The story behind the photograph 'Avenue of the Oaks, Savannah'

The old South has a number of tree-lined paths referred to as "Avenue of the Oaks." I've visited a few of them, but the most remarkable one I've seen, due to its sheer length and unbelievable beauty, is the one in Savannah. Savannah's Avenue of the Oaks is actually the driveway to the site of the ruined colonial-era Wormsloe plantation house and fort.

All that remains of the original 1745 fortress/residence are a few broken walls made of tabby (oyster shell) cement. The heavily forested grounds, which are now maintained and operated as a historic site by the State of Georgia, also include the original family burial site, dating back to the time of the site's founders, and a modern museum. A private area adjacent to the park still holds a residence for descendants of the original founders.

 



But the picturesque, oak-lined driveway — planted in the 1890s — is the star of this show and is itself worthy of a visit.

Spanning 1.5 miles and lined by an overhanging corridor of 400 massive, moss-draped oak trees, the road seems to go on forever when you're slowly rolling along the rutted lane. On the day I visited Wormsloe, the weather was miserable — cool and very rainy. However, the gloomy weather is responsible for the fact that the photo works so well. Because of the rain, the details are rich and dark, but the lighting is even and soft. I've seen many photos of the lane with harsh sunlight and shadows. That kind of light creates harsh contrasts that are less than ideal for a landscape photograph. The image benefited from the lucky grace of Mother Nature.

Photographed in late 2011, "Avenue of the Oaks, Savannah" has remained one of my most consistently popular images.

See the rest of my Savannah photographs here.

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