Since she was a little girl, Steffie has played team sports. We have always gone to see her play when we could, whether it was basketball, lacrosse, or field hockey. Yesterday was field hockey in Newport, RI – 2 1/2 hours away. The day was beautiful, so we decided to go.
Oh, did I mention Steffie said it would be OK for me to bring my camera?
We have recently found that I-95 is awful on Saturday’s. The traffic is bad until you approach the split between I-95 and I-395 where it gets worse. I’m hoping this is summer oriented traffic and will abate when the warm weather crowd decides to stay home.
Newport is off the beaten path as far as the Interstate Highway System is concerned. We took I-95 to Rhode Island exit 3 and then got on a two lane road – seemingly forever.
Actually, the fact that it was a two lane road through a rural area wasn’t the problem. It was the speed limit that got me. Most of the way the limit was posted at 40 mph or less.
C’mon, I do 40 mph in my driveway!
Being on an island, the last part of the trip took us over two spectacular bridges (note to Rhode Island – EZ-Pass would be nice) with views of sailboat – filled bays.
I have been to Newport a few times, and was never impressed. What was wrong with me? This is a great destination. It is beautiful in so many ways, from the seaside views to the mansions to the walkable streets with shops and restaurants. More on that later.
Helaine had printed out directions from Steffie’s school’s website. It, unfortunately, referenced businesses that might have changed names or gone out of business. Basically, we went on a wild goose chase through Newport in search of St. George’s School.
Finally, in desperation, I called the school. The person who answered, quickly offered up that she was from Massachusetts. Luckily, after another few minutes of driving around I found a landmark she knew! It didn’t take long to get to the school.
It’s tough to believe there’s another school like St. George’s. On 200 acres in Newport, it has sweeping ocean views. The land alone must be worth hundreds of millions of dollars! The campus is dominated by a large Gothic chapel. There are numerous, well kept fields for field hockey, soccer and football.
Steffie’s team was there for pre-season field hockey scrimmages. Over the course of the afternoon, her team played three games – winning none. Still, it was just practice and Steffie played really well.
She had been a defensive player, but has now moved into an offensive position, basically covering the entire field. I have no idea how she and the others played three games. This is a physical game. Don’t think, because these are girls playing, that it’s any less aggressive.
I brought my Canon Digital Rebel and both lenses with me. It was an opportunity to try out a feature this camera has – continuous focus for sports – and the 70-300 mm zoom lens.
I am happy with how the camera and lenses worked in nearly every way. My long zoom lens is as ‘powerful’ as the lenses the pros use, but it is not as ‘fast.’ It needs much more light to produce similar pictures, and that forces me to either shoot with a slower shutter, wider aperture, faster film equivalent speed, or not take the picture at all.
There was so much bright light in Newport, it didn’t make a difference.
Looking back, most of the pictures were sharp and clear. The sports mode gave me shutter settings that were very fast, mostly taking shots faster than 1/1000 of a second. That meant stopping the action without blur.
I have read reports of this Sigma 70-300 mm lens not being particularly sharp. Maybe for the most critical of applications that’s true. It looks pretty sharp to me.
One of the cool parts of taking pictures at St. George’s are the amazing views. Many of the shots show the beach in the background. If you didn’t know any better you might think this was Malibu, not Rhode Island.
After the third game we decided to head into downtown Newport for dinner. I found a place to park ($10 – “You can park it yourself, I don’t take my test for another two weeks.”) and we began to walk around.
I was hungry, and no one objected, so we ducked into Christie’s, located on the docks. The wait was 15 minutes, so Helaine and Steffie went to a store, while I went out on the dock to take some shots.
It wasn’t long before we were seated, outside on the deck. We didn’t know it when we picked Christie’s, but our view was to the west and we were about to see a remarkable sunset.
Helaine and Steffie shared lobster bisque and I had chowder. Very good. My dinner was fried clams. Helaine had scallops. Steffie didn’t like the stuffing of her stuffed shrimp, but everything else was fine.
As the Sun went down I picked up my camera to take some pictures. I could see, in front of me, some people with a point and shoot camera trying to get a portrait taken. It wasn’t going to work – so I offered to take the shot and email it to them. That opened the flood gates.
By the time I was done, I had four email addresses in my pocket and had taken pictures of, and with, a bunch of people. It was around this time that our waiter recognized me and offered up that he was originally from Old Saybrook… instantly forcing me to up his tip another 5 %.
We passed on dessert at Christie’s and headed to Ben and Jerry near where we were parked. The day had gone on a very long time. I was getting tired.
We headed back toward Connecticut, following directions Helaine had downloaded from the net. I got us to I-95 where she took over and finished the trip.
I think we were all surprised at how much we like Newport. We will definitely be back.
Blogger’s note: There is a photo gallery with more pictures from our day in Newport here. Each picture on this page is also clickable for a larger view.