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Angel Oak

For those who are unfamiliar, this is Angel Oak, or as locals refer to it..."The Tree", the oldest living creature east of the Rockies...an estimated 1500 years of age. Angel Oak resides on John's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. Angel oak is a "live oak"...a variety indigenous to the deep South. Although these trees aren't usually very tall...Angel Oak has a height of over 65'...but what is most impressive is the circumference of it's main trunk...which is over 25', and it's shade cover of over 17,000 sq. ft. An oddity of the live oak is that many of it's lower limbs grow beneath ground and then reimerge. Live oaks were often planted beside long plantation roads, forming a beautiful canopy, covered with Spanish Moss. Hope you enjoy this one!


Basso Gianluca , February 07, 2011; 07:48 A.M.

Very nice atmospehere !! Gianluca

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Deanna B , February 07, 2011; 10:22 A.M.

The photo is creative and almost eerie. I especially like your description of the tree. We visited Oak Alley Plantation in Louisana and saw long rows of beautiful 300 year old oaks and were so impressed with them that it's hard to imaging one 1500 years old. Nice work John. Thank you.

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Jiro Ogahara , February 08, 2011; 05:11 A.M.


The colors in this picture are amazing.

Your description adds a story to the picture, and at the end you have created a beautiful photo correctly posted in the fine art section.


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Linda McLellan , February 08, 2011; 11:09 A.M.

One of the many things I love about the South are the graceful live oaks. This one is a real beauty among beauties. The quality of the light, the colors and the processing all enhance this wonderful being. And your story as well. I had no idea there were any oaks this old!

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John Galyon , February 11, 2011; 09:18 A.M.

Thanks to all who have commented!  Like Linda, I had no idea that live oaks lived this long until mywife and I found out about Angel Oak in a visit to Charleston several years ago.  It's honestly a nightmare to try to photograph...partly because of it's sheer size, but as much, because finding the right light is very difficult.  Not enough...and there's not enough separation from the surrounding tree foliage, too much, and there's a huge problem with "blown out" spots all over the place.

I'm glad you all enjoyed the story of this old tree...and if you've never visited Charleston, I'd strongly urge you to do so.  South.  It has incredible history, the scenary is varied and spectacular, the food....incredible low-country cuisine. Be sue to visit Hyman's Seafood.  It's a family owned business that's been a Charleston favorite for over a hundred years.  And, ya gotta stay at the Mill House Hotel.  A favorite of Robert E. Lee...considered to be the finest hotel south of Boston.  Try the "shrimp gravy" over biscuits for your breakfast!  And...least I forget...don't miss Alterman Studios. Goodle it and you'll see why that if you're a photographer...it's a "must visit".    Regards...john

Christal Steele , February 18, 2011; 10:19 P.M.


Well, first let me welcome you back to PN!  I was pleasantly surprised to see your name after a long hiatus.  I myself have come and gone over the past months. This is a grand old tree, and I understand the difficulties shooting them.  We have a timeshare at Hilton Head and have spent many years visiting Savannah, Charleston, Beaufort, and the wonderful plantations of the south.  This looks like a perfect specimen for Halloween, with its coloration, and you've managed to keep the bright spot in check.  I can't tell what kind of treatment you've used on this, but it's quite effective and gives it an eerie appearance.  And being the travel buff I am, I particularly enjoy the travel and tour guide advice, which I'll store away for our next visit.  Good to see you back, John!

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John Galyon , February 24, 2011; 11:35 P.M.

Christal,  thanks for the welcome back, and it is so good to hear from you!  It sounds like you've traveled the area far longer and more extensively than I have...so feel free to let me in on any destinations you've found over the years. If you can believe this...I have somehow never spent any time in Beaufort...only passed quickly through trying to get somewhere else without being late.  I probably know more about the town than any human that's never been there!  My wife and I have been giving serious consideration of late to the idea of moving to the Charleston area.  We're looking at Beaufort, Summerville, Goose Creek, and Georgetown as possibilities.  We almost feel more at home in Charleston than we do our actual home of Chattanooga.   But anyway...as for "The Tree"' ( I like saying it..."THE TREE"! )  You have to imagine I'm announcing it like Oprah Winfrey announces her guests:  And now..."THE.....TREE!!!  (I haven't had enough sleep lately and I'm obviously getting a little giddy!)  There's so much of the tree that you really can't see in this shot.  You just have to pick out the 'prime cut' and go with it.  It's simply enormous.  Can you imagine 15, 000 sq.ft. of shade cover?  As for the PP I did on the shot...most of the effect I achieved was by using a brown/orange overlay with a very reduced opacity, and some added saturation. I didn't want to over do the PP to the degree that it ended up looking "cartoonish"...but I did want to exaggerate the appearance for a bit of drama...and was generally pleased with the result.   One thing I don't like, but didn't notice until I had already posted the pic for critique...is the small areas of blue sky showing through the branches at top right.  I should have either changed the color to match the opposite side of the picture, or added some blue to the same general area on the left.  So far no one's said anything about it, but the more I look at it, the more it bugs the hell out of me!      Let's keep in touch, shall we?    Regards,  John

Gail Harmer , January 04, 2012; 03:37 A.M.

Great treatment and colour choice John. This reminds me of the Living Oak we saw in Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, they were amazing, just as this tree is.

A fine capture, with kindest regards, Gail

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John Galyon , April 23, 2012; 07:36 P.M.

thanks, Gail! glad you found my other Angel Oak photos as well. Regards, John

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