Episode seven in my series of “Photographic Moment” video tutorials. “Season of the Good Light” provides some practical tips on capturing the Ohio landscape in autumn, including white balance and ISO settings, shutter speed, aperture and composition. This video was shot on location in the tall grass prairie of Sugarcreek MetroPark.
I’m happy to announce that one of my photographs has once again made the cover of Ohio State Parks Magazine. The most recent issue – fall/winter 2009 – features an image I captured while in Hocking Hills State Park during a weekend in early November. I was there with my two favorite fellow sojourners when venturing out to the woodlands and hollows of Hocking, my daughters Emma and Chloe. Over the last five years this is the fourth issue one of my photographs was selected for the cover of Ohio State Parks.
With all the emphasis currently on our system of National Parks, thanks to another exceptional series airing on PBS by Ken Burns, it’s easy to overlook the beauty and the gifts offered through our local and state parks. I’ve visited and photographed many National Parks, including Great Smoky, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Capital Reef, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Rocky Mountain. All of these strikingly beautiful parks present natural scenery that is beyond breathtaking, there’s no doubt. However, it’s the local, visual treasures found here in my home state of Ohio where my creative spirit and nature-loving soul feels the most at home. Especially Hocking Hills. That’s where my love for nature and landscape photography first took flight during a winter hike with the nature photography club from the Dayton Museum of Natural History (now Boonshoft), so long ago when I was 13 years old.
The State Parks in Ohio are now under a considerable amount of pressure to reduce services and cut costs. It’s a shame. If our National Parks are truly “America’s best idea,” (did you know that Ohio has a National Park ? It’s Cuyahoga, between Cleveland and Akron) then state and local parks and natural areas are the second best idea. In some ways these smaller versions of their big cousins are even more important to protect and preserve due to the fact that they represent places where most people make “first contact” with the beauty and wonder of nature. I’ve always said that the City of Dayton’s best recreational asset is the Five Rivers MetroParks. Considering the shrinking population and economic base in the Dayton area, we are VERY fortunate to have a relatively large number of local parks which are easily accessible, well-managed and each in their own way, provide the essential connection to the healing powers of our natural environment.
In presenting my first, full-day workshop on nature photography, yesterday at Cox Arboretum, the topic that generated the most interest was my work with high dynamic range photography. This slide presentation was created from the images I used at the workshop to illustrate this particular creative technique with digital photography. I like to emphasize that HDR photography – the merging of two or more exposures of the same scene – is NOT digitally adding or altering the image. It simply brings forth a much greater tonal range amongst the existing elements within the photograph. The trick is not to be too “heavy handed” when applying the various settings for gamma, white point, luminosity, etc. when using the tonal adjustment tool.
The September 26 workshop at Cox Arboretum in Dayton went very well, despite it being my first time presenting a full-day program. I limited the attendees to just over 20 people. This was a good, manageable group. I will be presenting another full-day program on a Saturday this January, at which time I will probably concentrate more on digital workflow using Apple Aperture and various digital techniques using both Photoshop and Photomatix.
My most recent release via the Blurb.com bookstore – “Renewal,” featuring spring photography of landscapes in both Hocking Hills State Park of Ohio and Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. This volume is available in both softcover and hardcover formats as an 8″x10″ coffee-table style book, perfect for office lobbies or home. In addition to presenting stunning nature and landscape photographs from these scenic areas of Appalachia the book also includes an introspective essay titled “Life’s Lessons Learned on the Trail to Ramsay Cascade.” This was an article I drafted shortly after my May excursion to The Smokies and provides some insight on how life experiences are often paralleled in the most simple journeys through the natural landscape. The price for the soft-cover version is $29.95, not including shipping.
I’m also pleased to announce the first issue of what I hope to become a regular series of self-published magazines, titled “The Poet’s Eye.” This 24-page, 8.5×11 publication includes a brief introduction about the work presented and select images representing a particular subject, location or photographic technique. This, the first issue, features my recent work with converting high dynamic range photographs to monochrome – black and white – fine art images. The cost per issue is $7.84.
If you’re a regular user of Facebook there is a group page for Jim Crotty Photography. I often post new images and information regarding published images, commercial photography assignments and my photography workshops to this interactive group page which also allows followers to post their information and comments. Check it out.
While most people celebrate the end of summer with back to school and Labor Day activities, I prefer to take notice of the turning of the season, a turning toward what I like to call the “good light.” Softening sunlight and lengthening shadows and fields that turn to gold. This is the nature photographer’s best season when capturing images of the Ohio landscape. It’s also the primary reason I’ve scheduled my first, full-day photography workshop for the weekend of September 26th.
It is also with some melancholy that I say farewell to the summer of 2009. Back in May I made a goal of making this past summer one full of positive experiences from the limited time I have available to spend with my daughters, Emma, age 10, and Chloe, age nine. Making this my goal was in response of regretting not doing such during the summer of 2008. You see I am a single, divorced dad of two very special little girls. During the school year they live with their mother in Texas. Emma and Chloe are my everything, and I’ve made it no secret that there is NOTHING for me in Ohio that comes close to being worth the pain I go through when I have to say goodbye and put them on that American Airlines flight back to Texas.
I mean it – NOTHING, especially Dayton. I don’t think I need to explain that point further for most regular readers of this blog.
I succeeded in accomplishing my goal for this past summer, so much so that the pain of the goodbye (at least for me) was as sharp and searing as it has ever been.
And it’s with that emotion of love and commitment to my children that I present the following video and images, most of which were taken during my daughter’s last week with me in mid-August and going through the lonely days following to the beginning of September.
The visual artist creates what is discovered in the light from that which is felt within.
Thanks to workshop attendee Sue Combs, who was at my short, photography workshop yesterday at Wegerzyn Gardens in Dayton. She snapped this shot of me as I was demonstrating the use of a Lensbaby lens in photographing a Sunflower. I like the angle she’s using, how she composed the image and the choice of a narrow depth of field.
I think there were close to 100 people who attended the program. The Thursday prior to the workshop I contacted the Five Rivers MetroParks office with a “heads-up” on my anticipating a VERY large turn-out. The staff responded promptly with the addition of a second instructor, Adam Alonzo, another very talented photographer here in the Dayton area and experienced instructor. We were able to divide the group into two sections.
While I presented a practical application of basic flower photography techniques, outside in the gardens, Adam conducted an indoor, classroom presentation through the use of laptop and LCD projector. Half way through the one and hour workshop, the two groups switched. This gave everyone an opportunity to receive instruction from myself and Adam, in both classroom and outdoor settings.
All is well that ended well. A special thanks goes out to Adam and the staff at Five Rivers/Wegerzyn.
What’s great is that I now have a waiting list started for not only my full-day photography workshop at Cox Arboretum on September 26, but the registration list for a second, full-day program is already half-full. I limit these programs to just 20 people. The cost is $89 per person, which includes lunch.
I’m going to see how well these first, two full-day workshops go and then I will most likely establish a regular schedule, perhaps a program every one or two months.