Category Archives: Wildlife

Ethics and Wildlife Photography | At What Expense ?

This story came to my attention yesterday via posts and messages to my photography page on Facebook. What’s funny is that people posting and messaging me thought that I was the “Jim Crotty the wildlife photographer” interviewed in the story. I’m not. It just happens to be a coincidence that this photographer and I share the same name! But this news items brings up a good question regarding what is considered ethical behavior with wildlife photographers when it comes to photographing these animals.

The controversy in this story centers around the issue of “baiting” Snowy Owls for those “spread wing – open talons” shots. I agree with the other “Jim Crotty” in this story. I do think such tactics place both the animal and the photographer in danger. But that’s not the only area of controversy involving wildlife photography. There is also the issue of photographing captive animals in a natural environment and mislabeling the images as true wildlife photography as well as stalking wildlife to the point of harassment and harm.

Truth be told I have photographed the big predators – bears, tigers, wolves – at a wild game farm in Montana. I’ve also spent time photograph raptors at rehabilitation centers. Do the images look as if they were captured in the wild ? Yes. Do I identify the images as being captive animals ? Most times, yes, when it needs to be identified as such.

What I will add is the fact that in both cases the animals were very, very well cared for, and in some cases were rescued from deplorable conditions at zoos and circuses. Still, some “purists” consider this to be cheating. I can easily argue on behalf of the safety and care of the animals being photographed. At least I’m not pursuing a bird to the point where it abandons its nest and/our young or chase it into starvation.

But baiting-in wildlife for me crosses the line into what I consider manipulation of subject to fit the photographer’s needs versus capturing the true spirit and nature of the animal. Yes, it’s not illegal but as stated in the story, “is it ethical?”

One of the reasons this issue is gaining attention in the media is due to the large influx of Snowy Owls into the Midwest (and even as far south as Washington DC) due to the severity of this winter. Wildlife photographers all want that “money shot” of these impressive birds swooping in for the kill. But is it placing the animal at risk at becoming another casualty on the side of the road or tangled in the fishing line used to cast the toy mouse ?

It’s been my experience that people have a unique sense to tell if a photograph has been pushed too hard by a preconceived notion of the photographer, to the point of manipulating the subject into submission. It comes through. Perhaps subtle but most people can pick up on it.

I’ve learned that the images the generate the most positive, honest response are those that were unplanned and a result of a spontaneous interaction with the subject, whether it be portraits, landscapes or wildlife. The greater skill for the photographer is gained through patience and fortitude, and always, always, respect for his or her subject.

What do you think ? Can you tell which images below are of captive animals and which were taken in the wild ?

Jim Crotty Commercial Photography Wildlife Photography by Jim Crotty Great Blue Heron on Hilton Head Island South Carolina by Jim Crotty White-tailed Deer Doe and Fawn on the farm property of Photographer Jim Crotty Golden Eagle Aquila Chrysaetos by Ohio Nature Photographer Jim Crotty Wildlife Photography by Jim Crotty Red-tailed Hawk in South Carolina Maritime Forest by Jim Crotty Siberian Tiger at Triple D Wild Game Farm by Jim Crotty

Landed | Hilton Head Island South Carolina

It’s finally over, but now just beginning. My big move actually began in early February, with the sale of my home in Centerville, Ohio. From there I was in a temporary apartment in Kettering until finally making the decision to not only move from Dayton but also from Ohio.

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Palmetto, maritime forests, scenic skyscapes over tidelands, wildlife everywhere I look. Right outside the back porch of my second floor apartment is a daily dance of herons and egrets. There’s the resident alligator who patrols the pond every afternoon. Within walking distance is the Broad Creek Marina and Up the Creek Pub, a favorite hangout of the locals.

Moving is not easy, but sometimes the need to make trumps inconvenience and expense. I’m still working on getting settled here in a place where there’s an obvious distinction between “visitors” and residents. Surprisingly I’m discovering that moving or establishing a business in South Carolina is actually a little bit more difficult process as compared to Ohio. The good news is that local tourism traffic is as strong as it has ever been despite the ongoing recession. I also have my eyes on a retail space in a prime location for fine art print photography.

Updating my online marketing “presence” is proving to be quite a task, however, I’m making some headway now that my household is out of boxes, in place and plugged-in. Facebook hasn’t done me any favors though by restricting me from updating the title of my business page due to the fact that I have over 150 “likes,” therefor I’ve had to start a new Facebook fan page for the online marketing of my photography and photography services here in South Carolina. Please “like” as there will be content and updates that aren’t just about Hilton Head but lots of good tips and links on digital imaging and the art of nature photography.

All in all I’m happy with my decision to relocate and I’m anxious to get moving along with Photography by Jim Crotty here on Hilton Head.

Late Summer and More Opportunities for Nature Photography in Ohio

More and more opportunities for nature photography as summer wanes toward autumn and a more pleasing light returns upon the Ohio landscape. Photographers in the Dayton area are blessed with a local park system that provides easy accessibility with a wide variety of beautiful subjects. This video was filmed on August 7th at Wegerzyn Gardens in Dayton, one the best locations for garden photography that includes hummingbirds, butterflies and picturesque settings for portraits.

Second Workshop Added for Spring 2010 – Summer Garden Photography

I’m happy to announce the addition of a second, full-day photography workshop for spring 2010, to be held on Saturday, May 29 at Cox Arboretum. Class is limited to the first 25 people who call (937-432-6711) or email me to register. As is the case with all of my past workshops, the cost is $89 per person which does include a box lunch.

Summer Garden Photography will be an entry-level workshop program for those who are just starting out in digital photography and wish to take their picture taking capabilities to the next level by capturing the natural beauty of gardens and nearby parks. The emphasis of the workshop will be upon basic photography of flowers, insects and wildlife, particularly birds. Jim will discuss the importance of understanding both the craft and the art of fine art nature photography, including choosing the right lens for particular subjects, use of filters, lighting for creative effects, aperture, shutter speed, film speed, time exposures and more. There will also be an overview of basic digital editing and enhancements on the computer using both Apple Aperture and Adobe Photoshop.

Part of the workshop instruction will be held within the MeadWestvaco Theater room in the main building facility at Cox Arboretum. This facility allows for comfortable seating with optimal viewing of speakers and presentations. Jim will be using a laptop computer with LCD projector throughout the workshop to clearly demonstrate the photography techniques discussed as well as slideshows of various nature and landscape images from his award-winning and often published stock library of his most popular photographs.

During the day Jim will also guide the group out to the gardens and outside areas of Cox Arboretum to demonstrate the photography techniques discussed within the classroom. More information . . .

Photography and Stock Image Licensing

Previously I was using kind of a “third party administrator” for sales of stock image licensing to most of my images. The monthly fee just simply wasn’t worth it. Hence I’ve returned to directly managing all of my stock image estimates and sales, and like the page on my web site that describes my commercial photography services, I don’t provide a standard rate. That’s too restricting, especially for the photographer. Each project and client situation is unique given the intended usage, distribution, print run, medium, etc., therefor estimates are provided only after I’ve had an opportunity to speak with the potential customer and ask him or her a series of questions.

My new page regarding stock image licensing includes several of what I call ‘stock strips’ – samples grouped according to my most popular stock subjects, including Dayton skyline and cityscapes, wildlife, avian, Ohio landscapes and holiday images. These are also designed to be printed as 4″x8″ direct mail or leave-behind prints.

Also, I’m discovering that more and more publishers and agencies are fishing the waters over on flickr. Nine out 10 times they will contact the photographer of an image they are interested in using without mention of their stock fees or offer of compensation. They simply throw-out the usual “we’ll give you a credit listing” in attempt to take advantage of a photographer’s desire for “the big break.”

I strongly encourage photographer’s everywhere, whether amateur or professional, to stick to their guns when it comes to being paid for usage versus a simple credit listing, or less. Even in the case of most so-called “non-profits.” If the organization has a payroll and they pay for utilities, advertising, etc., then they can – and should – pay for image licensing. A photographer’s time, skill and knowledge go into the crafting of each image.

Stock Photography of Dayton Ohio by Jim Crotty

Avian Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Flower and Garden Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Holiday Image Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Stock Photography of Ohio Landscapes by Jim Crotty

Wildlife Stock Photography by Jim Crotty