Shooting Match Coming to Saluda Shoals Park

I admit it. I’m a shutterbug. I’m also just a tad competitive, so it’s like catnip when a photography contest comes around. You may have heard that the always breathtaking unearth celebration of nature and the arts is returning to Saluda Shoals Park at the end of September, and festival organizers are seeking submissions for their unearth Amateur Photography Contest. Do I hear bike trip? My son and I soon will trek to Saluda Shoals in pursuit of that winning photo because, to qualify, photos must be taken at Saluda Shoals Park. The judges will be looking for images that capture the magic and natural beauty of the park. You can take pictures of trees, the river, trails, animals, and even people enjoying the park (but be sure to get photo releases if you submit any pictures with identifiable people in them; the critters, however, probably don’t have legal representation).

While I’m on the subject (and although I’m merely a hobbyist at this point), I would like to offer some tips for shooting your best nature photos. Did you ever notice how most sunset photos tend to look alike? Sure, they’re pretty and all, but boring unless there’s some special, different element to them. And while it’s great to stand back and see the “big picture,” I’ve had some surprising success focusing on tiny, off the beaten path treasures I happen upon. There is so much beauty everywhere you look as long as you just see. Fungi are among nature’s most fascinating ‘sculptures,’ and they come in all sort of shapes and colors. Don’t overlook the lichen on tree bark, insects, small reptiles, even the tiniest of flowers. Focus your lens on them and see what happens.

Earlier this year, I took a hiking trip to Jones Gap State Park in the Upstate. I just happened to bring my camera with me. Here are a few examples of what I found there (and shot on sight) over the course of just a couple of hours.

See. It’s OK to get down and dirty, play a little Pachisi with the beetles. There’s a lot that’s below (or even above eye level). Anyway, I was pleased with these shots.

OK. I know a lot of you will want to join me at the unearth photo contest AWARDS CEREMONY on Thursday, Sept. 29. Photos will be exhibited at the park’s Environmental Education Center throughout the entire unearth weekend, Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. Cash prizes will be awarded in Adult and Junior divisions in each of four categories: General Nature, Human Nature, and Digital Creativity. The deadline for entries is Saturday, September 17, at 5:00 p.m. For a copy of contest rules, go to or call (803) 772-1228.

And if I see you on the trails at Saluda Shoals Park between now and the 17th, well, … bring it!

- K. Hartvigsen


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