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The Art of the Slate Workshop

Posted: 16th January 2010


Location: 2 slate quarries near Bethlehem, PA
Date/Time: March 22, 2014 10:00 AM - 2:30 PM
Cost: $115/ea.

The Site: In this workshop, participants will visit two of the slate company properties nestled beneath the Blue Mountain in the Slate Belt of Pennsylvania. The first site is a quarry dating back to 1875. Known as "American Bangor" it produced slate that was compared to the esteemed slate of Bangor, Wales, UK, and produced what some called the best slate in the region. It operated intermittently until 1914 when it was shut down for a period of decades, then revived twice, having run as recently as a decade ago. Today, as the quarry is again held in reserve, awaiting its next call to duty. Visitors will be able to explore a trio of hoist houses and walk paths lined with trucks, excavators, and other machinery slowly being engulfed in foliage.

The second stop of the day will be the "landing," mills, and back lot of a working quarry. Being a Saturday, the machinery will be quiet and the areas safe to shoot. The "landing" is where slate blocks weighing 5 tons touch down after an aerial cableway lifts them from the seemingly bottomless pit (currently 350 feet below the surface, which is deeper than can be seen from the "landing"). The mills are where the slate is sawed and split into tiles, stair treads, blackboards, and roofing slates. Known as a place where "trucks go to die," the property features a collection of vehicles that are either in use, providing parts, or being retained for their historic character. There are even a couple of movie stars - a Mack B model and a derelict forklift were used as props in the movie Transformers II when it filmed in Bethlehem, PA, in 2008.

From landscapes to macro, from grey slate, to red trucks, all amidst spring colors, this workshop will offer an enthralling look at the natural and mechanical artistry that was, and still is, the slate industry. Please note participants will be able to explore both properties but will not be able to enter the quarry pits due to safety concerns.

The Workshop: During the workshop I will be on hand to help you get better shots - these environments can be pretty tough to navigate photographically and I encourage you to come with questions. You will have five hours to explore the factory as you wish - there will be a tour and a photography demo lesson, but you are not required to attend them. I know some of you are just taking the tour to see the location, and if that's the case I'll stay out of your way and let you do your thing. Learning to use a tripod, what file format to shoot in, how to compose shots better, what ISO, F-Stop, and shutter speed affect, and how to do things like exposure bracketing are very important to your results. Don't feel afraid to ask me even questions that may seem silly to you. I want you to leave with pictures you're proud of. I've been doing this for a while and want you to learn from my mistakes and successes.

Safety: You need to be very aware of your safety. I encourage you to always pay attention to your surroundings. A site manager will be on hand and following their directions is critical. If you do not you may be asked to leave the site. You will be asked to sign a waiver before you enter acknowledging that you are entering a potentially unsafe environment and that you will not hold either the owners or myself liable for any harm that may befall you or your equipment. Obviously the first priority on the trip, even before taking great pictures, is making sure that you are safe - but you will need to be the one looking out for that.

What to bring:
- a bottle of water
- sturdy boots that protect your feet
- your tripod
- a fully charged cell phone
- your camera manual if you're unsure how to change settings. I can help you find the information you need in the manual but most cameras have their own ways of accessing features and changing settings and that makes things a lot easier.
- It's not necessary but a remote shutter switch is a nice thing to have and you can get a cheap one on Amazon for about $6 depending on your camera.

Refunds: Because of the extremely limited tour spots there are NO REFUNDS if you have signed up for the tour except in case of workshop cancellation. You may give a paid spot in the workshop to someone else if you are unable to attend but admission may not be transferred to another event. All sales are final.

Any questions? Send me a note at admin@abandonedamerica.org - if the PayPal link is immediately below this there are still open spots.

WORKSHOP ENDED. There are no plans for future dates.

By signing up you agree to the following terms: Please make sure you check the email associated with your Paypal account for confirmation/updates! Your Paypal receipt is your confirmation, an email will follow with further details no less than a week prior to the event. You will need to sign a waiver to participate in this event, a sample of which can be found here. By signing up for this workshop you agree not to use information attained before or during the workshop to illegally trespass or set up alternate workshops/events. Because of the extremely limited tour spots there are NO REFUNDS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES if you have signed up for the tour except in case of workshop cancellation. You may give a paid spot in the workshop to someone else if you are unable to attend but admission may not be transferred to another event. There is a possibility that the workshop may need to be moved to a different date based on the site manager's limitations. If this is the case notification will be given immediately and a refund will be offered if attendee is unable to make the alternate date. All sales are final.

Any questions? Send me a note at admin@abandonedamerica.org - if the PayPal link is immediately below this there are still open spots.























Workshop description text by Mike Piersa.


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