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Vintage Industrial Photography Workshop
Lonaconing Silk Mill, Lonaconing, MD

April 20-21, 2013


Mary Louise Ravese 
Bella Vista Photography 
571 594 2390 


Saturday April 20, 2013 at 9:30 AM EDT
Sunday April 21, 2013 at 3:00 PM EDT

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Comfort Inn and Suites 
1216 National Highway
La Vale, MD 21502

Driving Directions 

Class Size

Class size 7-10 participants


About the Instructor


Mary Louise Ravese specializes in fine art nature and travel photography from locations across the world. Her photographs are in private, university & corporate collections in over 30 states and are exhibited nationally. She has published images in calendars, magazines, books and websites. Mary Louise is a regular speaker and competition judge for photography clubs. She also enjoys teaching on a wide range of topics related to nature, travel and creative photography. Based in Virginia, Mary Louise leads classes and workshops at a variety of locations across the US and abroad.  

This 2 day workshop at the Lonaconing Silk Mill is a must do if you love to photograph vintage industrial subjects. It was nominated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Opened in 1907, it closed in 1957 after workers went on strike. Today, it is considered the last intact silk mill remaining in the US. Machinery, company records and workers' personal effects have been left unchanged from 1957. Filled with tons of character, textures, and subject matter that is hard to come by, photographing here is a real treat. The mill is not open to the public, and photographing here is only possible with a group by arrangement with the owner.  Your tuition to this workshop includes a $150 admission fee for a 4 hour indoor photo session each day.  This fee helps the owner to pay for maintenance of the site while he pursues trying to sell the property to someone interested in it's historical preservation.

View this video from the National Geographic Channel to get an overview of the site. Of course it emphasizes the need to try to photograph the mill soon, before antique pickers buy up some of the most interesting pieces.

This location is appropriate for practicing many photography techniques.  In the workshop Mary Louise will teach two approaches that are very well suited to this location:

  • High Dynamic Range (HDR ) Photography Technique
  • Digital Black & White Conversion

HDR is a fundamental technique that all intermediate photographers should know to be able to achieve better photographs in situations where there is a broad scene brightness range eg. interior spaces with windows, mid-day photographs outdoors, canyons, night scenes with artificial lights, etc. In this workshop we'll cover how to shoot for HDR and how to process the images on the computer to enable you to have pictures that more accurately show the detail in highlights and shadows that we see with our eyes, but can't capture with a single image due to the technical limitations of digital camera sensors.  For wide angle shots of the machinery and the building's windows, this technique is really a must.

Not all pictures look good in black & white.  A good black & white image typically needs a good use of line, interesting textural details and tonal range variety. The contents of the Lonaconing Silk Mill have an abundance of these characteristics, making it a great place to consider shooting with the intent of converting to a black & white final image.  Mary Louise will discuss what to look for in a black & white composition and explain the computer software for making the conversion in post-processing.

Workshop participants will meet at 9:30 am on Saturday at the Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel in La Vale, MD for an orientation session and briefing on how to shoot for HDR.  We'll then head over to the mill, stopping for a quick lunch along the way.  We'll meet the owner of the mill and, guided by Mary Louise, students will have 4 hours to photograph on the three levels of the building.  After the shoot, we'll return to the hotel to have a working session on HDR and B&W conversion processing. 

As time permits, on Saturday night participants will have the opportunity to share a selection of their images from the day in a supportive image feedback session with Mary Louise. Students can learn from hearing her comments about each person's images and have the benefit of putting that insight to use in the next day's photo shoot.

The next morning we return to photograph at the mill for another 4 hour session, this time in morning light.  Since there is so much potential at this site, a second day enables the participants to photograph at a comfortable pace and capture the variety of photographs that are possible here from wide angle overviews, to vignettes and detail shots as well as explore with different lenses.  After the shoot, we'll try to get lunch as a group and debrief. The workshop ends after lunch at roughly 3 pm.

With it's emphasis on hands-on photography, this workshop offers you a great opportunity to practice photography in a relatively small group setting. Mary Louise will be close at hand to offer you guidance and answer your questions.

The workshop is suitable for intermediate photographers, who understand when and how to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings, and are comfortable shooting in Aperture Priority mode.  To get the most from the class, Digital SLR cameras and tripods are recommended.

Participants meet on site. Directions and suggested equipment list will be furnished after registration.

Don't let the lack of equipment stand in your way.
Want a wide angle lens or a tripod for the workshop?
Take advantage of this special offer:
Use Coupon Code BellaVista at checkout and save 10% on your equipment rental of 4 days or more from





Tuition includes entrance fees to Lonaconing Silk Mill on both Saturday and Sunday, but does not include meals and lodging.  We recommend you stay at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Le Vale, MD. The hotel will be the workshop's home base where orientation and classroom sessions will be held.

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