I threw caution to the wind and went on the springtime photo workshop last week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was conducted by Bill Fortney and Jim Begley of His Light Workshops. Not only are these two men extraordinary professional photographers, they are also incredible gentlemen. It was an honor and total delight to finally meet and learn from them.
I had several goals for the trip:
- Begin to learn how to travel solo, without Mr. Jim
- Seek fellowship with other photographers
- Learn how to use my new Fuji XT-1 mirrorless camera
- Discover tips and tricks to improve my photography
With a broken heart, broken foot, and rusty skills from lack of practice over the past two years, I decided that it would be okay if I didn’t take any decent photographs. (The pressure is off you if forgive yourself up front.) And, sure enough, I was not very satisfied with my images from the first full shooting day. But I discovered some photo mojo on the second and third shooting days. For the first time ever, I shot streams and waterfalls with a slow exposure, obtaining that magical silky smooth look to moving water. And, the images turned out pretty decent.
Porters Creek, Greenbriar area
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Bill and Jim were very courteous in their critiques of everybody’s photographic work during the classroom portions of the workshop. I was thrilled to get some positive feedback and happy to get a few tips to make my images better in the future. I laughed when Bill saw one of my waterfall shots and said that he was ready to break his foot to get a shot like that. He was much too kind.
I successfully met my trip goals, finding tender grace with a group of very exceptional people. I laughed, learned, and cried. I stayed pretty close to the cars and certainly didn’t do any of my usual wandering. I was mindful of where and how I placed my feet. I comfortably wore hiking boots in the field and the big orthopedic boot during classroom sessions. Several participants (now friends) decided to go the extra mile and look after my safety and comfort. They walked the talk of their religious convictions. The entire experience was one giant blessing.
Let me give you an example. Several participants decided that I needed to walk up to the top portion of a spectacular waterfall so that I could “get the shot.” I kept declining, but I could see their insistence about helping me. I relented. One took care of my tripod and camera, and two people, one on either side, took my arms and help me get up and back down an approximately 30-foot trail filled with tree roots and rocks. Hey, I got the shot! These folks sacrificed their shooting time to do something incredibly kind for me. It was a tender moment that I will never forget.
I know that many of you worried about me and prayed that I would have a safe and joyful trip. Your prayers were answered.
I can’t wait to take the next His Light Workshop – Nashville Celebrations in July!