The Cumberland Island Workshop 2022
Located off the coast of St. Marys, Georgia is the barrier island, Cumberland Island. Cumberland Island is approximately 16 miles long and at the widest point, it is 3 miles wide.
image courtesy of the Parks Service
Since 1972, the island has been a National Park known for its beautiful scenery, the ruins of a famous mansion, and for a herd of feral horses that roam the island. The stories of how and when the horses came to be on Cumberland vary depending on who you ask, but there are reports of horses on Cumberland as early as the 1500s. Today it is estimated by the parks department that the herd numbers between 150-200. This is the only herd on the Atlantic that is not managed, meaning they receive no food, water, or veterinary care. The horses are classified as feral, meaning they were once domesticated, many generations ago, but are now wild.
For a photographer, Cumberland offers beautiful opportunities to shoot nearly everywhere you look… just as long as you don’t mind a bit of a walk. During the course of a day, you will easily walk 5 to 7 miles. I have been going to Cumberland Island since the 1980s, but this year is the first time I have taken a group.
The workshop was a 3-day format.
On Day One, we went very early in the AM to Boneyard Beach on Little Talbot Island to catch the sunrise. Boneyard Beach is a 3-mile stretch of beach located on Little Talbot Island and is famous for all of the trees that end up on the beach that look like the bones of some large animal. This is an excellent spot for both color and infrared photography and makes for some great long exposure images. After that, we went to Fort Clinch. Fort Clinch is a military Fort located at the entrance to Cumberland sound that was built in 1847. Along with the expansive views from the top of the walls of the fort, the interior of the fort makes for some excellent long exposures of the internal rooms and tunnels.
On Day Two, we spent the entire day on image post-production. We went step by step through the process going from RAW file to finished image.
Day Three was the day to go to Cumberland Island. Unless you are someone who really likes to swim, you will need to take a ferry boat to the Island. From almost the minute we set foot on the island, we saw horses everywhere. We walked through a small forest to the ruins of the mansion called Dungeness. Dungeness was built by Thomas Carnegie and his wife Lucy In 1884. The Carnegie Dungeness burned down in the 1950s. All that stands today are the stone ruins of what was once a stately mansion. We wandered around the ruins of Dungeness where a large number of horses had come to keep the lawns trimmed. We then sat on the grounds of the mansion and enjoyed a light lunch while watching the horses have their lunch. During lunch, we had the opportunity to hand feed a wild deer I met last year while on the island.
From there, we went to an ancient cemetery and then took the boardwalk to the other side of the island to the beach. Nearly everywhere we went there was another great shot opportunity.
On the way back, we stopped at the duck pond and got a chance to photograph the horses getting a cool drink and even one horse that decided to lay down and play in the water.
Finally, as we waited for the ferry to return and pick us up, we got to see two juvenile manatees swimming by the dock.
Of all the times I’ve visited Cumberland island, this was probably the most perfect day I’ve had there! I wanted to show the group how amazing the island is and the island did not disappoint.
Now, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t shown you any images from these two great locations.
I saved the best for last. Rather than show you the images I made, I want to show you what a few of the people attending the workshop made.