I use going to visit family on the east coast as an excuse to go on photo safaris, or maybe I should say I use photo safaris as an excuse to visit family. Hmm, either way…
I was recently visiting family in Rhode Island in the middle of a very cold, rainy, and windy November. Nights were spent huddled around a pot-bellied stove for warmth (Ooo, nice visual), but during the short days of winter it was time to bundle in layers and explore, find hidden locales, capture them on celluloid, or as more often than not — preserve each location in the digital format.
Just in case you don’t know — Rhode Island is a small state, the smallest. It measures only about 30 by 50 miles in size. There’s ranches in Texas bigger than the entire state. Population is about a million residents. Sounds like a lot until you consider that the population of the City of Los Angeles is five times that much.
Even though it’s a small state, it has a lot to offer. The food (nom-nom) is incredible. Lobstah’ (lobster), littlenecks, quahogs, clam cakes (seafood unlike any other place). Italian food is to die for (lots of Italians there). New York System Wieners (locally known as gaggers, and having nothing to do with New York) are simply the best. Cawfee milk (coffee milk). Cabinets (milkshakes). Dell’s Lemonade. And of course Dunkin’ Donuts is the place. I need to plan a trip back there soon, I’m now craving the food way too much.
Rhode Islanders also have a unique accent. They tend to drop their “R’s” where they’re supposed to be and insert them where they’re not. “Park the car.” becomes “Pak the ka.” “Do the wash.” becomes “Do the warsh.” It’s actually quite interesting to have a conversation with a native Rhode Islander. You take their accents and mix them with the various local dialects (which are many) and half the time you don’t even know what the heck they’re saying. I love it.
The state has a unique culture and history. So much history. Jamestown. Newport. Old-money summer “cottages” of the ultra-wealthy. Opulent, grandiose mansions that belonged to the richest tycoons of days-gone-by. Most of their names you wouldn’t recognize today, but think of the wealth of “Citizen Kane” and you’ll get an idea of the riches they had.
Rhode Island is an absolutely beautiful state to photograph with many scenic places. It’s almost unbelievable how many different areas there are to shoot. Everything from modern cities, to small rural towns, islands, miles and miles of coastline, lighthouses, parks, forests, lakes, secluded waterfalls. I mean come on… How is all this crammed into such a tiny state?
It’s almost like there’s a time-warp, void, space-time continuum, thingamajiggy or something that expands the interior of the state once you cross into its borders. I’m not exaggerating. There’s so much to photograph.
Every day my sistah’ (sister), who has lived in the Ocean State (Rhode Island) her entire life, and I would bundle up in our winter clothes and head out to find an interesting place to shoot. One day we’d brave the cold ocean swells and shoot the pristine empty beaches. Another day we’d hike through a thick forest to an out of the way and little known waterfall, and photograph it as the chill seeped thought our clothes and wind whipped around us. Each day brought us a new adventure.
One day was particularly awful though. A nor’easter was coming in off the Atlantic Ocean and it was nasty. Dark storm clouds, frigid cold temperatures, icy rain, and high winds. What a great combination for a spectacular photograph. With no destination in mind we started driving in the direction of my car’s front grill.
After a while we found ourselves driving across the dam at the Scituate Reservoir (the largest inland body of water in the state). With the weather conditions as they were, I thought this would be a kewl (cool) location to take some pics. I drove to the middle of the dam where there’s a pumping station (or something) with enough parking for one, maybe two cars. The sign said “No Parking.” But I’m an artist, those signs usually don’t apply to me.
I parked. With the wind buffeting the car, my sister decided to stay put and keep her butt toasty on the heated seats. Can’t say I blame her. I grabbed my camera and was just about to open the door when the sky opened up and a hard rain started pelting the car. I had to rethink the situation.
Maybe I should hop out and frame a few shots with my cell phone before I inflict the weather on my professional digital camera. Good idea.
I grabbed my cell, turned the camera app on, and pushed against the wind to open the car door. I was immediately hit by sub-zero temperatures, freezing rain, and a loud clap of thunder that rocked my nerves.
With hands shaking from the cold and eyes stinging from the wind-swept ice crystals, I framed a shot and snapped the shutter. One shot. Just one and I was done.
Yes, I do a lot for my art, but this was a “Nope!” situation. I jumped back into the warm car, turned the heat to full, and drove pell-mell to the nearest Dunkin’s where I ordered a large hot chocolate with extra whip and my sistah’ enjoyed a cuppa’ cawfee.
Lon Casler Bixby is a professional photographer and published author in various genres: Fiction, Poetry, Humor, Photography, & Comic Books.
You can see his writing here — www.amazon.com/author/loncaslerbixby/.