Welcome to My Photography Blog

Though my home is West Virginia, with its abundance of natural beauty, I tend to see the world in a universal way. I don't see the lines that might separate me from the rest of the world. I just see the world...and, I see it as art.

My greatest pleasure is sharing my art with others! Hopefully, this blog will tell you a little bit more about me and my life as it relates to my work. I appreciate you stopping by and hope you find something here that will enlighten you and maybe even inspire you to get out and see for yourself!

Discovering Edisto Island

September 30, 2015  •  1 Comment

3V9A0842Sunrise EdistoMorning greets Edisto Island, South Carolina. Last winter one of my clients saw some of my Florida images and after a discussion about the best beach destinations, he told me about a place that he and his family had been coming for years, Edisto Island, South Carolina. Honestly, I had never heard of it. Then he asked if I would be interested in going there to photograph it for his family? It didn’t take long for me to answer that question, even though I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to find there. But, my adventurous landscape photographer heart kind of knew it must be pretty good or he wouldn’t care to have it photographed. I mean a beach is a beach...right. Not.

Edisto Island is a lot like my beloved Greenbrier River in that much of it is as it’s been since the beginning of time. Thousands of protected acres at Botany Bay Plantation, private communities that have great respect for nature and wildlife and a throwback small beach town with no hotels and few restaurants. This is a place where you can really get away from it all. And, did I mention it’s incredibly beautiful.

ShellingShellingShelling on Edisto Island.

I guess those who come here regularly must have their blood pressure drop just thinking about it. Driving in on highway 174 through the low country slows you down before you even get here, as you drive by mom and pop businesses, vegetable stands and art galleries. No big box stores or Walmarts out here, just the essentials, and you really don’t need much to live the good life on Edisto.

Take a look at these images from my trip and if you are looking for a place to get away from it all, you may have found it. I know for sure that I will be back.

3V9A1166Low CountryThe South Carolina Low Country is part of the Edisto Island experience.

from Wikipedia-

Edisto Island is one of South Carolina's Sea Islands, the larger part of which lies in Charleston County, with its southern tip in Colleton County. The town of Edisto Beach is in Colleton County, while the Charleston County part of the island is unincorporated.

The island, town, and Edisto River are named after the historic Edisto people, a Native American subtribe of the Cusabo Indians, who inhabited the island as well as nearby mainland areas.

Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area is a state preserve on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Botany Bay Plantation was formed in the 1930s from the merger of the Colonial-era Sea Cloud Plantation and Bleak Hall Plantation. In 1977, it was bequeathed to the state as a wildlife preserve; it was opened to the public in 2008.

The preserve includes a number of registered historic sites, including two listed in the National Register of Historic Places: a set of three surviving 1840s outbuildings from Bleak Hall Plantation, and the prehistoric Fig Island shell rings.

DSC01877Botany BayBirds fly over Botany Bay on Edisto Island.

Botany Bay Plantation WMA includes a variety of habitats: 2,500 acres (1,000 ha) of marine and estuarine wetlands, including 2 miles (3 km) of beachfront used for nesting by endangered loggerhead sea turtles and least terns; 1,847 acres (747 ha) of upland, consisting chiefly of mixed pine-hardwood forest; and 283 acres (115 ha) of agricultural fields, managed for dove hunting and as food plots for wildlife.[16] A set of dikes creates freshwater and brackish ponds.[11]

Saving A Sea Turtle

September 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

3V9A1185First Light of DayA baby loggerhead sea turtle is held by conservation volunteer Libba Johnson, after saving him from his abandoned nest.

As many of you know sea turtles are on the endangered species list and are declining in population. Conservation efforts are actively being pursued all along our coastal waters, but more needs to be done. I don’t have the answer to the problem, but I have experienced the miracle of a mother laying her eggs on several occasions in our home away from home, Vero Beach, Florida. It is a very exciting thing to see a giant loggerhead or leatherback turtle come out of the water under the cover of darkness, dig a nest and lay her eggs, before returning to the sea, never to come back and check on her young. Lynn and I have witnessed this on several occasions but never had we seen baby turtles emerging from the nests.

During my recent shoot on Edisto Island in South Carolina, I finally got to see and even hold a baby loggerhead sea turtle. What a thrill!

SP&Turtle_CSP&Turtle_CWhat a magical experience, holding a baby sea turtle, before he's released to the sea...


I was headed out for the evening to photograph a large population of birds on the north end of the Jeremy Kay development where I was staying, when my passage was blocked by some folks in a golf cart. I waited patiently for them to clear the way, and when we finally came together on the trail and passed they asked if I was there to see the turtles? So, I abandoned my quest to chase the birds down and went with them to see the turtle nest.

The gestation period for sea turtles varies with temperature, from approximately 53-68 days, depending on the location of the nest and the heat of the sand. Temperature also determines the sex of the turtles, with hotter sand producing more females.

Most areas with heavy turtle activity have conservation groups of volunteers who monitor the turtles nesting and hatching activities. In any given area, they know the approximate time it takes the eggs to hatch, and they check each nest daily to make sure the nest hasn’t been disturbed and to note when there is an opening in the nest, indicating that the eggs have hatched and the turtles have gone back to the ocean. Three days after the turtles have left a nest, they go back to dig it up, so they can count the eggs and save any stragglers, which can apparently live three days in the sand without a problem. That is what I was able to witness on that magical evening in Edisto. If you have a love of nature and miracles, I hope you too get to witness this in person one day!

3V9A1174Volunteers DigVolunteers on Edisto Island in South Carolina prepare to dig up a loggerhead turtle nest in search of survivors.

According to WorldWildlife.org

“Human activities have tipped the scales against the survival of these ancient mariners. Nearly all species of sea turtle are classified as Endangered. Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells, sea turtles suffer from poaching and exploitation. They also face habitat destruction and accidental capture in fishing gear. Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites. It alters sand temperatures, which then affects the sex of hatchlings. “

Saving A Sea TurtleA baby loggerhead sea turtle is saved from an already hatched nest, to be released to the ocean by conservation volunteers on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

We watched the baby loggerhead go back to the ocean totally on instinct, and after being tossed in the surf several times to land back on the beach, he finally disappeared for good. A wonderful end to an exciting and miraculous event! 

3V9A1193Baby LoggerheadThe baby loggerhead goes back to the ocean after being saved from the abandoned nest.



Seeing To Relax

August 10, 2015

WindowSunrise_SMorning sunrise on a fogged up hotel window in Charlotte, NC. Samsung Galaxy S6. © Steve Payne 2015

Photography is one of the most engaging and creative pursuits the average person can do. There was a time not too very long ago when photography took a much greater commitment to really enjoy on a deeper level. Since the days of needing a darkroom and tons of equipment are gone forever, photography is pursued by people from all walks of life.


Now that one can edit directly on their phone or tablet, as well as laptops and desktop computers everyone has a darkroom or should I say lightroom, and it can be a terrific way to get away from it all without going anywhere. You can see something interesting almost anywhere, even at the dinner table (shame on me) and investigate these findings with your phone or other digital camera to see things in a way you have never seen them before.

FireBrewA fire pit lights up a wine glass full of beer at a dinner party. I couldn't resist capturing it. Galaxy S6 © Steve Payne 2015

The cameras in recent smartphones are incredibly capable devices. There are limitations. Aren’t there always limitations? The trick is to understand the limitations and work within them. But, camera capabilities are not the point of this post.

The point is to find another world to investigate, if even for a short time. To get lost in what you see and take away some of the stress this world provides in all too ample amounts. Hopefully, not only seeing with your eyes but also with your heart. It’s been said that all the answers we need are found in nature and I totally agree with that statement. It is certainly a healing place for me. Beautiful sights can be right in front of you at any moment inside or out, so keep your “eyes” open. You never know what you might find in some time spent viewing the world through a slightly different perspective. Maybe just a little relaxation, and maybe more than you imagined. At any rate, don’t wait to have the “perfect camera”, or the perfect day, just keep your eyes open and take a look around. You never know what you might find!


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Transforming Spaces With Photography

May 27, 2015


DSC01274Intimate Autumn GrandviewA classic autumn scene at Grandview State Park in West Virginia.

Do you want to change your decor without breaking the bank? New art on your walls can change things instantly and easily. Photography is such an amazing medium! It can take a mundane space and make it come alive! And, while many people struggle with understanding some art forms, most all of us can relate to and truly enjoy photography. It can seemingly add windows to a stark hallway or take us away to wide open spaces or peaceful retreats.

MC_ReceptionMC_ReceptionThe reception area at McKinley-Carter Wealth Management features photography by Steve Payne. It is one of many office installations that we have done over the years

Photography Is Versatile

Photography is also one of the most versatile art forms. It can printed in custom sizes on a variety of surfaces, from paper to canvas, metal, and more. Add custom framing options and the possibilities are endless. And, with all these choices available, we’re usually able to fit any budget.

But, how do you know what it’s going to look like on your walls? I routinely go to clients homes and offices with my samples and ideas to solve these kinds of problems. I have always felt that the only sure way to select art for a space is to be in the space and visualize it in person. I will be happy to do this for you too, even if you are not ready to make a commitment to purchase. It’s the only way to have the information that you need to compare one solution to the next.

When I come to meet with you I will bring image samples, frame samples and even framed pieces to make the visualization super easy. I love helping people transform spaces from dull to spectacular with photographic art. So, don’t hesitate to call and set up a consultation in your home or office. Contact me today. I look forward to helping you transform your space! 304-546-7254 or email me here.

SKPano01_CSpruce Knob PanoramicA view from the top of Spruce Knob, West Virginia's highest peak by Steve Payne.

Looking Inside The Waves

May 04, 2015

About this time last year I was in Florida for a week long shooting trip. My goal was to chase the clouds over the un-manicured jungle-like landscape of Pelican Island and the Sebastian Inlet near Vero Beach. How successful was I? Not very, at least as the cloud part goes. I did get one of my favorite cloud photos ever on that first morning, but then rainy overcast skies ruled the day for the rest of the week. And, overcast skies are a long way from the billowy cumulus clouds that I love.

Pelican_06Pelican_06The one and only cloud shot from my week of shooting where the original goal was to shoot clouds all week. This one from The Jungle Trail on Pelican Island near Vero Beach, FL..


So, where did that leave me? I was honestly kind of stuck as I stood on the somewhat gloomy overcast beach above the Sebastian inlet that second morning. The weather report wasn’t good for the rest of the week and I needed a new idea. As I stood there staring, something told me to look “inside” the waves. Though the sky was overcast, there was still some direction to the light which made it subtlety turn the breaking waves translucent if you looked very closely and “inside” the waves. Why not give the waves a shot, I’ve been shooting water all my life, and why I hadn’t done this before is a mystery to even me.

"By the end of the week, I could tell you what a wave looked like just by listening to it!"

I started to get lost inside the waves as they broke on the shore and began noticing the timing of the peaks of water. The tension and release of energy as the wave comes over the top and releases into the shore. That tension just before the wave totally releases fascinated me and that’s what I ended up focusing on for most of the rest of the week. By the end of the week, I could tell you what a wave looked like just by listening to it!

Wave_02TCEFXWave_02TCEFXOne of the waves I captured during my week of shooting near Vero Beach. The tension created just before the wave totally releases was the focus of my attention here.


I tell you this story to not only let you know how I think when I go out to shoot, but to illustrate that sometimes you have to let things come to you, not  just chase preconceived ideas. Many beginning photographers and amateur photographers, in general, want so badly to make a great image, that the image becomes the goal instead of the result of an experience. I can tell you after photographing all these years, that images from an experience are always better than the images we force because that’s what we were after. So, let your photography be about experiences that just happen to produce great images, by not forcing things to meet your beginning idea, but letting your mind open to new approaches and let them come to you!

Wave_17CrescendoA beautiful wave breaking near The Sebastian Inlet in Florida by Steve Payne.



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