and wish to room alone.    If you want to save a few dollars, we’ll see if we can pair you up with another guest and we’ll reduce your rate even further. 

In addition you’ll also find fall foliage trips to the Blue Ridge, Charleston In Bloom, Spring Time In The Smokies and a Waterfall Chasing trip is in the works. 

As always, spaces are limited so make your deposit to hold your place soon.  Also, stay tuned and make sure you sign up for the mailing list so you’ll be notified when new trips become available. 

Again, we couldn’t have done this without you, so we want to hear your feedback. 

Until Our Next Adventure,

Keith & Tiff

Speaking out...

Standing at the opening to one of the Lowcountry’s oak allee's can leave you breathless. If you aren’t familiar with the allee’s, they are roads (oftentimes dirt) with Live Oak trees. These trees and the roads were intentionally planted and planned. In some locations, the branches will drip with Spanish Moss that blows with the wind and becomes kissed with the evening sunlight.

Over the years as these oaks mature, the branches reach up to heaven and stretch out over the road to create an intricate cathedral of limbs and leaves. We often stand, stare and admire the forethought the plantation owners would have had to invest in the cost and time that these oaks require to reach the beauty of maturity. For most, planting these majestic oaks wasn’t for themselves, their children or in some cases, even their grandchildren. These planters had the long term vision of what it would look like generations from where they personally stood.

This brings us to a position that we can no longer be silent about. The history of Charleston and it’s surrounding areas is unmatched and unlike anything you will experience. Whether it’s the oak alee’s, the majestic seascapes, or the Lowcountry marshlands, Charleston is utterly and simply charming. It’s been 2+ years now since we have been in the business of teaching and leading visitors of Charleston to these special locations. During this time, we’ve hosted a great many people. It’s also no secret that as spring blooms, many workshop instructors bring groups ofpeople here with them to educate and show their guests the beauty of Charleston. 

Before we get into things, we want to very clearly express one thing: We love the tourism industry of Charleston, and as many of you know, we are very happy to befriend and support any photographer who wants to come to Charleston and share the beauty of our Lowcountry. However, they need to respect it. Herein likes our issue.

This spring, we saw no less than 20 different workshop companies (that we know of) come to Charleston with their guests to host workshops. Most of them are top notch people, who are talented, genuine, respectful and good folks who have integrity and the interest of their participates in mind.  

We are very sorry to report that during the last month, we have come upon two different locations here in Charleston who have expressed concern, distrust, and feelings of being violated by a workshop instructor who failed to show respect where respect was due. 

When we heard the first complaint, we wrote it off as someone possibly having a bad day. We then heard it for the second time from another very large reputable location, and it was obvious that it could not go unaddressed. Especially when it was made known to us that location policies were being changed because of the rude and disrespectful behavior of one instructor.  We don’t have any desire to name names here, or conduct a public flogging, but we do have one clear message that we want to spread: This is our home. If you come here, respect it and the people in it.  

We live and do business here 365 days a year and we are honored that you come here with your workshop participants, but please respect the locations here and owners of the properties that you attend. Follow the rules, respect them, and do right by them. Leave the location better than when you arrived. We’d even go so far as to say that if you see trash, pick it up. Don’t be rude. Be courteous to other workshops around you. 

Charleston is preserved in time because of the people who have loved, cared and valued it. As a company, Charleston Photography Tours stands with the local business owners and we will openly support both your existing and new rules, policies and procedures. 

To all the local companies who have been treated with disrespect, on behalf of all upstanding photography workshop providers we want to publicly apologize to the city of Charleston, the entire Lowcountry, locals, businesses and other tour operators for any negative experiences you’ve had with photographers. We can confidently say that any negative experiences you’ve had is the exception, not the rule. 

To workshop providers who come and respect the locations and people here, you have our utmost respect and if you are ever in need, we would be honored and eager to help you however we can to make sure your entire experience here in Charleston is exceptional. When you return next year, expect policy changes with some of the locations, which you normally attend.

Until next year or your next return to Charleston, we wish you much success and great light.