While I frequently experience emotional renewal when I visit the beach, this post is not about that. Instead, last Saturday I attended the all day Photo Beach Bash at Rehoboth Beach, DE, sponsored by the Coastal Camera Club of that area, and I came away feeling a renewed sense of excitement about my photography. The conference was held at a boardwalk hotel so I couldn’t, of course, avoid walking the beach in the morning before the conference began. It was the aftermath of Friday’s storm system that had brought snow, sleet and rain to the east. There were lingering winds, and waves smashing the beach. As you will read below I revisited this scene after the conference.
The conference featured four noted speakers from the art: Karen Messick spoke on Impressionism in Photography; Tony Sweet on Compelling Composition; Corey Hilz on Creative Vision; and Parish Kohanim as keynoter. I was mesmerized by Ms. Messick. Her emphasis was on impressionism and her work was beautiful. Her theme was that we should work on creating compelling images. Suggested techniques included people moving in the scene, swipes and pans, multiple image blending, and others. Had she placed only one image on the screen I could have left feeling happy and fulfilled. It was a photograph of some wildflowers along an Interstate Highway. The wind, however, was blowing them about and it proved hard to capture a static image. So, she slowed her shutter speed and let the wind have its way. Here is the result:
Copyright Karen L. Messick. Used by permission.
Ms. Messick was asked about her mentor or other inspiration. Her first answer is one with which I agreed: Tony Sweet, indeed, the next speaker. This is my third time hearing Tony Sweet and to look at his work as he discusses it, and it has always been exciting. Tony is a low-keyed enthusiasm generator whose work and commentary are both wonderful. A quote: “We are making images, not just taking them.” His earlier careers: a jazz drummer and a professional magician; life’s rhythms and the magic are now in his photographs. Some key phrases from my notes: get low for drama, isolate and simplify, create separation to emphasize the primary subject, work your subject, frame within a frame, move around the scene. ______________________________
Mr. Kohanim spoke last for the day but had been headlined as the keynoter. Old fashioned idea; keynoters are first. Not this time and it was the right thing to do. His work and his commentary were inspiring. I had never heard of him (mutual, I’m sure) but he is a high-end fashion, product, and portrait photographer whose work we’ll see in Vogue and similar upscale magazines. A typical scene: a beautiful nude is lying supine on a large white sphere. Another: a Cirque du Soleil acrobat is poised vertically above that sphere (the lady had moved away), supporting himself vertically on his index finger. (But only briefly. He was captured with a 1/5000 second strobe as he vaulted across the sphere, touching it briefly in flight. Kohanim’s presentation included video of this and other setups of his work.) Another: a beautiful lady in a flowing white gown, standing on the surface of a swimming pool. (Or at least on the surface of a submerged Plexiglas box, the water around her feet stirred up by assistants for the shutter snap. I must tell you in case you haven’t noticed on this blog: I don’t shoot much like any of these. But it was such fun and so impressive to see his creativity at work.
More than that, however, were examples of his philosophy: As photographers we seek to see the unseen. We seek to transform the mundane into the extraordinary. We offer an expanded awareness of the beauty in the world around us. Forget what everybody else is doing; consistently reinvent yourself; and Be Magnificent Today. I felt as though I were receiving a half-time pump-up from the coach, and I was ready to go out and win the game. I could have cheered when he finished.
As I sat listening to Messick and Sweet I was thinking that I wished I had heard them before I went on the beach to shoot early Saturday morning. So, Sunday morning I was back on the beach. The ocean was rather calm as the storm had moved away Saturday. Nevertheless I studied the outfall line and tried to think of some different way to capture it. My final choice was a 1 second exposure at f/8, ISO 400. Here’s the result:
Well, there it is Karen and Tony. I like it and I’ll try some other things next year.
Finally, a lot of Karen’s work is of flowers (and it’s a serious understatement to just refer to those images that way). Anyhow, that moved me to go through the setup process to stage and photograph this abutilon in my sun room jungle. I made a three shot HDR with my 100mm macro, f/22 and 1± second, ISO 400, in natural light, and post-processed in CS6. Looking at it in retrospect I should have used a smaller f stop and thus blurred the background. Oh well.
On occasion I’ll attach a flower to an email to a friend, kind of a flowers-by-internet thing. So, this goes to Karen (and Tony and Parish) in thanks for the inspiration.