Angel Oak, South Carolina, USA by Craig Bill

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Picture Story

Spending time exploring the coast of South Carolina was time well spent. Old plantation locations settled in among aging, mossy trees and green country roads naturally spark curiosity and adventure. While hanging around the Charleston area, I found so many featured spots of interest that are highly under reported. And photographically, it’s a wonderful place to play.

Among other places on my list to visit, the Angel Oak tree was on the top. This little private park can come with lots of protection and lots of people visiting. So to photograph it, you have to be patient. Angel Oak is said to be one of the oldest living oak trees east of the Mississippi River. It stands 65 feet (20m or 6 stories) tall, is 28 ft (8.5 m) in circumference, and an area of 17,000 square feet is shaded by its looming reach. The largest branch reaches 187 feet. It’s age is estimated to be close to 400 years old!

These native Southern live oaks are often found in the lowland country of the coastal Carolinas or the “Lowcountry”. They tend to grow sprawling outward more than upward but, due to its historic age, the Angel Oak shatters many of these records. Its branches radiate in all directions, with some snaking underground and then growing back up above the surface.

Its name comes from the Angel Estate, once owned by couple Justus Angel and Martha Waight Angel. Now owned by the City of Charleston but the name has remained, However, local legends say the ghosts of former slaves appear as angels around the tree from time to time inspiring me call this shot “Landing Angels”.

A warm gel filter and color balance tweaks turned this always green tree a harvest orange. Lens filters, are often confused as “coloring the light”, but in reality they only let a narrow band of color make it through the lens to the film or sensor. In other words, it’s not the world through rose tinted glasses, it turns out the rose was there all along.


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