Category Archives: Hocking Hills

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

Living Dayton Appearance | Fall Photography in Ohio

I am thankful for the opportunity to appear on the September 29 2015 episode of “Living Dayton,” which airs at noon on WDTN Channel 2 here in the Dayton area. I had fun showing a few sample images and talking photography with host Sallie Taylor.

Seasons of Light | My Best of 2014

Presenting my “Best of 2014” slideshow/video, highlighting what I think are my personal favorite nature and landscape images taken throughout the previous year. The images are presented in order, from January through the end of December, showing the progression of the seasons and the change in light.

┬áThis particular slideshow carries even more personal meaning due to the fact that soon I will be leaving my home on “Raptor Ridge” in Greene County, Ohio. I’ve sold the eight acre farmhouse and property recently and will be exploring other opportunities for my photography and photography instruction by staying somewhat flexible and free from the responsibilities of caring for a property of that size, for the time being.
For a few weeks beginning in mid-March I will be offering field photography instruction in New Mexico, working in conjunction with New Mexico Jeep Tours. I will still maintain Picture Ohio LLC in Dayton. This endeavor is exploratory in nature. I do plan to present spring workshops in Ohio, in possibly April and May.
I will always be thankful for my home and photographic experiences on Raptor Ridge. Part of me will always linger on those sunsets and with those sunrises overlooking the Beavercreek Wetlands as well as some wonderful memories shared with my kids.
Life and photography are ever-changing and I know with me there have been more than the usual amount of changes and moves over the last few years! However one thing will always be constant and that is my passion for photography and my love of sharing my photographic discoveries with others. I am blessed and thankful to have the art of photography to serve as my main channel for expression and connection.

Best of 2014 | Photography by Jim Crotty from Jim Crotty on Vimeo.

Hard-Earned and Worth Celebrating | Spring in Ohio

It would be an understatement to say I am thankful for the arrival of spring in Ohio. This past winter was just brutal. Sure, there were days of beautiful snow and wonderful winter window light, but you never fully realize just how hard winter in Ohio can be until you experience it from the vantage point of a 115 year old farmhouse on eight acres of farmland, one which isn’t connected to all those great utilities we tend to take for granted. Don’t ever allow someone to convince you that propane is an inexpensive way to heat a house during winter!

But spring has sprung and perhaps the best month for nature photography in Ohio is upon us – beautiful May. April was pretty awesome too. I posted this note on my photography Facebook page providing a recap of my experiences during the 2014 Shoot the Hills weekend event in Hocking Hills, Ohio.

More than just an event, Shoot the Hills has become a celebration of spring of sorts, where photographers of all skill levels come together to shake-off the last of the winter blahs and relish in the beauty that is spring in our beloved Hocking Hills State Park.

This had me thinking too. Isn’t the act and art of capturing a photograph just that, a “celebration?” The image that moves both photographer and viewer becoming the visual proof of emotion expressed in appreciation of a moment that will never be repeated again, with that unique harmony and flow of light, subject and setting with the universal need to express beyond what words are capable of describing. The photographer. The subject. The viewer. Expressing, connecting and celebrating.

Spring is much more than a change in the weather. It is a rebirth of creative energy and the lifting of the hopeful spirit. It’s a time to get up, get going and start anew again. Our energy reflects the energy of change that takes place around us, and for me at least photography is representative of that connection between creative spirit and environment.

I’m grateful for spring. All is new again within the elegant mystery of the divine constant.

Nature and landscape of late April in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty Nature and landscape of late April in Hocking Hills Ohio by Jim Crotty InDeepWoodsbyJimCrottyFW Storm clouds and sunset sky on April 29 2014 from Raptor Ridge by Jim Crotty AprilSunsetOvertheFarmbyJimCrottyFW Palm Sunday Moon on April 13 2014 by Jim Crotty May 4 2014 Sunset on Raptor Ridge by Jim Crotty 6 Nature and landscape of early April in Ohio by Jim Crotty

Simply Thankful | My Best of 2013 | Part 2

Continuing on with my personal favorites from 2013 . . . Such an amazing year with so much to be thankful for, photographically and personally.

Grace Be This Day | Lanscape Photography by Jim Crotty

Broken Rock Trail Falls, Hocking Hills Ohio. April 2013. I had returned to Ohio for a short visit after moving to Texas, to Hocking Hills to teach a one-day spring workshop at The Inn at Cedar Falls and to be a judge/guest speaker at the 2013 Shoot the Hills event. It was a spectacular spring in Southeastern Ohio and the streams and waterfalls were flush with flowing water. When I am in Hocking Hills, most often to teach workshops, I try to always set aside at least one day to get out and shoot on my own. When I am teaching I am completely devoted to the task of instructing and guiding my students. This image was one of many that I captured during that day out on the trail by myself, on the Monday following the Shoot the Hills weekend. I was blessed with pristine spring conditions. The light was ethereal coming through the Hemlocks and into the gorges. It was an intimate connection to the place I know best as home when it comes to my love of nature and landscape photography. Broken Rock Trail Falls is off the beaten path and a little bit of a challenge to get to but that’s why I love this scene so much. It’s a closeness, a connection, in quiet and peace.

SummerGracesAugust27byJimCrottyFW

Late August on the Farm. Raptor Ridge, Beavercreek Township, Ohio. August 27 2013. By this time in late summer I had settled-in to my routine and the rhythm of the days on my eight acres of farmland in Greene County. Sunsets came late and were almost always colorful due to my vantage point providing access to a wide-open western horizon. I loved working with these overgrown farm fields as foreground subjects in my landscape images. In South Carolina it was almost always the dunes, ocean or marshland. Here it was fields of tall grass, hills and woodlands. Most often, following a full day of cutting the property on an old, 1970’s John Deere tractor, I would take off on the ATV with my Canon 1D Mark III strapped over my shoulder, scouting for vantage points. This one was from near where my dirt drive exits onto Trebien Road. This image holds the sweet memory of summer. There’s just something innocent and nostalgic about it with a tinge of sadness. It would about one week following this evening when I would suffer a second heart attack, in the farmhouse, this one classified as “major.” If I had not had the first heart attack and two stents, plus the nitro pills from 2010, this image very well could have been one of my last. The next day I was in the cath lab at Miami Valley Hospital for a third stent, this time a much longer and more painful procedure because the blockage on the LAD artery was very large. I am thankful for the help and support of my brothers who were there at the hospital and the love and support of my girlfriend Rebecca. I still haven’t got my head around that experience. Come to think of it, I never quite got my head around the one that happened three years prior! Each day holds so many blessings and so much for which to be thankful for. Never take them or the ones you love and hold close for granted.

August fog at sunrise on Ohio farm by Jim Crotty

Philip Emma and Chloe

On the Day of Your Departure. August morning on Raptor Ridge. August 11, 2013. In early August I introduced my new home on the farm to my younger daughter, Chloe, and my son Philip. I wasn’t sure how this place would be received but both loved it, as would my older daughter Emma when she came to visit during Christmas (the group photo below which was the ultimate Christmas gift for me). One of my best memories of the summer was the sight and sound of Chloe, age 12, flying through the fields, woods and down the dirt road on the ATV, singing and laughing the entire time. This part of the property is what I call the “hollow” which is a valley below the house surrounded my woods on the other three sides. In previous homes the homeowner’s association would have had a fit if these kind of tracks tore up the grass. This time, I AM the homeowner’s association ! For me this image tells more than one story, the first being of the joy and imagination of kids just being kids and just having fun (at the end of the tracks, between the trees, there is a great jump before going out into the open field).

The other story is more bittersweet and personal. On the morning of that Sunday, when both Chloe and Philip were scheduled to fly back to Texas and Florida respectively, a beautiful fog came in over the farm, just at sunrise. I was soon out with camera and in bare feet. capturing the light burning through the mist. The problem with having so much fun with your children when they come for short visits is the pain and quietness after they depart. I’ve been through it so much but I have to get use to it. Instead I’ve learned to let the sadness just flow and then plan for their return. I’m far from being a perfect dad and my moving around has not exactly been the most stable of patterns, but in my heart is a love for my children that is always strong, always enduring and always hopeful.

NovemberWhentheLightEchoesbyJimCrottyFW

When the Light Echoes. November sunrise over Raptor Ridge. November 15, 2013. Most nature and landscape photographers chase the brilliant colors of October when it comes to photography in autumn. I do too, but in Ohio I’ve come to appreciate the haunting light of November contrasted with the shapes and forms of bare branches. Here is the true turning of the seasons. I’m blessed to live in a house that is situated on a hilltop and a back porch and kitchen door/window that overlooks my hollow and the southeastern horizon, and beautiful Locust and huge Maple trees surrounding the home. Mornings are a special time for me. Yes, I have a typical routine of coffee and breakfast but more importantly I enjoy the value of spending those quiet hours in daily readings, prayer and thought. The sunrise each morning right outside my kitchen door here on Raptor Ridge is like a curtain opening to a grand stage of another day of unexpected blessings. On this particular morning in mid-November I was treated to something truly special. I consider this possibly my best image of 2013. The story told is one of the peaceful endurance of love and patience, and of hope.

ThroughtheOpeningbyJimCrottyFW

Moonrise and Thunderhead. Kettering, Ohio. July 14, 2013. This is one of the few Ohio summer landscape images that was not captured on my property at Raptor Ridge in Greene County. Instead this from a cornfield/roadside near Wilmington Pike in Kettering, Ohio. I had been shopping at a nearby Kroger grocery story when I noticed this big thunderhead from a storm that was off on the western horizon. All I needed was a decent foreground free of homes and power lines. This field, across from the Quail Run Kettering Tennis Center, did nicely. As the storm clouds broke the half Moon shown through with the thunderhead illuminated by the light of the setting sun below. For me this image speaks of summers in Ohio, of the music of Crickets, Katydids and distant thunder.

TheClassicbyJimCrottyFW

The Classic. Ohio landscape in black and white. Trebein Road, Xenia, Ohio. November 22, 2013. This image was the result of some planning, I admit. That’s because it was a scene I had noticed when I first moved to the area last summer. Every time I’d drive down that way on Trebein Road, on my way to State Route 35 from my house, it kept calling me to be photographed. This is very similar to a scene I know quite well in Hocking Hills, Ohio. The trees nestled between hills was hard to resist. It was just a matter of waiting for the right kind of sky to fit the subject and foreground. I love working with patterns in my landscapes, especially roads and fences. It was a rainy, cold day in November when the opportunity finally presented itself. Once in camera I knew I had captured what I had been after in my mind’s eye since late June, and the conversion to black and white communicates fall in Ohio quite well simply through the play of light and shadow.

Dandelion Silhouette by Jim Crotty

Dandelion Wine. Raptor Ridge. September 11, 2013. Perhaps a bit cliche, I know, but the Dandelion silhouette is one of my favorites from the summer. It’s the coming harvest during those days of gold when sunsets just seem to linger a bit longer and the days aren’t so quick to come to an end.

Every season holds special memories. As the years go by the memories become more cherished and as a result the experience of the gift of here and now is more valued. Through all the moving around, through all the worry and fear, hope endures in the grace of simple gratitude.

I may never become the most successful photographer in the world but the treasures I’ve been blessed with through experience, art and love are immeasurable. And there is still so very, very much more . . .

Simply Thankful | My Best of 2013 | Part 1

The best way for me to express the incredible experiences of 2013 is by sharing my personal favorite images from throughout the year. January 1 2013 began on Hilton Head Island. By the end of the month I was on my way to Texas and by the beginning of July I was back home in Ohio. I’ve taken some kindhearted ribbing from a few family members and friends regarding the craziness of my moving twice in one year, but, I still believe that it all happened for a reason and to set the stage for greater blessings down the road. Besides, at least I can say “done that, been there, I tried it out.”

One of the important lessons I learned is that the grass is not always greener on the other side and Ohio can be a pretty awesome place to live. It gets a bum rap by many who grow up here. It deserves much better. Another lesson is to carefully think through the advice of others when they give you their opinion about where and how you should live your life. Just saying. I have a tendency to be too much of a people-pleaser, much to the determent of my own health. I’m working my way out of that, one day at a time. Follow your heart and those who love and care will fall in around you.

Another lesson reinforced is the fact that the best images arise from where and when the heart is engaged. It’s not so much of chasing images in many locations but rather letting go of expectations and following the heart and the blessings that are presented, even if just outside the back door or down the road.

All in all I am very thankful to have finally landed back in the Dayton Ohio area, enjoying life and photography on my little eight acres of rural heartland. The journey has been incredible, tiring, wonderful. So many images captured that could have made my top ten list. It was hard to select the ones to post here but honestly these are the ones that carry the most personal meaning for me, whether they were popular on social media or not, it’s the personal connection and story that counts.

These images are no particular order. Here goes –

AltusOklahomabyJimCrottyFW

March 2013: Altus, Oklahoma. At the beginning of February I had moved to Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas. It’s one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. Lots of development. Lots of young families, but very limited as far as subject matter for the type of photography that I am known for and enjoying shooting. In order to find the “good stuff” had to take trips out of the Dallas metroplex. One location that I thoroughly enjoyed were the small towns and scenic hills in and around the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. This scene immediately caught my eye, along the streets in Altus, Oklahoma. It presented a contrast and composition I could not resist. I’m a sucker for weathered, old and vintage. These scenes are full of character.

SticktotheOldRoadsbyJimCrottyFW

Keep to the Old Roads. Frisco, Texas. For me at least the most fulfilling photographic experiences are those that I share with my children. Even when they are sitting in the car complaining “oh geez dad not again, really?” I know that what I am sharing with them is having a positive impact. This was a late afternoon in early April along of the few remaining rural roads on the outskirts of Frisco, Texas. My daughter Chloe was with me. She accompanied me on an outdoor portrait session for a large family near their home in Frisco. Afterwards, as we were driving back home, I noticed the sky breaking up and the sun streaming through. I just needed the right foreground to capture it so I headed over to this farm road which was near a friend’s house. This image speaks of the change of seasons on the open prairies of North Central Texas and more importantly a memory shared with my daughter Chloe.

July evening on the farm in Beavercreek Township Ohio by Jim Crotty

Sunset on the Farm. July 2013. Beavercreek Township, Ohio. Home again. I had always wanted to live on farmland with easy access to nature all around me. I finally found it with the purchase of an eight-acre historical farmhouse in Beavercreek Township, Ohio, east of Dayton. I moved in late June 2013. It has been quite an adjustment but the scenes at sunrise and sunset are an incredible blessing. So much just right here around my house. But what came with the purchase as well is the work required to maintain property this size. It can be hard, but fun and fulfilling too. I never thought I’d enjoy an old John Deere tractor so much. This was just after sunset. I had finished cutting for the day, put the tractor back in the garage and was walking back to the house when the sky lit-up with a light that speaks of summers in rural Ohio. There is peace here and I am thankful.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here by Jim Crotty

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here. Old Man’s Cave, Hocking Hills Ohio. August 2013. Hocking Hills is a very special place. One of the best memories of last summer of going there for a short visit with my daughter Chloe and son Philip. This was Philip’s first visit to Hocking Hills. I had not planned to do any photography of my own other than images of Chloe and Philip, hiking and rappelling, so this landscape image down in the Old Man’s gorge was unplanned. This what makes this image one of my best of the year. It was the experience that it represents that makes it stand-out. Plus there was just something about the light coming down through there on that August afternoon. Peace pours in and gratitude is expressed best in those places and experiences that are shared with loved ones.

(to be continued . . .)