Smith Island Photography Workshop: June 19-21

  For the sixth Smith Island Photography Workshop of 2018, I had six photographers from Maryland and Delaware out on the island. The photographers all brought with them varying skill levels, but were all interested in becoming more well rounded shooters, learning more about the Chesapeake Bay and experiencing the island's way-of-life . 

The group arrived to the island on Tuesday and was greeted with hot and humid conditions which spurred an afternoon thunderstorm. We were on the water prior to the arrival of the storm shooting reflections of workboats and crab shanties in Ewell's channel. As the clouds developed and moved towards us, we ran the boat back to the basin. The conditions changed within a  matter of minutes - from no wind to 40mph and horizontal rain. As we watched the violent winds turn calm water into angry water from the deck of the Bed and Breakfast, we all took a minute to appreciate the weather on the Chesapeake Bay. The remainder of the evening was spent shooting around Ewell. Wednesday morning's weather was dramatically different than the previous evening - clear skies, cool temperatures and a light western breeze.

After a 4:00 am wake up call and coffee, we were on the water by 4:45 am heading out into Tangier Sound with the Island's watermen. Our first stop was to photograph hard crab potters working near the channel edge. After shooting silhouettes of the potters, we headed northwest into shallow water to find the crab scrapers. We found three scrapers working in an area known as 'The Barn' - each of the students had an opportunity to get onboard one of the workboats as the waterman pulled in the scrape and culled through the crabs. After shooting photographs of the two crabbing gear types, we headed to one of the island's Brown Pelican nesting colonies to take advantage of the last of the soft morning light. We photographed the pelicans and as the light came up, we meandered through the marsh creeks back to Ewell. The late morning and early afternoon was spent reviewing photographs, having a crab feast at a waterman's shanty and exploring Tylerton. With the same weather pattern as the previous day, we stayed off the water for the evening shoot after seeing lightning to the southwest of the island. The evening was spent in Rhodes Point shooting an abandoned house and a dilapidated workboat melting into the marsh. 

Thursday morning, the final morning of the trip, was spent on the water. With evening storms, we took advantage of the clear skies in the morning and the best light of the day. The dreaded 4:00 am wake up call came early on the longest day of the year. As we navigated through the narrow channels into Tangier Sound, the sky came to life with beautiful dawn light. The first stop was at one of the Brown Pelican colonies that we had photographed the previous day. We focused on shooting the pelicans against the bright backlit sky to capture silhouettes of the birds. As the sun came up, we left the colony to shoot Solomons Lump Light in Kedges Strait. On the way up to Kedges, we found a peeler potter working and photographed his workboat with the light in the background. After photographing the workboat, we ran towards the light for shots of the uniquely shaped beacon. As the morning progressed and the light became harsh, we headed back through the 'Back Cove Guts' to Ewell to finish out the workshop. The students spent the remainder of the day reviewing/critiquing photographs, and preparing for the 4pm departure.