Category Archives: Composition

Just Half the Story | Tell Me More than Camera Settings

Early March at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty
Early March at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty

A photographer can describe a photograph in two ways.

Or a combination of both.

There is the description of the mechanics of the image – the camera and lens used and the camera settings as well as any accessories or filters applied during the exposure. I was reminded of such a description while reading the latest issue of Nature Photographer Magazine. Many beautiful images, and technically sound.

For this image such a description would read as follows – Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF24-70mm f2.8L USM lens. Exposure mode was aperture priority at f/16. Focal length was 27mm. ISO 50. Evaluative metering mode. Wait a minute, something I’m forgetting . . . oh yeah, shutter speed was one second. Oh, and I used a Giottos carbon fiber tripod, Kirk BH-1 ballhead and Kirk L-bracket. And a Canon RS-80N3 remote switch. And I was wearing my Vasque St. Elias GTX hiking boots too, which are pretty awesome by the way. Location was Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. Date was March 6 2016. Capture time as 1:15:26 PM.

Still there? Good.

Bear with me.

There are many who prefer such a description below an image, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being more technically concerned with such information. But for me it is too defining, too closed-in, to withholding of the full potential of a photograph as both art of expression and extension of the photographer.

Truth be told it doesn’t take much to duplicate the image using just the technical information and the location.

But I always desire to go further, out beyond the mechanics of merely recording a second in time at a particular location. I want to see and contemplate how and why the presentation of moment and setting resounded in the photographer’s mind and heart to stop and record light in how it was being FELT, by first making use of his or her knowledge and experience of both equipment and exposure, and then letting go of preconceived expectations of what a particular audience wants to see and allow the vision and personality of the soul take priority.

That’s what an audience craves, whether they realize it or not.

It takes a bit more effort, and courage. There a comes a time when the growth of a photographer when he or she MUST place him or herself in every image and not just demonstrate technical proficiency. I think that’s exactly how I would describe the difference between beginning/amateur and experienced pro. There’s nothing to prove anymore other than the artist’s desire and joy in free expression unhindered by a lack of basic technical skill and experience (which I admit is necessary).

Unfortunately it feels as if everything in today’s world of instant entertainment and shallow appearances works against the full nurturing and crafting of artistic vision, and I fear so much of what truly makes an excellent image stand-out and tell a story is getting lost among all the noise.

Art is our treasure, a treasure that transcends time, for in art we see both the soul of the artist and a reflection of our own divine nature that strives to reach the uncommon and higher road.

Here’s how I prefer to describe the image posted here with this article –

Early March in Hocking Hills, Ohio, along the trail to Cedar Falls. A longer time exposure to convey the movement of water flowing from the first signs of winter’s release and a wider focal length to compose both foreground and background so that I could communicate both source and flow. This is a reawakening of life in the woods and the first signs of movement toward change in seasons, in both the landscape and within me personally. It was a challenging winter and a soon-to-be even more challenging spring. Changes had to come for new, vibrant growth to take place. I desired to part of that flow, to something greater, something better, and in the deepness of that pool I felt my soul and spirit move under the direction of a loving and guiding hand.

Yeah, I think I life that description better.

Harmony of the Seasons | Ohio Nature Photography

The harmony of heart, spirit and soul. There are moments and places where all is joined in the seamless, singular expression of being fully present, aware and receiving. Perhaps not in perfection but yet in the pureness of beauty joined with peace and longing. I marvel in wonder of what is arrayed before my eyes and suddenly all is meant to be.

Fine art nature and landscape photography of spring and fall in Hocking Hills Ohio by Dayton Photographer Jim Crotty
Fine art nature and landscape photography of spring and fall in Hocking Hills Ohio by Dayton Photographer Jim Crotty

The Power of Three | Composites for Impact

One of the tools I use for gaining hits, “likes” and reach on social media is creating and posting composites of my photographs, usually grouped by similar theme, location or subject. I’ve discovered that when done properly, and with a thoughtful sentence or two, “likes” and visibility can increase dramatically. Plus I just enjoy the process of sharing and inspiring.

As with composing a single landscape or nature image I choose to emphasize groupings of three. Three is a powerful number. Look around your everyday environment and you will be surprised just how often it appears, particularly when it comes to architectural design, landscaping and visual art.

Aesthetics aside, for me there is both a spiritual and a restorative essence in three. I do my best to convey that personal meaning in both the images I capture and in the postings I share. I don’t come out and say the reason I do it. I just simply do it and I prefer to leave that little bit of mystery for the viewer to discover and speculate as to my reason why.

Art should never be reduced to something that becomes so homogenous that it becomes impossible to discern the work of one photographer from another. The work should always hold true to serving as the honest visual representation of what moves the artist to create in the first place. That takes courage, particularly in the age of instant sharing and the implied social pressure of social media approval.

The power of three resonates deeply with me and I don’t try to hide that fact in what I compose with my camera and how I share it online. Composition, arrangement and presentation. Look closely and you will see hints at something so much more than an attractive landscape. There are stories here, stories of heart, soul and spirit.

Moonlight and the soft light of dusk have a way of revealing what is hidden behind fortressed walls. The path to the ramparts is made clear. And in the victory the treasure won conquers the conqueror. Locations include Highland Lake Inn, NC; Hilton Head Island SC; Hocking Hills State Park, OH
Moonlight and the soft light of dusk have a way of revealing what is hidden behind fortressed walls. The path to the ramparts is made clear. And in the victory the treasure won conquers the conqueror.
Locations include Highland Lake Inn, NC; Hilton Head Island SC; Hocking Hills State Park, OH

Three Always Three

SweetSurrenderbyJimCrotty