Weekly Photo Challenge -Threshold, Charleston SC

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come.”

Alfred Tennyson



This week’s challenge, Threshold, offers a number of interpretations – two of which I’ve included in my response.  First, I’ve chosen to feature Charleston, SC.  When my husband and I retired from our work in the frenetic technology industry we decided to move to an area with a warmer climate and a slower pace than our home in the northeast.  Charleston became the threshold, or point of entry (as defined in the dictionary), to our new lives in the south.



“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”

Kahil Gibran

The second interpretation comes from a day I spent this week with amazing professional photographer Tony Sweet and his partner Susan. Our local photography club sponsored a day with Tony that renewed my spirit of adventure with photography.  (Tony’s blog post about his day with us can be seen at http://tonysweet.com/blog/ ). He describes a photograph as “raw material” for an end product that will eventually be created by the artist, and a brave new digital world where the only limitation for a photographer is his or her own imagination. While I recognize that there are many purists who disagree, I am not among them. I will certainly continue to enjoy traditional photography, but am excited about the possibilities offered by these alternative approaches as well.



“Lack of comfort means we are on the threshold of new insights.”

Lawrence M. Krauss

So today’s post illustrates my personal commitment on the threshold of a new phase of exploration. Tools like textures, multiple exposures, image overlays, selective saturation and many others are elements of the art of photography which are among those I want to learn and explore. Today’s efforts feel a bit like being back in first grade to me, but I am committed to improving my skills and sharing my results. So, as I post about the wonderful city we chose as the threshold to our new beginning, I’ll use some very elementary textures on various photographs I’ve taken since our relocation. I promise to work on improving my techniques as time goes on if you will promise to tolerate my rudimentary attempts :-).



 “I say be bold, come out of your threshold and ride the wind wherever it goes.”

Tonny K. Brown

As for Charleston, my husband and I lived in the center of town for two years before moving to our island home.  We loved the energy of the city, which exists within the gentility of southern hospitality. People smile and greet one another on the street, shopkeepers and restaurant owners seem genuinely glad to see you. The only remaining descendents of the Gullah people weave their traditional sweetgrass baskets in the street markets as tourists stroll by. Perhaps these are some of the reasons Charleston has been voted the #1 City in the US and Canada by Travel and Leisure, #1 Travel Destination in the World by Conde Nast, and a Top Location for Retirement in Retirement and Good Living.



“Reading is at the threshold of the spiritual life.”

Marcel Proust

Charleston is known as the “Holy City”, boasting over 100 churches to serve its downtown population of just over 125,000 residents.  It was a haven for religious freedom in colonial times and houses the oldest Orthodox Jewish synagogue in the south as well as one of the original houses of worship for French Huguenots fleeing persecution in Europe.  St. Philips, pictured above, sits in the middle of the street and local lore says it was purposely built that way to force residents to think of God as they went about their daily lives.



“Maybe we will meet at the threshold of a dream, and we will not sleep.”

Amany Al-Hallaq

Charleston is a wonderful city for foodies (blessed by personal favorites such as Mike Lata’s newest hotspot, The Ordinary, Kevin Johnson’s The Grocery, and Sean Brock’s Husk-voted 2011’s Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit). It’s also a treasure for nature lovers and photographers (with nearby notables like Magnolia Swamp and Boneyard Beach in addition to the city’s own charming Rainbow Row and Riverfront Park). Its historic homes and antebellum mansions offer a unique view of history as well as beautiful gardens and textures that delight the eye and draw the lens.



“For some, the universe ends at the borders of their villages; even for others, at the threshold of their home doors.”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

A beautiful city situated on the Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is an active harbor from which history bluffs can take a short boat ride to Fort Sumter, known as the site of the first shot of the Civil War. On any given day one might see dozens of sailboats competing in a local race, kayakers cruising peacefully along its Ashley or Cooper Rivers, or a massive yacht carrying its owners to other ports along the widely-traveled Intracoastal Waterway.



Whether you are drawn to weather, food, natural beauty, history, waterways, romance or southern gentility, Charleston is a city that does not disappoint. Put it on your bucket list and then as they say at Nike, Just Do It !

To see how some other bloggers represented their own thresholds, click here.

99 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge -Threshold, Charleston SC

  1. Great series Tina…you capture pieces of Charleston so well. Even though I have not been there, you bring these incredible images to match the stories I have heard of the place (my parents loved it when they visited). Also, I am a huge fan of Patrick Conroy and have dreamt of this place so much!

    • Thanks Randall – if you love Conroy you MUST visit Charleston some day! I did this post more as a travelogue for another blog site but the photography opportunities here are amazing. Appreciate your stopping by!

  2. well I had no idea about Charleston, SC – wow! we have family friends down in Sumter – and that place is, um… unique! And the parts of Charleston you describe remind me a little bit of Hilton Head, NC – and well, I think the family and I need to put Charleston on our place to visit sometime – for sure. Love the pics and quotes – and enjoyed your writing – like this
    “….that delight the eye and draw the lens…” nice….

    lastly, I wondered about how different photographers feel about the digital options – and know a few purists – so I loved how you shared that your photographer friend sees the “photograph as “raw material” for an end product that will eventually be created by the artist, and a brave new digital world…” hmmmmm

    enjoyed this take on threshold. 🙂

    • Thanks Yvette – you really must get to Charleston if you liked Hilton Head – I may be prejudiced but I much prefer it here 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the digital discussion; it’s an interesting argument between the traditionalists and the adventurous!!

    • Thanks very much Nora – I enjoyed blending some of historic Charleston’s features with some of the very modern tools offered by the digital world. Always fun to try new things.

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  4. really fantastic photos…just love the treated ones…nightlights….texture..etc….love viewing CHS through your lens…..GREAT STUFF!!!

    • Thanks Svetlana – you’d love Charleston and would, I think, enjoy the history. There is a thriiving Jewish ocmmunity here and our roots are based on religious freedom. Do let me know if you’re ever planning to visit – would love to meet you!

  5. Great start Tina! My favorite is the window reflection shot. It’s amazing there are so many different possibilities within photography and I agree the only limitation for a photographer is his or her own imagination. Excited and looking forward to see more such photographs. I am sure it’ll be a great learning experience for you.

    • Thanks so much Uday. I’ve always been a big fan of exploring new things so it’s fun to embark on a new journey with photography. I think effects like these will be a minority feature for me but an enjoyable diversion!

  6. Love your interpretations Tina!! And the textures you have applied to some of your gorgeous images. The windows are my favourites, but they are all so beautiful.

  7. I’m excited for you! You must be having a lot of fun – the photos show it. I am not a purist either, but I haven’t begun to explore what can be done with photo images in all the programs that are available. You’ve done Charleston a good deed here – and I bet you could do many more posts about it. My one visit was so long ago, but I loved it so much – actually I think I was only a pre-teen, but I remember photos I took looking through some of the wrought iron gates, and one of a row of live oaks that must be much bigger now. Then, as you said, you add in the hospitality, the food, the history – Charleston really has a lot to offer. (The window reflections image and Neon Nightlights are my favs!)

    • Many thanks Lynn – yes it’s always exciting to try something new and I’m enjoying having another opportunity to use some of my time-worn photos! Definitely lots of wonderful iron gates down here, and the alleys of oaks are phenomenal – you must come back one day!!

  8. How lovely to hear you enthuse about experimenting like this Tina ! Great variety and What lovely experimental photo effects Tina … I hope you do more … nothing like a little fun with editing and using your creativity in a different way 🙂
    Thank you for the links to Tony Sweet …apart from his super images I liked seeing a photographer on location talking through their flow …

    • Thanks PT! I did have fun with it and that’s what it’s all about really. Always great to try something new, isn’t it? So happy you enjoyed Tony – he’s the best!

  9. Great post, Tina! I love how you interweave the personal story with the description of Charleston. We spent quite a bit of time in Savannah when our son was in college at SCAD, but we clearly need to spend time exploring Charleston. It’s now officially on “the list.”

    • Thanks so much Patti. Savannah and Charleston have quite a lot in common but personally I prefer Charleston (although we also enjoy visiting Savannah now and then). It’s a bit smaller and more personal IMHO 🙂 Hope you make it down one day – as they say at Duncan Donuts, It’s Worth The Trip!

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  11. Hi Tina, loved your take on the challenge. I was a bit of a purist….don’t like much post work but have been experimenting with Picasa and would do more with Lightroom if I could read the labels. However, I am swinging round to ‘fiddling’ a bit more with photos. It is a new threshold of photography which I look forward to embracing also.

    • It is indeed a new threshold WM and I’m all for embracing it. May some day decide it’s not for us, or maybe use it occasionally, or maybe become a real maven! Who know – for now it’s just fun to be trying something new. Appreciate your visit and comment!

  12. Tina, these are all quite captivating and hardly rudimentary. I have no clue how to incorporate these techniques as I’m still learning basic photography, but i’d say you have a good grasp on them. I really like the sweetgrass basket and the neon nightscape. Excellent post and I’ll look forward to learning more from you about this.

    • Thanks Laurie – you’re very kind! I’m so new to this and my knowledge is really elementary but I plan to dig into what’s possible and see what happens. Stay tuned!

  13. Tina, wonderful photos and quotes as usual: I especially love the Gibran and Proust quotes. I also love your photographic “experiments.” Your choices of the “effects” on each one, really match with the photos. I like the window reflection one a lot. 🙂

    • I remember when I was younger how incredibly popular Gibran was – happy you enjoyed that one Sue. And I appreciate your comments on the “effects” – I had fun playing with them.

  14. Hi Tina… have to give you my thoughts, too, on your photo-art. To me there are two aspects to photography. First the actual photograph, the technique and quality there. That has its importance but there is also an importance in your own artistic interpretation of those images. I for one enjoyed your interpretations very much. These are two different talents which you are very good at both. Please continue to enjoy both sides of your artistry. Cheers, KC

    • Many thanks KC! The beauty of it is you can go BOTH ways and it’s all about personal preference. Always fun to try new things right?! Appreciate your weighing in!!

  15. Hi Tina-
    I always enjoy the dialogue with your photos!
    This week, however, I hope you won’t mind if I share an honest reaction to photos…
    I think the special effects drain the energy and feeling out of your photos. You already bring a “special effect” to your photography- your own inner lens- that projects much stronger images than a canned “special effect” could ever add.

    But, for a change…These were fun, and playing is a good for the soul.

    Looking forward to next week!

    • Hi Jane – first, PLEASE feel free to share your reactions whether positive or negative. Feedback is always very important! Second, thank you for such lovely comments about my “inner lens” (love that term BTW). Finally, yes, this post was a bit of a change-up and it was fun seeing the result of using some special effects. I think the key with these is to know how to apply them subtly so that they are not so obviously manipulated. I will continue trying to master some of the techniques while working to further my traditional photography – after all, it’s about the journey and conquering new challenges right?! I have seen some truly beautiful work that applies these technologies much more effectively than my primitive efforts here. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to show you what I mean 🙂 Thanks for your honesty Jane – I truly appreciate it!

      • Hi Tina-
        You are welcome… I would want only the same in return.
        This is the level of conversation that makes blogging such a rewarding experience, don’t you think? As you said, it’s about the journey and conquering new challenges. If blog friends can support each other in the process… I see this as an opportunity for kind of a platform for a 21st century Age of Enlightenment…

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  17. Tina, you continue to awe me with your work….and words. I’m so glad that you found your “threshold” here in Charleston/Kiawah. Yes, really like the neon lights!

  18. Great shots as always Tina. I guess I am old school and prefer the original. I work so hard to get the perfect shot it feels like cheating to change it up. I do appreciate the other techniques and they are cool too. You of course have done an amazing job. Geesh if this is first grade what will you do when you graduate 😉 ?

    • LOL CTB – thanks so much for the visit and for sharing your thoughts. I understand completely what you mean by working for the perfect shot 🙂 Rest assured my originals are all neatly stored beside their manipulated cousins, and each of them has a place in my archives. But sometimes it’s fun to try something new or to experiment with a more artistic approach. I think there’s a place for both styles and I hope to improve enough that you’ll agree wtih me !!!!

      • LOL no I do appreciate the the art side of photos… but I guess I am not there yet (with my own work) since I am still trying to get the perfect shot more on purpose and less by accident 😉

  19. Love your sharing of Charleston via your words and photography. Going to check out your inspiration- Tony Sweet. Sounds like we are going to enjoy the results of your experimentation.

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  21. I like watching you experiment, Tina 🙂 I didn’t mean to stop by today but sometimes you magnetise me- I’m sure you do! Sometimes I love the effects, sometimes I prefer the original, but it’s all part of life’s rich pattern, isn’t it? So long as you see yourself on the threshold like this, you’ll not age. I applaud you 🙂

    • Hi Jo, thanks so much for visiting and for sharing your thoughts! I am humbled by your compliment and agree with you whole-heartedly….sometimes there is improvement, sometimes not – but there is growth along the way and that is indeed part of life’s rich pattern. Your applause is most appreciated 🙂

  22. I like all of these, Tina! Do I have thoughts on these? Absolutely. Some subjective corrective ideas? Sure. But, I also know that comments, even positive comments can dramatically affect the growth process when entering the “Brave New World” of non photographic photography, or anything else off the beaten path. Rather than specific comments, I’ll just say that I like your direction and would encourage you to continue to try whatever you can think of. Remember the quote from an old engineer, Albert Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Another quote from Dr. Einstein, a bit more ominous, but true, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Ignore what others say and follow your own inner voice. And most importantly, Have Fun!

    • Words to live by Tony 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for your encouragement. It was most inspiring to see your work and experience your enthusiasm first-hand. I’m excited about the journey and the possibilities that await!!! Thanks again for a great day.

    • Many thanks Liz! Fun to work with something new although I have no intention of abandoning my traditional roots!!! The whole “textures” scene is new to me and I really need to get much better at a more subtle approach to it, but I’ve seen some gorgeous implementation so am anxious to dig into it. Appreciate your stopping by!

    • Thanks Sharon! The original shot was made when I was working on doing headlights on a long exposure and the photoshop filter created a cool contempo version for me. Happy you enjoyed!

  23. You’ve certainly found your Utopia Tina. What a delightful place to retire to! And I am very impressed with your fledgling use of the digital toolbox. I like to experiment too, but tend to prefer landscapes in their purist form. But windows, doors, buildings, objects – oh yes! And I just love the neon lights – do tell what affect you have used on that image! Please…
    J xx

    • Thanks Jude – yes, I think for the most part I’m a fan of purist landscapes as well but am having tons of fun playing with some of the new tools. For Neon Nightlights I used one of Photoshop’s Filters, in the Artistic set, called “Cutout”. Glad you liked it!

      • Thank you – shall see if my software includes this and start experimenting. Mindst you, you have incredible photos to start with!

  24. Tina, your newest photos are way cool, as the kids would say! And, I enjoy your excellent/instructional commentary as much as the images. Another bravo!

    XOX S

  25. I love your experimentations with the photo-editing tool box Tina. I have been doing the same and it adds a whole new dimension to photographic creativity. Look forward to lots more. Your choices are wonderful by the way. Warmest…Andrew

    • What a lovely comment Andrew, thanks very much. Yes, an added dimension is a great way to put it. I’m excited about learning some new techniques, both for shooting and for manipulation – it really is a brave new world, isn’t it? How in heaven’s name will we ever keep up?!

  26. Woohoo! How fun to stretch the imagination and play with the artsy side of life. As in one of these quotes, you are ‘riding the wind’ just fine! Favs are neon nightlifes, window reflection, and kayaks.
    Cheers! ds

    • Thanks Diane – appreciate your support and lovely comment! Kayaks was my personal favorite because it combined a new technique along with the texturization so it was all the more fun. Altho it seems Neon is the runaway favorite 🙂

    • Hey there Z, so great to reconnect with you!! Thanks for your lovely comment 🙂 Not surprised you like Neon as your colors and art are all so vibrant and alive! Means a great deal when such a wonderful artist appreciates one’s efforts!!

  27. Tina, I’ve heard and read lots of good things about Charleston. We’re going to have to visit it one of these days. As for your new “playing”, as someone who’s just begun to experience the joys of editing, I can assure you that you’ll love it. You’re already doing a marvelous job, as I would expect. My favorite is the window reflection. What editing app are you using? I mostly use Picasa 3 right now.


    • Hi Janet – thanks for your lovely comment. Charleston is indeed a “must see”, hope you get here one day soon. I’ve been editing for a very long time. Started with Picasa but when I moved to Mac I moved to I-photo, then to Aperture and now I use a combination of Aperture, Photoshop and Nik software tools. Tony Sweet had a list of a dozen apps he uses that I have yet to explore. Not so much for editing as for photo manipulation for lack of a better word. So much to learn, so little time 🙂 but having fun along the way, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?!

  28. what a terrific tribute to a beautiful city. I love it there. And I love the new experiments in photography–so edgy and cool. You will be promoted to second grade before you know it! 🙂

    • LOL Lois – second grade here I come!!! Happy to know you’re a charleston fan – it’s a wonderful place to live – we are very happy here as it seems to us the best of all worlds :-). Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • Hi Rick; my pleasure – glad you enjoyed them. Tony is terrific, we were SO lucky to have him. His work is terrific and his energy and enthusiasm are truly boundless. Appreciate your stopping by!

  29. okay, it’s official….. we may have attended the same lecture, but the good twin took over
    for you and the evil twin paid me a visit! As always love your pictures and quotes. Tony’s
    pictures of Kiawah were fabulous!

    • LOL Mary Lynn – not a chance! I know you will put the lecture to great use!! And yes, Tony’s photos were quite something, weren’t they! Such a great reminder of how much there is to learn 🙂

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