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Outdoor Photography At Its Best

Program Number: 2479RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/20/2013 - 10/25/2013; 10/18/2015 - 10/23/2015; 10/25/2015 - 10/30/2015; 4/10/2016 - 4/15/2016;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Pickens, South Carolina
Price starting at: $636.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Photography; Walking/Hiking
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian    

Elevate your photography skills to a new level on the historic sites, nature trails and wildlife areas of Pickens County. Refine existing techniques and learn new ones with photography experts and put your knowledge to work in a variety of settings. At each site, learn about the history and ecology of the area and share what you capture with other photography buffs.


• Shoot pictures of the unfinished Stumphouse Tunnel and hear tales of those who toiled on the project until a lack of funds and the outbreak of the Civil War postponed it indefinitely.
• From a boat on Lake Jocasee, photograph one of the most scenic lakes in the country, the mountains that frame it and the waterfalls that pour into it.
• Photograph Table Rock State Park from Caesars Head State Natural Area, where a 3,266-foot elevation also provides views of other distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Activity Particulars

Hiking up to two miles on uneven surfaces.

Program skill level varies by date. Please see date specific information for details. Participants on advanced date(s) must bring a DSLR camera.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

10-18-2015, 4-10-2016

This date is intended for beginner and intermediate photographers.


Participants on this date must have a DSLR camera. This date is for experienced photographers and expects familiarity with photography and your equipment. Includes classes on HDR, panoramic shots and photo stitching as well as MACRO/Close focus photography.

Coordinated by Clemson University.


Founded in 1868 by Scottish-Irish settlers and traders who lived among the native Cherokee, Pickens today is a friendly, small town at the foothills of the Appalachians where residents and visitors enjoy abundant hiking trails, gorgeous vistas and mountain lakes.

Beautiful learning institute overlooking Table Rock Mountain. Each room has two single beds and private bath. No television sets or phones in rooms.
Meals and Lodgings
   Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
  Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC 5 nights
 Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Type: Conference Center
  Contact info: 698 Concord Church Rd
Pickens, SC 29671 USA
phone: 864-878-1103
  Room amenities: No televisions or telephones in the sleeping rooms. You are free to enjoy television in the common area of the lodging or in the "the den" of the main building. The den features a flat screen television and leather couches and chairs.
  Facility amenities: exercise room and technology lab
  Smoking allowed: No
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 1:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
3:30 p.m. You will be staying at Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC that night.
  End of Program:
1:00 p.m. You will be staying at Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. If you will be utilizing the provided weight room/gym facility, please complete the form included in the preparatory materials prior to arrival.
  Parking availability:
Parking is free
To Start of Program
  Location:  Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC
  Nearest city or town:  Pickens, SC
  Nearest highway: I-85
  Nearest airport:  Greenville, SC
  From End of Program
  Location: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens,SC
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Greenville/Spartanburg airport


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


3/4 of hour 


The Youth Learning Institute provides the shuttle. One of our staff members will meet you in baggage claim with a sign that bears your name. Please contact coordinator at least 4 weeks in advance of your arrival. We need to know your arrival time and airlines. Payment is made on Monday morning. Checks and credit cards accepted. NO Cash. We take you back to the airport at your convenience.

Driving Directions
  Greenville, SC Take Highway 123 towards Clemson University; take the 178 exit (Highway 178) and proceed until the Pickens County Courthouse; At the traffic light, turn left onto Highway 183. The road will reduce to 2 lanes near the Mobil Gas station. Turn right at the traffic light immediately after the Mobil Gas Station onto Shady Grove Road. Turn left onto Concord Church Road. The Youth Learning Institute will be on your left.
Elevation Note: One photographic location is 3,266 above sea level

Equipment Requirements: Digital Camera, tripod and lenses if you have them; laptop computer and software if you have them
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Registration/Move-In, Tour, Dinner, Overview, Presentation
(Sunday, October 20)

Note: All participants will be welcomed and will receive a tour of the facility upon arrival. Dinner and an overview of the week will follow as well as the night presentation of how to become a better photographer.

 Arrive To: Arrive at the Education Center that overlooks Table Rock State Park
 Afternoon: Become familiar with your surroundings and meet each other during this welcoming ceremony.
 Dinner: Enjoy a southern meal by some of the best cooks in the south.
 Evening: We will spend some time getting to know each other and learning about the activities that will occur during the week.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Breakfast, Stumphouse Tunnel, Isaqueena Falls, Cha Ram Park, Lecture, Dinner, Sunset Shoot
(Monday, October 21)

Note: Participants will enjoy a day traveling to Stumphouse Tunnel, Isaqueena Falls and Cha Ram Park for some great shots. After lunch, a lecture on digital photography focused on flowers, sunsets, and waterfalls. The day will be concluded with a sunset shoot on-site.

 Breakfast: A hot southern breakfast will be served
 Morning: Instruction will be provided in basic photography, digital photography and equipment use
 Lunch: A southern lunch will be served before we go out photographing
 Afternoon: The afternoon will be spent using the skills you have learned. We will visit the SC Department of Natural Resources Fish Hatchery and Stumphouse Tunnel. The history of Stumphouse Tunnel is as rich as the surrounding land and carries with it stories of dreams, failure, hardship and opportunities. The dream was to develop a railroad line from Charleston, SC to Cincinnati, Ohio. The Blue Rail Line was completed from Charleston to Pendleton by the 1850's but the granite Stumphouse Mountain presented a major challenge. Fifteen hundred tunnel workers and their families made their home on Stumphouse Mountain in a town called Tunnel Hill. Most of the workers were Irish immigrants who were following their dreams to America. They worked 12 hour days, six days a week using only sledge hammers, hand drills and black powder. Tunnel Hill was a rough town with more saloons than churches. In 1854 Father Jeremiah Joseph O'Connell came to Tunnel Hill. He worked with the railway company to agree to fire anyone that did not remain sober. In 1850, the German Colonization Society of Charleston organized the town of Walhalla, which is about 6 miles to the southeast. Work continued in spite of the numerous problems including an unscrupulous construction company, high operating costs and the inability to secure consistent funding. State funds ran out in 1859. Before more money could be acquired, the War Between the States began. The town of Tunnel Hill faded into history. After the war, SC was in no position to continue with construction thus the tunnel remains unfinished today. It is one of the most visited historical sites in SC.
 Dinner: Dinner will be served in the dinning room
 Evening: After dinner there will be informal discussions and learning
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Breakfast, Lake Jocassee, Lunch at Devils Fork State Park, Travel to Upper Whitewater Falls, Dinner, Close-Up Photography Lecture
(Tuesday, October 22)

Note: Participants will travel to Lake Jocassee for a boat tour and photo shoot. A picnic lunch will be served at Devils Fork State Park followed by a trip to the Upper Whitewater Falls for a photo shoot. After dinner on-site, a lecture on close-up photography.

 Breakfast: A full hot southern breakfast will be featured
 Morning: Enjoy taking pictures aboard our boat on Lake Jocasee. Lake Jocassee is tucked into the shadows of the blue ridge mountains. It is one of the most scenic lakes in the country with a back drop of mountains and several waterfalls that pour into the lake. The valley where the lake is located was once home to four mighty rivers. The Thompson, Whitewater, Horsepature and Toxaway rivers now all feed Lake Jacassee producing a cool and clear reservoir. The lake is surrounded by over 50,000 acres of protected state land. Lake Jocassee has 7,500 acres of water and 75 miles of shoreline. The recorded history of the Jocassee Gorges area dates back to 1539 when Hernando deSoto explored the area. South of what is now Lake Jocassee Dam was once Keowee Village or Keowee Town, the capital of Lower Cherokee Indians. In 1690, James Moore led a British expedition through the area in search of gold. In the late 1700's European settlers began moving to the region. Land grants in the Jocassee area were recorded as far back as 1791. During this era, professional market hunters used the area. Over time, more people moved into the mountains and valleys. Early settlers traveled along the well established network of Cherokee trails and trade routes. In 1916 the Toxawy Dam in NC failed. The flooding down the river removed much of the fertile topsoil and deposited rocks and boulders on family farms. After this, it was difficult to make a living off the land.
 Lunch: We will enjoy lunch at Devil Fork State Park. The park provides outdoor recreation in the Blue Ridge Mountains along the shores of Lake Jocassee.
 Afternoon: Enjoy taking pictures at White Water Falls. This is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. The falls plunge an amazing 411 feet! South Carolina's Lower Whitewater Falls drops another 400 feet. In the cool, moist shade of steep slopes and rock cliffs, wildflowers and salamanders abound. This wild land is also a perfect haven for a rich array of ferns, mosses and fungi. Enjoy the beauty of berries and blooms throughout the seasons
 Dinner: Enjoy a great meal and dinner conversation
 Evening: Time will be spent reviewing the days accomplishments and providing instruction.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Breakfast, SC Botanical Gardens, Hagood Mill, Free Time, Dinner, Review Photos
(Wednesday, October 23)

Note: The day will be started off with breakfast on-site proceeded by a trip to the SC Botanical Gardens on Clemson University's campus for a photo shoot. A picnic will be held at the gardens with a trip back to YLI Headquarters with an option for free time for participants to explore the area or for needed rest and relaxation on-site. After dinner, participants will work one-on-one to review their photographs with the Instructor.

 Breakfast: Enjoy a southern breakfast
 Morning: Enjoy taking pictures at Table Rock State Park. The park provides a towering backdrop for an Upcountry retreat at the edge of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. The 3,083 park includes trails where photographers can wonder.
 Lunch: A bag lunch will be provided and enjoyed at the State Park
 Afternoon: Caesars Head State Natural Area- An excellent location for nature enthusiasts at 3,266 feet above seal level. Caesars Head provides views of Table Rock, Pinnacle Mountain and other distant peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
 Dinner: Enjoy a southern dinner in our dinning room
 Evening: Instruction will be provided. Work will be done in the digital dark room. Informal sharing will be done.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Breakfast, Sunrise Shoot at Caesar's Head State Park and Table Rock State Park, Lunch, Lessons by Instructor, Dinner, View Photos
(Thursday, October 24)

Note: The morning will start off early with a continental breakfast in order to travel to Caesar's Head State Park and Table Rock State Park for a sunrise shoot. Lunch will be served on-site following an optional lesson by the Instructor. Dinner and a final review of participant photos will finish out the day.

 Breakfast: Enjoy a southern breakfast before we go to the Clemson campus.
 Morning: Clemson University will be part of your photographic experience. Some items to photograph will include the South Carolina Botanical Garden, the very famous football stadium known as Death Valley, the Heritage House, the military plaza and Fort Hill/John C. Calhoun House. The SC Botanical Garden is 295 acres which features several thousand varieties of ornamental plants, both native and introduced, niche gardens; natural woodlands and streams, an arboretum and the only nature based sculpture collection of its kind in the nation. The John C. Calhoun House was once home to the Vice President to John Adams and Andrew Jackson. The home later became the home of his son in law, Thomas Green Clemson, founder of Clemson University.
 Lunch: A bag lunch will be provided for our enjoyment at the University.
 Afternoon: Continue to enjoy photographing the beautiful campus of Clemson University
 Dinner: A good old fashion southern BBQ will be featured on your last night. We will go to Hagood Mill for that meal. Hagood Mill is one of the "gems" of the SC Upstate. This 1845 gristmill served many generations of rural farm families until its closing in the mid 1960's. In 1972, Hagood Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1973 the property was donated to the County. Thus began a long off again on again process of restoration culminating with the mill being back in business on a monthly basis around Thanksgiving of 1997. Since that time the mill has operated the third Saturday of every month. These third Saturdays have become mini-festivals of traditional arts, folk life and music. The mill site has grown physically too. In 1997, there was just the mill building. Since that time, the barn was remodeled into a family farm exhibit, a visitor building was constructed, a 3/4 mile nature trail was developed, 2 historic log cabins were relocated to the site, a blacksmith shop was built, a moonshine display was added and a large outdoor stage as well. Recently, a complete cotton ginner operation was donated and brought to the site for restoration. In 2003, perhaps the most exciting development at the site occurred when Native American petroglyphs (rock cravings) were discovered on a large 30 foot long rock near the mill. Archaeologist Tommy Charles said this is "one of the most impressive petroglyph sites discovered in SC. There are 17 human figures plus unbend of abstract motifs carved on the host rock. The human figures represent all but 2 that have been recorded in SC".
 Evening: Photographs will be collected from each participant. The instructor will put together a show featuring those photographs. Each participant will receive a CD of those pictures.
Accommodations: Youth Learning Institute Education Center, Pickens, SC
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Breakfast, Picasa Demonstration, Lunch, Closing Ceremony
(Friday, October 25)
 Breakfast: A hot southern breakfast will be featured
 Morning: We will go to the small town of Pendleton, SC to obtain our final photographs. Pendleton Historic District is list on the National Register of Historic Places and includes 6,316 acres. The district features more than 40 points of interest. The unique features and Southern hospitality make this historic district one of the most visited places in America.
 Lunch: Our closing ceremony will feature lunch in our dinning hall
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Understanding Exposure

Author: Bryan Peterson

Description: With more than 350,000 copies sold, Understanding Exposure has demystified the complex concepts of exposure for countless photographers. Now updated with current technologies, more than one hundred new images, and an all-new chapter, this new edition will inspire you more than ever to free yourself from “auto” and create the pictures you truly want. In his trademark easy-to-understand style, author Bryan Peterson explains the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, including how to achieve successful exposures in seemingly difficult situations. You’ll learn: • Which aperture gives you the greatest contrast and sharpness, and when to use it • Which apertures guarantee the background remains an out-of-focus tone • Which one aperture—when combined with the right lens—creates an area of sharpness from three feet to infinity • How to creatively use shutter speed to either freeze an action or imply motion • Where to take a meter reading when shooting a sunset, snow, or a city at dusk With new information on white balance, flash, HDR, and more, this updated classic will inspire you to stop guessing and take control of your settings for better photos anytime, anywhere, and with any camera.

The Waterfalls of South Carolina

Author: Tim Cook and Ben Brooks

Description: The Waterfalls of South Carolina is an essential exploring companion for every visitor to this state's rugged mountains. Packed with stunning full-color photographs, folksy anecdotes and easy-to-follow directions, it will take you to 27 publicly accessible waterfalls in the South Carolina wilderness. Completely revised for its second edition, the guide now includes new photographs and previously hidden waterfalls even further off the beaten path.

What’s included in this Road Scholar program?

Except for the occasional meal on some programs, Road Scholar programs are all-inclusive. That means there are no extra “options,” no passing the hat for tips and no surprises. From lectures and field trips to gratuities and accommodations – the price you pay up front is the price you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

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