I said last time that I’d let you know how the digital photography workshop went. It was at Shrinemont, which is in Orkney Springs Virginia. Regula Franz has been running these workshops, spring and fall, for 8 years. She teaches in Richmond and travels extensively.
I would never have known about the workshop if I hadn’t been thinking I could use a retreat, and Shrinemont is the retreat center for the Episcopal Church in Virginia. Originally, it was a spa where people went to take the spring waters. Virginia House, which may be the largest wooden structure in Virginia, was built in the early 1800’s. Other buildings on the grounds date to before the Civil War. It was a place where people built “cottages” they could escape to in the hot summers.
It has miles of hiking trails, a pond, canoes, and family style meals. During our stay, there were a number of churches on retreat and a number of groups like ours. You are assigned a cottage and a dining hall and in your dining hall, there are little signs on the tables for groups to gather. It’s hearty country food and they set platters of it on the tables. When a group empties them, they bring more.
The Episcopal Church has had a long relationship with the hotel and spa, and they bought it in the 1970’s. At that point, they modernized and remodeled Virginia House and have been updating the cottages as well. Basically, the road into Orkney Springs ends in a loop on the hotel grounds, which are backed up to a mountain. Hike over the mountain and you’re in West Virginia. The hotel has slowly been buying up private houses that remain in the grounds as they become available and turning them into guest accommodations.
If you read the blog regularly, you’ll remember I bought a new camera in the spring. Unlike my fantasies, it was not like an SLR film camera and it had so many settings that I had neither the time nor the patience to figure it out. So, in search of a retreat, I saw Regi’s workshop and made a decision to go. It was a very good decision.
Regi was familiar with almost all of the cameras her pupils brought to class and could tell us how to set them, gave us checklists and lectures on the settings we were unfamiliar with, and then sent us out into the Shrinemont grounds to use our newfound knowledge.
I can’t tell you how great it is to learn something and put it right into practice. And Shrinemont is a photographic treasure trove. There are mountains, woods, old buildings, flowers, and water to look at.
Once I got all the settings right on the camera, I fell back into a rhythm of fixing the aperture and speed, adjusting to the light, and generally reveling in capturing something I saw. We came back from our ventures out and loaded our photographs onto our laptops so we could share them. Ultimately, we selected our best and donated them to Shrinemont for use in brochures and advertising. It was time well spent, and I feel as though I can start using that new camera now…I will try to publish some more of the photos in the coming weeks.