Monday, August 30, 2010

Recent Installations of Fine Art Nature Photography by Jim Crotty

I was fortunate and grateful last week to be able to visit two entirely different installations of fine art prints of my work with nature and landscape photography. One was a very visually appealing display of several 30"x40" gallery wrap canvas prints in a customer's home. The collection of images was selected based on the customer's desire to include all four of the seasons on the Ohio landscape. I also worked with this customer in crafting a uniquely cropped version of "Dogwood in Rain" photograph.

The gallery wrap canvas style print is an excellent choice for display fine art nature photography in an environment where a traditional, behind-the-glass framed print is not required. These prints "lift-off" from the wall, hence the "wrapped around," and work superbly on neutral-colored walls. The price is a bit more than a normal, unframed fine art photographic prints. However, the true advantage is that the pieces arrive wired and ready to be hung on the wall. There is a significant cost savings when compared to costs associated with frame, mat, mounting and glass, not to mention the weight and difficulty in handling on a framed 30"x40" print. I provide additional information about the benefits of the gallery wrap canvas print on one of my YouTube tutorials, at

The other installation of my work with nature and landscape photography was in the newly opened addition to Wooster Community Hospital in Wooster, Ohio. There is currently 66 16"x24" prints installed, representing landscapes that I have photographed in Ohio, Montana, Colorado, Utah and South Carolina. I was very pleased with how the prints looked, particularly with the expert craftsmanship that went into the mounting and framing by a local frame service in Wooster. In a public, high-traffic location, such as a hospital, office or medical center, the traditional approach toward framing (mount, mat, glass, frame) is usually the better choice over the gallery wrap canvas print.

What is even more pleasing to see is how this display of photographic artwork helps enhance an environment that promotes healing and recovery in situations that are usually quite challenging for both patient and family, as well as staff and medical personnel.

For both installations I use a professional print lab service that caters to the fine art photographer. This particular lab has been crafting prints of my photography for over five years now and I could not be more pleased. Their quality and attention to detail is superb. For more information on fine art print installations of my nature and landscape photography, see

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's In Store

Sunset in early October, 2009, at Sugarcreek MetroPark, near Dayton, Ohio. Field of goldenrod in early autumn. Fine art landscape photography by Ohio Photographer Jim Crotty.

Goldenrod and October Sky by Jim Crotty by Jim Crotty
Goldenrod and October Sky by Jim Crotty by Jim Crotty

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Closed Up or Closed Minded ?

Being in the light. The photographer - the artist - senses every subtle change to the light of each season. How it turns. How it changes the landscape. How everything reacts to it. I captured these images and video last week, after an evening run at nearby Sugarcreek MetroPark. I was setting-up my camera and tripod to photograph the closed Queen Anne's Lace (resulting image in the video) when an older couple passed me along the trail. As usual the wife was a few steps ahead. The husband trailing slightly behind with his head toward the ground. The woman looked at me with that usual critical expression I see amongst older, suburbanite midwesterners around here and shot off a "what are you taking pictures of ?" 

"The Queen Anne's Lace."

"Well why do you want take a picture of that - it's all closed-up." 

Well excuse the (insert appropriate obscenity) out of me. I'm so sorry what I'm doing and what I'm photographing doesn't meet with your approval.

That's what I wanted to say.

"Well I really like the pattern and shape, and everything looks really nice in this light right now."

"Oh, well, I guess it does."

I then moved down further into the tall grass prairie while they continued the other way along the walking trail. 

There's so much beauty all around us, every minute of every day. It's in the letting go of the limits and rules we place within our own mind when we can finally, truly open our eyes to all of the possibilities - all the visual treasures - all the signs in the light that guides us to follow the creative spirit that connects what is most important in life.

It wasn't the Queen Anne's Lace that was "closed-up."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Pattern and Texture in Nature through Black and White Photography

The art of black and white photography in effectively capturing texture and form in nature. Pawpaw plant in spring at Sugarcreek MetroPark. The digital conversion to black and white was completed using Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in for Aperture. This is a powerful editing and enhancement tool that allows the photographer to make targeted adjustments - "control points" - within the image, very similar to the dodging and burning that was once completed by hand in the darkroom of years past.

I will be demonstrating, step-by-step, the in-camera capture techniques and the digital post-processing for optimal black and white nature photography during my upcoming workshop at The Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills, set for the weekend of September 24, 2010.

Emerging Pawpaw in black and white by Jim Crotty
Emerging Pawpaw in black and white by Jim Crotty

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August Evening in the Farmer's Garden

As a photographer one of my favorite things to do this time of year is to get out and explore just before sunset. Late summer on the Ohio landscape provides so many wonderful subjects, all of which photograph best in the low light of dusk. These were some of favorite images captured about a 10 days ago along the edges of a farmer's field, next to a church in Waynesville, Ohio.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Dayton Skyline on August 6 2010

Dayton area photographers had an opportunity last Friday to capture the city skyline with many of the buildings keeping the lights on for the LightUp Dayton photography contest, sponsored by the Downtown Dayton Partnership. Unlike last year photographers were blessed with a clear sky. The trick to photographing an illumintated city skyline is all in the timing. Just a hint of dusk still in the sky provides the best background.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fall Photo Workshops

I'm in the early stages of planning a one-day workshop for early November, mostly likely to be presented at Cox Arboretum. The workshop will be divided into two sessions - an AM session on the basics of digital photography for those who are new to DSLR cameras, and an afternoon session on marketing nature photography for those photographers with more experience. Participants will have the option of attending just one or both sessions. If this is a program you would consider attending please call 937-432-6711 or

Also, please consider attending my two-day, destination workshop on nature and landscape photography in Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio, set for the weekend of September 25-26, 2010 at The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls. More information on this program @ Season of the Good Light Photography Workshop.

Friday, August 06, 2010

HDR Photography and Blending Layers

To say that HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography has created a chasm of division and argument amongst nature photographers would be an understatement. It wasn’t too long ago that the most contentious argument was film vs. digital. It didn’t take long to see who won that battle although there are probably more than a few who are now thinking otherwise in light of the recent discovery of the lost Adams’ negatives valued at over $200 million.
It was almost exactly three years ago that I made the jump into HDR waters for my work with landscape and cityscape photography. As with most HDR newbies I went “heavy-handed” with the tone mapping adjustments provided with the Photomatix Pro plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. The effect was so cool and new that I pushed those adjustment sliders all the way to the max. But once the results began to move too far away from what originally captured my creative eye in photographing a scene – particularly with nature and landscape subjects – I readjusted and began to tone the effect back a bit, preferring instead to mix the results with basic curves adjustments. I also learned to nix it all together when I was working in bright daylight and/or a bright sky. But I still loved the rendition of a wide tonal range between dark shadows and bright highlights in “hand of man” foreground subjects such as old buildings, fences and cars, as well as the range of subtle colors in a pre-dawn or post-sunset sky.
However, even with those obvious advantages there are still many photographers who remain adversely opposed to HDR photography – the “purists” who insist that somehow the application of this tool betrays the art and the subject and that it’s just too easy. Only with pain, struggle and positioning oneself for perfect light can one consider him herself a true, professional nature photographer. I admit that knowing your subject and knowing the light, and capturing it right within the camera, should always take precedence, but for the photographic artist to keep his or her mind completely closed to all of the tools at his or her disposal is nothing to brag about. It’s all about what works best to visually communicate the photographer’s approach to light and subject.
The most obvious benefit of HDR is the ability to capture detail in the darkest and lightest areas of the frame. This has always been a challenge in landscape photography. But could there be other digital options besides tone mapping in HDR programs ? Indeed there is, and it’s digital editing technique well worth considering. I came upon the following tutorial video by fellow pro photographer Joseph Rossbach, who really has some very impressive work. In “Manual Blends of Two Exposures for HDR” Joseph shows what can be accomplished by simply blending two exposures – one for sky, the other for foreground – using layers, masks and brushes in Photoshop to put sky and landscape more in balance. Beautiful technique. Beautiful results.
But what if the photographer still wants to include an old structure in the scene, the type of weathered subject that practically calls out to be captured in all of its tonal range beauty using three or more exposures and Photomatix, or similar program ? Or perhaps there is not nearly so much a clean break between sky and foreground ?
Why not do both ? Merge layers using masks and brushes AND use Photomatix for tone mapping, and then combine both enhancements into a single image.