Travel Tales from The Hub

I've been to a lot of places, but never to Charleston, SC

Ken Hubbard

By Ken Hubbard

I travel all over the United States, from the largest of cities such as Chicago, Illinois to some of the more rural like Hatch, New Mexico. No matter where I may find myself there always seems to be a photograph to be taken, interesting history to be learned and good food to be eaten. Photography is my career as well as my passion. There is nothing better than being on the road capturing images of something as simple as a small town restaurant owner or a grand vista of the great American landscape.

Over a recent holiday dinner, I was asked if there were still any “bucket list” U.S. cities I wanted to visit. At first I was a little stumped. Mind you, this question came well into Thanksgiving dinner and there were more than a few empty bottles of wine on the table by then. After scanning the map of the United States in my mind for a few moments, I came up with a true classic American city. Here are my Tales from the Hub: Charleston, South Carolina…

© Ken Hubbard
Image Captured with Tamron’s 28-300m Di VC PZD: ISO 64, F/13, 1/30th Sec. @ 50mm

Good food was easy to find
While in some locations good food can be hard to find, with a little effort and willingness to look off the beaten path, I can usually find some place that satisfies my taste buds. Fortunately for me, it didn’t take much time or effort to find great spots in Charleston. The food of this region, and this town in particular, is known around the world. Charleston has been named one of the “friendliest towns in America” by numerous publications. So if you happen to be unsure of where to go, locals are more than happy to share their opinions and suggest their favorites. In the past I have been accused of being a bit chatty while out, but in a town like Charleston it pays off. I’m never afraid to spark up a conversation while sitting in a local restaurant or bar, usually the more local the better. 

While sitting at the bar in The Griffon Pub (located at 18 Vendue Range) I was having a conversation with a local couple and they confirmed a few of the spots I was considering. One being Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oysters (located at 698 King St.) and they assured me it was a must stop. I proceeded to go there the next day for lunch and it did not disappoint. Located in a converted auto body shop outside of the main tourist area of downtown, it has an unassuming exterior but once you enter into its open and energetic bar and dining area, you know you are in a true foodie destination. A genuinely friendly bartender served me an order of spicy fried chicken, 1 & 1/2 dozen oysters and hush puppies. I left completely satisfied with my meal and ready to take a nap. Not on this trip though, no time for that…

© Ken Hubbard

© Ken Hubbard
Images From Leon’s Fine Poultry and Oysters captured with Tamron’s 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD

Shem Creek, once a vibrant shrimp industry
With its shores lined with boats ranging from small aluminum outboards to fancy leisure boats and the occasional shrimp boat, Shem Creek snakes its way through the town of Mount Pleasant, SC eventually making its way to Charleston Harbor. At it’s peak from the 1940s to 1970s the shrimp industry along Shem Creek had grown into a major part of the local economy. Today, because of industry regulation, illegal fishing and cheap outside sources, the shrimp industry has been dramatically reduced in this area.

  With that understanding I was still determined to capture some images of the shrimp boats along the creek. The town has created a beautiful park next to the river, not surprisingly called Shem Creek Park. It has a wonderful boardwalk built over the marshy shoreline making it an easy walk along this scenic area. It faces westward, making it an ideal location for a warm beautiful sunset.

On the afternoon I was there I was lucky enough to have a few Shrimp boats docked on the opposite shoreline. For the first image I used the boardwalk as a dramatic leading line reaching for the setting sun, positioned to look like it is part of the overhead, like a bright glowing street light. I also wanted to make sure I had room to include the three shrimp boats in the top left corner. The second image is the reflection of a shrimp boat that I ended up flipping in Photoshop so that it looks right side up. The water was very still with only a few small ripples, but just enough to make for a more interesting reflection.

© Ken Hubbard
Image 1- Tamron 28-300mm Di VC USD: ISO 400, F/22, 1/200 Sec. @ 28mm

© Ken Hubbard
Image 2 - Tamron 28-300mm Di VC USD: ISO 64, F/16, 1/15 Sec. @ 70mm

Came for the food, left with a photo
Sometimes I get really lucky when two things I love come together at the same time. In this case it was food and a beautiful photo opp. I had set out to experience one of Charleston’s best oyster shacks, Bowens Island Restaurant (located at 1870 Bowens Island Rd.). It’s hard to call this place a shack, especially when it has won a James Beard award. This “no frills” stand in line to order your food restaurant is an oasis for oysters and shrimp lovers everywhere. With amazing views overlooking Folly Creek from its raised bar and dining area to it’s lower “all you can eat” oyster room where people come to do one thing, shuck and eat oysters, this was the true relaxed coastal Carolina dinner experience I was looking for.

I usually carry some sort of camera with me wherever I go just in case a photo opportunity presents itself. Luckily, that afternoon I had my DSLR with me. As I was finishing up the last few deliciously fried shrimp from my paper boat, the sky, clouds and contrails exploded with color. Without thinking I got up and found myself walking to the outside deck, along with a number of other people, trying to capture this beautiful moment. I truly could not have asked for a better send off…

© Ken Hubbard
Image Captured with Tamron’s SP35mm Di VC USD: ISO 800, F/2.8, 1/6 Sec. ISO 800

For more Images and continued stories about Charleston follow me on Facebook @TamronKen Hubbard