While I'm thinking about it, I'd also recommend checking out Brandon Stone's, Photoblogs.org, which, if I'm not mistaken, provided some of the initial inspiration for Photoblogs Magazine. It's sort of a photoblog clearinghouse, and every photoblog I've ever mentioned on this site can be found through Photoblogs.org, including the Snowsuit Effort, which I recently came across. Previously, I've talked about the difficulties of photographing not just run-down neighborhoods, but also the people that live in them. Taking pictures of homeless men and women is hard to do with sensitivity-minus-exploitation, but Ryan does an excellent job of documenting those who, for a variety of reasons, have found themselves living on the streets of Detroit. Sometimes I'd go into the Phinizy Swamp around midnight and wait for the devil to appear, hoping to make a deal with him. Okay, not really. I like my soul and, besides, despite Charlie Daniel's words to the contrary, it's well known that most of Satan's deal-making takes place on the backroads of Mississippi, not Georgia. Still, the shot below illustrates just how dark it can be in the swamp even at noon. Kill your television!
There's a lot of great swamps around Augusta in addition to the Phinizy. There's the Hell Hole Swamp in South Carolina, nestled in the Francis Marion National Forest, near Charleston. It's said that the swamp was named by British soldiers during the Revolutionary War who, after watching General Francis Marion ("The Swamp Fox") and his troops disappear into the darkness, were obliged to go in after him. At some point in the search one redcoat reportedly exclaimed, "That's a hell of a hole!" And Hell Hole it was. They never found Marion and his men. Later, the Hell Hole was the stomping ground of serious bootleggers, who riddled the swamp with stills and rough dirt roads.
Near Harleyville, SC, between Columbia and Charleston, there's the Four Hole Swamp. I don't know much about Four Hole Swamp, but the ol' Swamp Fox, General Francis Marion, hid out there for awhile, using the position to make quick raids on British troops. He wasn't called The Swamp Fox for nuthin'. Four Hole is located within the Francis Biedler National Forest, and near the Congaree National Park, another great swamp. (It used to be Congaree Swamp National Monument, but only a crazy person would go to a swamp for vacation, so they changed the name and the tourists have come running.) The Congaree NP contains some of the largest trees on the east coast, including the SC record bald cypress. That's Taxodium distichum, the tree with the large buttress at the base. I spent a HUGE amount of time in the Congaree measuring trees and, as a reward one hot and miserable day, actually went looking for this record tree, which is in an area that's not easy to access. We eventually found the mammoth cypress, near some nearly-as-mammoth neighbors. Probably the better part of 1,000 years-old, they were really something to see. The biggest bald cypress in the Southeast, I believe, is a 1,400 year-old bruiser in North Carolina. I'd love to say I had a photo of these trees, but, again, no. I didn't bring a camera with me to the Congaree Swamp. I had enough to carry already and, besides, have you ever tried to photograph a 131' tall tree with a 26' circumference? So, you'll have to content yourself with another picture of this shack. Although this was a very inspirational shack. It was one of the first places I shot in Augusta because I REALLY wanted to get a record of its existence.
When they first started to cut down cypress trees, they quickly discovered that the trees sank, making them kinda tough to move through water. So, the trees had to be killed with a girdle, then left standing for at least 6 months so they'd dry out and float. By the early 1900's, most large cypress trees in the Southeast were gone. The Swamp Fox himself had said, "I look at the venerable trees around me and know that I must not dishonor them." But I think by "dishonor" he meant not shooting more redcoats. Of course, there are downsides to slogging through swamps.