I live in Chapel Hill (part of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle metroplex) which is in the center of North Carolina (NC). Central NC is a very high quality-of-life, pleasant place to live. It's subtly pretty, with all of the greenery and towering pine trees. However, Central NC is not known as an aspirational landscape photography location (no snarky comments, please, it just isn't). My landscape photography takes me at least a couple of hundred miles away (the Appalachian Mountains), and usually much further. Most of my recent trips have been to Canada, or to the USA parts north or west.
Yet, there IS a hidden gem of a photography location in Central NC, one that I'm willing to bet of which most people in the Triangle are not aware. It is the 60,000 acre Sandhills Game Land nature preserve outside of Southern Pines, about an hour from the Triangle. Sandhills Game Land is a unique environment of small hills, sandy ground, grasses, ferns, and pines. I have been aware of the area for a while, and decided to check it out in October of 2017. I spent one full night doing astrophotography, and one full day doing daylight landscape photography, driving around on and hiking the many dirt and two-track roads that bisect the area. Brady Beck, currently the Southern Piedmont Management biologist for the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, kindly met with me to provide some guidance on the roads and on which areas might be most productive for photography.
I took about 60 compositions in two days of shooting. Below are the first three that I have processed. I'll try to get the rest up on my website before the end of 2018.
It was enjoyable. Not spectacular, but enjoyable. Pretty in its own way. And,....close to home. Shhh....don't tell anyone....