Photo Walk in Kalmia Gardens — Hartsville, South Carolina

2015 June 16

We needed a day trip on Memorial Day. My husband had been to Hartsville, SC a few times and we decided it was the perfect distance for an out-n-back drive. If we had time I wanted to find a cute lunch place, explore the Kalmia Gardens on the site of the original Thomas Hart House & Namesake of the town.


Thomas hart home kalmia garden in hartsville, SC


Join me on a Photo Walk through Kalmia Gardens in Hartsville, SC

There were a few other nearby options (which we didn’t even come close to driving to in one day…) like: locating the National Cemetery in Florence where a grave marker of a woman who impersonated a man in the Civil War lies. Or finding The Button Museum and a Topiary Garden both located in Bishopville, SC.

Challenging My Photography Skills in Kalmia Gardens, Hartsville, SC

I’ve found in the past when I’m on a hiking or walking trail like the one in Kalmia Gardens (so named for a flower located there I believe) that the walking trail photos all end up looking the same. A lovely curve in the walking path in my eyeball seems graceful and picturesque, but when I take the photo it’s boring and well… sucks.
Maybe it’s a ‘had to be there in person’ kind of thing?

1 Kalmia Garden in Hartsville study of a bike path photography goodncrazy carissa rogersSee the path –> if you can try to imagine being there in the dappled shade and mossy edged bike trail. The trees and bushes acting as a moving umbrella over your head on a hot afternoon. The various shades of green competing with each other. Smells of fresh pine mingled with undertones of moldy forest decay.
The first two pictures are well.. boring and flat I guess?

Even if I over- pop the greens and bring out the yellows. Ho-hum. Yawn.

The third image makes me much happier bringing the tree trunk into the right third of the rule of thirds. Plus focusing in on the bark patterns. I guess there’s a V-shape if you look hard forcing your eye to wander down the path, and wonder what’s around the bend… still…


Overall.. just blah.


Now add your HUSBAND! And WHAM!


kalmia garden in hartsville-6

Now that boring path looks like somewhere I’d like to wander… slowly… with my hands in my pockets. The sparkle on the trees makes me happy and his slight saunter… walking away from me = just enough movement to make the photo REAL. Same path. MUCH better photo!

I’ve learned the secret… people have to be in it to win it. At least for me and my nature shots.


kalmia garden in hartsville

You have to look closely and ignore the wonderfully well placed porta potty for a second. The gate in reverse says Kalmia Gardens on it. The metal scrollwork is fabulous. But the gate alone to me is kind of dull. A pretty gate. But Add the BLUE Johnny on the spot in the DEAD center and I love it. My eye is drawn from the yellow to the blue and back again. Breaking all the rule of thirds stuff, cuz I need that potty right in the middle of course!


kalmia garden in hartsville-8

Unlike my boring path photos above, this one works for me on a couple levels. The Bike Route sign is vivid and different than you might normally see. The Path curving hard to the left makes you want to crane your neck just a little bit even though it’s ‘just a picture’… This shot isn’t near as flat as the top photos. Now if a kid on a bike would just ride past me… I could test if inserting the human element works here as well as above??


kalmia garden in hartsville-17



Close up of that Bike Route sign. Because I have a thing for signs. Can I make the background 100% blurred into bokeh? Maybe. But it turns out the shot I liked best had a little bit of the bush behind still in some amount of focus. I placed the sign down and to the right a bit. Leaving the eye some space to rest…. (Or you know.. add a Pinterest phrase later…!).





Let’s start with a close up of the front porch of the Thomas Hart House. I was standing a ways away to capture the WHOLE home, but my camera kept zooming close into the porch all by itself! Later as I was editing I kept going back and forth, cropping in MUCH closer than this. Zooming back out to most of the porch. I couldn’t figure out what I loved about it. The crisp focus of the bricks on the steps? The diagonal of the metal stair bannister? The Black rocking chairs in their Southern Glory?


Thomas Hart House in kalmia garden in hartsville-14

In the end I settled for a semi-close up of the stairs a bit off center. I don’t know why? Inviting maybe? I’m hoping for cool lemonade at the top of those stairs!

The Thomas E. Hart House was built sometime in the 1820s. Much history surrounds the home and original plantation. At the turn of the century it changed hands several times and in the late 1900s was taken over by a non-profit. The grounds are much reduced in size from what they once were. And the Garden is open to the public year round. You can arrange for private events on the grounds as well.


kalmia garden in hartsville-12

Peeking in towards the house from the main bike trail gives only a slight glimpse of the home and porch I couldn’t help but focus in on above. You simply HAVE to walk closer… I mean what if it’s haunted or something!


kalmia garden in hartsville-13

Here we are closer… and about the spot where I zoomed in to capture just the steps and rocking chairs on the very inviting porch. Can almost see the whole house in this frame.


kalmia garden in hartsville-16

After walking past the home I finally found my favorite view. Framed with the large tree trunk out front and the overhanging branches from the same tree… if there ARE ghosts in those upper windows THIS would be the perfect place to capture them!

Once again my husband helps me out here…

kalmia garden in hartsville-15


The house and grounds and gardens are beautiful on their own especially to wander around the corners for each new peek. But add that human element and SHAZAAM!

The whole photo takes on a new (better) feel.

Who cares about rule of thirds and standard composing… his red shirt against the greenery and white home. Plus the fact that he’s walking in front of me and I’m capturing his back side.

Something about it all says… wait for me.. let’s walk over THERE together! I want to see those front steps!




Camera Base = Nikon D5000 (but I’m ready for an upgrade!)
Lens = Nikkor Prime 50mm 1.8
F-Stop 2.5, Shutter 1/2000, ISO 200

A few patriotic shots of the Hartsville’s main street showing off its Memoria Memorial Day Best Colors…

Main Street in hartsville

Gave this photo a bit of a vintage feel since the main street of this small town is a bit vintage!

Main Street US Flags  in hartsville-2

We ate lunch at Groucho’s Deli, surprisingly yummy and didn’t realize it’s a chain? (There’s one near us back at home!) Mainly I’m just showing off here… see the reflection of the flag in the Deli Window?

Oh come on! I was happy with it anyway…

Share Button

Comments are closed.

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera