FRIDAY OCTOBER 28
Eight photographer arrived at the Mainstay Hotel on Friday at 5:00pm for the start of a three day photography workshop with Bob Bergeron and Ronald Wilson. The Art of Landscape Photography presentation covered the aesthetics of seeing and the technical aspects of photography.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 29
We met at 6:15 in the lobby ready to begin the morning field session. Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge is a 242 acre rocky peninsula in Middletown. After a 10 minute walk from the parking lot we arrived at Island Rocks along the Flint Point loop trail. The sky was quickly brightening to a warm intensity. Floating above the horizon was a group of small cumulous clouds creating a rhythm that moved from right to left. The rocks that moments earlier were nothing more than silhouettes were now catching the light that revealed their texture and form.
Purgatory Chasm is a glacial cleft 10′ wide 50′ deep with sweeping views of Second Beach. The chasm is crossed by a footbridge that gives a view into it’s depth. Here we gathered for a group photo.
It was time for coffee and carbs. We refueled at the Hungry Monkey before returning to the classroom at the Mainstay Hotel to review the efforts from the morning field session.
Watson Farm is a Historic New England property consisting of 265 acres of fields, pastures, woodlands and a 1796 farmhouse. Resident manager, Don Minto , graciously invited us to wander the property. Stepping back from the coast and back in time, the mood of this site was further enhanced by the overcast sky with a decided feel of November. It was not difficult to imagine ourselves back in the 1800’s as each of us sort images in the dry stone walls edged with hosta , shrubs still flowering , a barn filled with memorabilia and a 1951 Chevrolet.
Brenton Point State Park, where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic, is a windswept coastline of large flat rocks, a landscape that doesn’t lack for drama. We found shelter in a small cove at Kings Beach.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 30
At 6:25 on Sunday morning the temperature was a very comfortable 59 degrees and the wind had settled down considerably from the evening before. We arrived at Beavertail Point State Park, site of the first lighthouse in Rhode Island, in the pre dawn. The unrelenting pounding of waves over the rocky headland created a dramatic contrast between the weight and mass of the rocks and the constant motion of water crashing around them.
Fort Wetherill State Park, a former coastal defense battery and training camp, features 100′ high rocky bluffs overlooking sheltered coves and cobble stone beaches. This area is a major site for scuba diving and on this morning divers outnumbered photographers.
Our final stop was the graffiti covered walls of the barracks at Fort Wetherill. A very graphic display of layer upon layer of color, using words and images, that lives somewhere between vandalism and art. This was definitely a departure from the usual subject matter but all the elements – line, color, shape, texture and pattern – were still present and applicable.
We returned to the classroom at The Mainstay Hotel where everyone went to work selecting images for a group review and critique. This is a most valuable part of the workshop experience where we see what others saw and learned from the experience, mindful of what Thoreau said ” The question is not what you look at but what you see.”