“Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like.”
-David Alan Harvey

New Year’s Eve 2018 and New Year’s Day 2019 were special for me for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I got to spend quality time with my husband, Randy.  Secondly, I had somewhat of a personal breakthrough with my photography both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

During my winter break, I saw that there was a holiday lights event before Christmas at Brookgreen Gardens,  located in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.  By the time I attempted to purchase tickets for the event, all of the evenings that I could have attended were

sold out.  One day, I checked their website again.  The website indicated there was a New Year’s Eve Stroll Under the Lights that still had tickets available.  We quickly purchased tickets for this event.

Since the garden is more than four hours from our home and the event took place in the evening, we decided to stay in Murrells Inlet rather than trying to make the trip without an overnight stay.

We found a condo to rent that was right on the beach.  When I say right on the beach, I mean RIGHT on the beach.  When the tide was high, I could almost look directly down from my patio into the oncoming surf.  While I don’t always do a lot of preplanning for my photography, I asked Randy if we could plan our day so that I could be at the condo in the afternoon during high tide.  I wanted to see what I could capture looking down on the water.  I photographed during the afternoon for about an hour before it was time to get ready for our time at the gardens.

The garden event was from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.  Although it took us a great deal of time to move from the entrance of the garden to our parking spot (more than a half an hour), by the time we entered the garden, that wait was completely forgotten and so well worth it.  I have visited Brookgreen Gardens in the past, but never during the evening.

As we walked into the garden, we saw that the entire garden had been transformed into a magical land of lights.

Hand-lit Candles

Most of the garden was draped in elegant, white lights.

Oak in White

Our time in the garden was a magical way to say goodbye to 2018.  I could not have thought of any better, more peaceful, romantic, or festive way to end the year.

So now, I want to share what it was that I felt was a personal breakthrough with my photography.  Since I have been photographing seriously, I have spent countless hours trying to capture how I feel when viewing the ocean.  I have, since childhood, been so mesmerized with the ocean.

All previous attempts to capture what I was seeing and feeling about the ocean fell short…until this trip.

While I was on my balcony New Year’s Eve, during that period of high tide, I began to try different things.  The light was interesting as it was a somewhat foggy day.  As I looked at what I saw below and before me, I wanted to capture the ethereal quality of what I was experiencing.  I explored what using different apertures and shutter speeds would do to help me convey what I felt about the scene before me.  After some time, I remembered a variable neutral density filter that I had in my camera bag.  I like this filter because I can see through my viewfinder while using it in order to compose and I can vary the effect of the filter very easily while using it.

Using this filter and some more tweaking with changing the shutter speed, I was able to come away with an image that seemed to capture what I was experiencing at that moment.  I was elated!

New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Day gave me a bit more time to explore.  I was again, so pleased to come away with an image that seemed to capture how I felt while enjoying the magnificent ocean view.

Incoming Waves

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to create these two images.  I know that each of the countless thousands of ocean images I have created in the past ten years has helped me to finally come away with something that represents what I see when I look at the ocean.

I am so grateful for all of the experiences and images in 2018 and cannot wait to see what I can see and learn in 2019.  I am forever thankful for my husband, Randy, who although he doesn’t fully understand why I do what I do,  he supports me in all ways possible.

May 2019 bring you love, peace, health, happiness, learning,…and photography:)!  Happy New Year!



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Mary Presson Roberts
Mary Presson Roberts

I am a travel and fine art photographer living and working in the Carolinas. My camera has taken me to places I never would have experienced and to people I never would have met. Photography has truly changed my life! Using my blog, I hope to share the joys of both travel and photography.

Comments (6)

  1. Avatar

    Sure do enjoy reading about your adventures Mary. My wife, like your husband, doesn’t understand but fully supports me also. How lucky can we be? Happy New year !

    1. Mary Presson Roberts

      We are lucky, indeed, Dan! Many thanks and Happy New Year!

  2. Avatar

    Wonderful images, Mary. Thanks so much for sharing them plus your thoughts and emotions. It’s quite inspiring to read. Happy New Year!

    1. Mary Presson Roberts

      Thank you, kindly, Karen! I hope our paths cross again in 2019!

  3. Avatar

    Love your adventures! Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year to you and Randy! 🎉🎉🎉

    1. Mary Presson Roberts

      Thanks, so much, Frances! Happy New Year to you and your family!

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