Learning to Use My Camera

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.


This picture symbolizes the past week for me. Murk, decay, a little clarity, and a few bright spots…

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.


Virginia House. It has one of the dining halls, as well as reception, a library, gift shop, ball room, and guest rooms.

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.


Tucker Hall, where my group dined, has folks streaming in for a meal. They ring a bell to call people in.

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.


This tempting hammock was right outside my cottage.

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.


This may be my favorite shot of the weekend, an old storage shed.

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.


The light was lovely to play with, here the paths of a labyrinth.

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.


Here, I had to try more than once to catch the light on the leaves and grass…

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.


Looking up the mountain at the turning trees.


One of two or three locked doors at Shrinemont: it leads to the bell tower, and no doubt keeps venturesome children from ringing the bell at all hours.

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41 Responses to Learning to Use My Camera

  1. Lisa – how lovely! I was just a bout to turn off the pc for the day when you tumbled into my inbox…..
    I’m so glad to hear you had both retreat and a workshop in one – my goodness I could do with a retreat right now too! This place sounds rather appealing to me too – what gorgeousness to treat yourself to. I especially love old stone buildings and spacious grounds and you have captured both so nicely in some of your photos. I too really like the shot of the old shed the light is beautifully caught. Though I always think you take good photos, so I’m expecting to see nothing but masterpieces from now on 🙂 I hope you have returned home with renewed vim and vigour and a ‘we will survive’ mojo showing up somewhere. I’ve been keeping you in my thoughts of late, and hope these recent events haven’t thrown you too much. xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  2. arlingwoman says:

    Oh, the election is a horror show, though I have been able to glean a few good things from it. Still, there is so much damage that can be done. Our founding fathers did not trust the electorate and so they developed the Electoral College, which most of the time jibes with the popular vote, but this time, as with 2000, it didn’t. I’m feeling quite low, but hope to recover in the next few weeks. The workshop was at the end of October, so I’m reporting a bit late. In any event it’s always so nice to hear from you. I hope spring/summer is going well in NZ. Thanks for your compliments on my pic’s!


  3. Sounds like a most re-creative experience, Lisa. I find the first photo especially striking…like a wonderful abstract painting…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have been thinking lately that i am in need of a retreat. Much as I love the farm sometimes I would love to go somewhere quiet and have some time to think. this place looks amazing the buildings are amazing – now you really will have fun with your camera.. c

    Liked by 2 people

    • arlingwoman says:

      I think when you need a retreat, you should seek one out. It can be short or long, but they are always refreshing. Sometimes it’s extraction from daily business that we need. Shrinemont is pretty amazing. I’ll be going back, no doubt with the camera in hand!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Bun Karyudo says:

    It sounds like the workshop was well worth doing. Incidentally, the Shrinemont area looks wonderfully relaxing. It seems to be one of those places where pointing a camera in just about any direction can lead to an interesting photograph.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sylvie G says:

    I would probably need one workshop like this. Your photos are great (I particularly like the blue doors) and the caption for the first one says it all.


  7. KerryCan says:

    Yay–a retreat and a chance to immerse yourself in something you love! You know how much I believe in the value of this sort of experience and it looks like you absorbed a lot of new information–the photos are wonderful to see. Are you feeling fully confident with your camera now? Were you at the workshop during the week? Did it distract you from the chaos of politics?


    • arlingwoman says:

      The workshop was at the end of October, so Comey’s election interference occurred while I was there followed by another week of campaigning. I do feel more confident with the camera now and just need practice. It was really good to learn something and then go do it!


  8. Pauljoe says:

    Lovely photos. I, too, love the barn doors photo especially. The colors and textures are marvelous. So much of the fall season in all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jennypellett says:

    What a wonderful place to help get the creative juices flowing! I love your murk, decay and clarity picture, it looks like abstract art. I think it would look lovely framed up and you could call it just that – murk decay and clarity – it’s genius!
    I have done creative writing workshops and find them inspiring so I can understand how you feel about your camera now – you just want to get going, I bet. I shall look forward to seeing some of your work. Good luck and keep going! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. A retreat for you too!! And how I enjoyed your photos!! Keep them coming!! Xo Johanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. LB says:

    Hello Lisa, I am trying to rise up out of my devastation over the election by distracting myself on WP.
    It has been almost 40 years since I have seen Orkney Springs, but I remembered Virginia House as soon as I looked at your photo. In fact, I remember flirting with a handsome trumpet player on that front porch. 🙂
    I’m so glad you had such a wonderful retreat and that you learned your camera. I should look up your retreat leader. Your first photo and the photo of the storage shed are both great. Shrinemont looks likes such a neat place.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Lisa, your photos are spectacular. What a great retreat, and wonderful workshop and a beautiful time away. I need to do something like this: find a class or workshop that will teach me all the power behind my camera.

    I think the storage shed may be my favorite photo, too. I love those stone buildings and that wooden structure. What a terrific place to get away.


  13. Laurie Graves says:

    I think many of us could use a retreat right now. Perhaps for the next four years. On a brighter note…what a lovely place and what beautiful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Karen says:

    What a nice time you must have had…learning more about your new camera in such pretty surroundings.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lavinia Ross says:

    The buildings and grounds are beautiful there. A wonderful series of photos! That looks like a great place to experiment with a new camera. And I do like the colorful, abstract nature of your first photo.


  16. Robin says:

    This looks and sounds like a wonderful outing. Your photos are wonderful. I especially like the first one. I need to learn more about my camera. I’m sure it can do more than I know how to do..

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great photos – the workshop seems to have been a success. Interesting venue too.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. starkwe says:

    Such a beautiful place! I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it. Isn’t it fun to play with a new camera? Mine has gone wonky, so I’m learning to use my husband’s Canon that he has used only once.


  19. Boomdeeadda says:

    There is no end to the beauty in Virginia and you’ve always captured it so well. This place looks fantastic. So many interesting facades surrounded by natures bounty, what a gift. It sounds like the retreat was a big success. I’m impressed that you just drive on up there by yourself and no doubt mingled the britches off of other patrons/guests. I don’t know that I could. You’re a force. 😀 xo k

    Liked by 1 person

  20. the old barn doors photos is a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

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