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.

————————————————_MG_0553 - 2 ————————————————— 

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.

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: _MG_0570 600

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.

_MG_0621_HDR 640


10 Responses to “RENEWAL AT THE BEACH”

  1. Bonnie Says:

    Everything you have said here is so true. The waves were amazing, the speakers were wonderful and the entire day was very inspiring. Thank you for the tip on Bombay Hook. We stopped there on our way home and it was beautiful.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Bonnie, it was a fun day even though you girls didn’t offer to share your room. Seriously, I enjoyed having breakfast with the four of you, and our sometime discussion of the ethical issues in our work.

  2. larryalyons Says:


    What an inspirational conference to attend. I love the quote you shared:

    “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.”

    Your images are achieving that result.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Thanks Larry. I thought it was almost profound. You would have enjoyed it. In re my images achieving that result, I thank you but I think we’re all trying to do that and we’re all achieving it to some degree. If we were at it day after day as the program artists I’m sure our work would reflect it.

  3. Ken Curtis Says:

    You made the conference sound very interesting. Wish I had know about it and had chosen to go.

  4. denisebushphoto Says:

    Great to hear you got a lot out of the day. Thank you for repeating some of the quotes and philosophies which have in turn inspired me. That Coastal Club is a really strong club. I presented my ‘Slow It Down – Long Exposure Techniques’ for them this month.

    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      It was a profound day for me. Anyone who carefully looked and listened should have come away excited. Since then I find myself looking at scenes and trying to figure out a more interesting capture. No oil wells yet, though.

  5. Ken Sichel Says:

    Thanks,Ralph for sharing your experience at the Beach Bash. I also enjoyed the day and am looking forward to the next Beach Bash.


    • Ralph Berglund Says:

      Good to have seen you there, Ken. The first time I heard Sweet was at Kutztown a number of years ago and I remember saying to Mike Riddle that we needed to hear someone like him once in awhile to get our juices flowing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.