I spent the weekend with my mother at our getaway in Bennetts Point, a tiny coastal community in South Carolina. It’s located on one of the “barrier” islands in the ACE Basin. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate for great photographic adventures, but we did do a little exploring Sunday morning. We set out toward Yemassee and the Auldbrass Plantation, which is actually a quite modern plantation designed by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It was “tour” day, sponsored by the Beaufort Open Land Trust, and it was crowded. We didn’t stop, and I didn’t get any photographs.
Our next destination, in the same area, was the ruins of the Old Sheldon Church. We did stop and walk around the grounds for a bit. And I did get a few images. There were few people there. There were a couple of folks leaving, but there was a painter set up working on a canvas of the church. He told us that he had already spent about sixty hours on the canvas and had about forty more hours to go. And this was on the small canvas. He had a large canvas to paint the same subject later on.
Old Sheldon Church is one of many Civil War ruins resulting from Sherman’s march through South Carolina. Actually, there are two version of the story of the burning of the church. In one version, Sherman’s troops burn the church. In the other version, freemen, slaves, and white citizens “raided” the church for materials to rebuild homes after Sherman marched through and destroyed homes. After the church was looted, it was burned perhaps to hide the evidence. I don’t suppose we will know the true story.
These kinds of ruins fascinate me, not only because the history behind them, but because of the striking visual image they present. Naturally, I did not resist the urge to photograph them.
This is my final version of the image. I used two layers of textures from the Photomorphis Artistic Background and Painterly Background collections. I changed the blending modes and opacities, and painted off the textures over the church ruins. Then I applied two actions: a vintage action and a twilight action, again adjusting the opacity and painting off the effects to bring out the ruins.
I wanted to achieve a kind of “brooding” look, a little mysterious, a little ominous, to match the history of the ruins. The ruins are surrounded by graves of folks long dead. I think again of the lines from Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights when Lockwood, the narrator, looks out over the moors where Katherine and Heathcliff are buried and says that he cannot imagine “unquiet slumbers.” I can imagine the unquiet slumbers around these old church ruins, and can easily picture the men and women who founded the church and attended worship here.