Thursday 6 September brought some nice weather, just perfect for our 10:15 ride on a biology lab work boat to Appledore Island where we explored until 1:45 breaking only to devour a boxed lunch. Now owed by the Star Island Corporation, Appledore is leased to Cornell and UNH for the Shoals Marine Laboratory. In the grand resort era the island was home to the famed Appledore Hotel which sadly burned in 1914 leaving only Star Island’s lodging for vacationers. It was Celia Thaxter’s father who started the hotel, but Celia’s presence and love of the area helped bring it fame and renown as the spot for writers, artists and musicians including Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Childe Hassam whose impressionist paintings on the island are universally loved.
My affinity for rocking chairs has been nurtured on the porch here, and I rocked from 2:30 to 3:30 chatting with our instructor. I have been frustrated with my images here and also with my lack of knowledge of all aspects of my camera, but as Arnie, our instructor, reiterates, “95% of what you want to do can be done in automatic.” But it’s the other 5% plus that I need to learn. Finally I realized that I cannot absorb my camera books in their entirety, and that is why he does not teach the camera’s levels of menu selections. Instead photography basics are detailed, and he is so good at it. I finally realized (or rationalized) that I need to focus (no pun intended) on just a few camera manipulations to conquer some difficult light and exposure situations.
At 8 PM we had a traditional island candlelight procession to the chapel. Earlier in the day Ann, our Road Scholar gem of a coordinator, asked a few of us to read island and sea related poems, and I selected W. H. Auden’s ON THIS ISLAND, and prepared off and on throughout the day – I received a number of compliments later on my presentation. We then enjoyed an ice cream social.
This morning, Friday, we had our last formal class lesson. Throughout the week there has been ample time to explore the island through our lenses putting into practice what we had learned. Preparing for a critique session has been our goal selecting 10-12 images to first discuss with Arnie and then share with the class for discussion. But as I said, I have been disappointed with my work, and frustrated with learning my cameras, BUT, thoroughly pleased with the class sessions and the comprehendible presentations Arnie made. So, after lunch I retreated to one of the stone buildings with my laptop, class notes and cameras to review my notes, and then review my images hoping to figure out what I needed to do before my one on one with Arnie Saturday morning. I indexed what was key to me including the overview he gave us Friday morning on adjustments that can be made with Photoshop, which sadly I never taken the time previously to explore. After about two hours I began reviewing my images many of which were experiments with camera settings on both my Canon S95 and my Nikon D3100. I was getting happier with what I had taken, and there were a few that I liked except for the exposures and colors. I thought, “let me try what I learned I could do with Photoshop.” So after another hour of playing with a couple images in Photoshop I was pleased with my “class portfolio” of ten items. It was time with my attention span (I have to walk away from a project to think about it and solidify what I learned) to stop, so I pushed back my chair and WOW, there was an image with light on a bench I wanted to play with.
I have interspersed on this post images you have not seen before that I will discuss with Arnie and the class tomorrow afternoon. Saturday night we will have another great history lecture by Ann, who happens to have made a longtime study of the Isles of Shoals – both she and Arnie are credits to the program. Sunday is open time before our return to Portsmouth late afternoon.
My next report will be from Maine in a few days, unless I surprise you on Saturday or Sunday. Thanks for spending more time with me, I find it hard to hold my words back, this has been great for me, and there is so much to share, but never enough time. Bye, as always, RAY