I shy away from photography workshops in general. I know for a fact from many past experiences that photography workshops, usually set up with the idea of giving photobugs an opportunity to shoot some interesting thing/place/situation/whatever, actually provide an opportunity to take lots of pictures of a whole row of photographers' butts as they jockey for the best spots right in front of the subject. All photographers' butts look exactly alike, regardless of age or gender. They take that Official Photographer Stance, bent over the tripod, and it's like a sea of endlessly repeating generic buttocks. Not being a big fan of repetitive patterns in my work, I usually skip the workshop scene.
This was different: it was after hours, it was at night, it was the Bruce Munro exhibit. Therefore, I thought I would be different, too. It would not be the usual Festival of Idiocy that is my life. I would take Great Pictures. It would be Swell.
The weather was beautiful, I was not late, I did not forget anything (like my camera), all seemed to be going great. Then I arrived, and that was when it all started to fall apart.
The idea of the workshop was that we would get to see and shoot the exhibit after dark, after all the people had gone home. And the people had all gone home. But it was not dark. It was not getting dark.
Last week was the Summer Solstice, a.k.a. the Longest Day of the Year. When it doesn't get dark until Really Really Late. So, we went to shoot the light exhibit, in the dark, on one of the seven lightest days of the year. Excellent planning on somebody's part.
Then, right at the beginning, horrors, my holga broke. It just stopped - taking - pictures. Since the Holga is a camera (well, allegedly), this presented a problem. But HA! I had brought two holgas! Because I couldn't remember what @##$@# kind of film I had loaded into either camera, so I brought them both. So for a moment it seemed that I was saved, God did not hate me, there was hope - and light- somewhere in my future! What a geek!
Allow me to explain. Bringing a Holga to a photography workshop is like showing up on the Autobahn riding a Big Wheel. And then making revving noises with your mouth. One of the four instructors for the workshop (they were all excellent, but shall remain unnamed so I hopefully don't piss them off) looked at Helga the Holga and said "what the hell is that?" Photography workshops are great places to stand around and compare equipment and talk about how long your lenses are. If you know what I mean.
In case I'm not being explicit enough, I'm saying photography workshops almost always devolve into big-penis contests.
Longwood is big. It allowed me to discover, as our intrepid group trouped about the grounds, that my tripod was really heavy. I looked around, as I was gasping for breath, and noticed that everybody else's tripod was about a third the diameter of mine. I decided I have the hurricane-strength tripod. Next storm we get, I'm going to put the tripod out and see which survives the hurricane better: the tripod or my house. Hey, I may carry a Holga in my holster, but my tripod is massive hardcore Triple X.
It got dark! Which was great! Woo-hoo! Except I couldn't see the controls on my cameras! Luckily, I brought a flashlight. The little flat kind, not too bright, perfect for not screwing up everybody else's night shots at a photography workshop. Like I said, I did not forget anything for this workshop! Not me!
There was no way to use it and work the camera settings at the same time. This is the kind of flashlight you have to press, on both sides, to make it light up. I could have put it in my mouth, leaving my hands free to work the camera. I could have. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I don't want to die. And I really don't want to end up on "1000 Ways to Die." I had visions of putting this thing in my mouth and going "ZZZZTTTTTTT" as I electrocuted myself with a tiny flashlight at the Longwood Gardens night photography workshop. Consider the earlier discussion about penis contests and let your mind wander. The irony is too ripe. I just don't want my obituary to read like that.
All told, I actually had a great time and got some really nice mediocre shots, which is what I went to do. They say you either have a good time or a good story, but I got lucky and had both.
There's another workshop in August, if you want to go. Don't forget your tripod!