I’m happy to announce that I have added a second, full day nature photography workshop for May 2017. In addition to the workshop in Hocking Hills Ohio on Saturday May 6th I will also be presenting a workshop at Cox Arboretum MetroPark near Dayton Ohio on Saturday May 20th. Both programs will be based on mastering the craft and art of spring nature photography. I present my workshops as an effective balance between both in-classroom instruction and field instruction, culminating in a review of select images from the students. The majority of my workshop students are those just starting out with their first DSLR camera but I also make it a point to include advanced instruction for the more experienced photographers. Additional details and registration information is available at http://jimcrotty.zenfolio.com/photography-workshops
My Favorite Photograph of 2015. I was recently asked to identify and write a short blog post about what I consider my favorite image from 2015. Here’s my reply –
To most it may not be much – just a beautiful spring sky and new color in the trees. But to me is what this image has come to symbolize due to timing, setting and subject, but mostly timing. And not timing in the sense of capturing the light at that particular hour or season but timing in the sense of the context of my approach and what I was feeling when I released the shutter button.
It was one year ago, April 26 2015. Just one month prior to that date – March 27 – my mother had passed away at the age of 79. She had struggled with the declining health that comes with Parkinson’s Disease for nearly 20 years.
The scene of this sky and trees was directly above her hillside garden at the Kettering, Ohio home she shared with my dad since 1989.
Her garden was her soul and everything that grew in it was an extension of her heart.
You see that’s who first awakened my love for nature (and subsequently, nature and landscape photography) so very, very long ago. Well, for as long back as I can remember. It was through those distinct seasons growing up in Southwestern Ohio when I recall seeing my mom in her element. She became lost in her gardening, with two impeccable rose gardens and a backyard full of carefully arranged and cared-for annuals and perennials, interspersed and bordered by Locust, Maple and Pine. Spring through fall, mom was in her garden. The local gardening club came for tours due to her attention to detail and expert knowledge on what could grow well here and not there and what provided the best visual presentation as seasons progressed.
Mom was not a fan of winter in Ohio though, especially after Christmas. I like to think it was just too hard of a wait for her spirit and need to be among all things green and growing.
Mom passed away on a Friday just at the end of March. Spring was just barely getting a foothold. A couple weeks later, when spring went into full motion across the Ohio fields, gardens and woodlands, it was the most beautiful of Ohio springs I can remember. It was mom.
The songbirds loved her garden too, and mom loved songbirds. I remember when I was just six or seven and how mom shared her excitement with me over the pair of Cardinals (her favorite) who had built a nest in the tree just outside the laundry room window. Each day she take me to the window to check on the progress, of first eggs and then baby Cardinals, and then leaving the nest.
Before I was ten I could tell the difference between a House and Carolina Wren and could pick-out the call of Robin, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Starling, Sparrow, Finch and a variety of woodpeckers. And should an owl make an appearance – such as a giant Great Horned – well that was something to truly celebrate.
This image is much more than just sky and trees. It’s more than the technical specs of the camera and lens (if you must know it’s a Canon 1D Mark III with a Canon 17-35mm f2.8 lens). It goes deeper than its composition and color. This photograph is of love.
Photography is a visual connection to the stories that interweave our spirits and give representation to that eternal grace of soul feeling. When that visual connection is so deeply rooted in the love that binds family, then every image becomes cherished in the gallery of the heart.
Spring came beautiful in 2015 and it wasn’t long before evening fall during summer in mom’s garden was full of fireflies and the songs of cricket and Katydid.
The love we leave behind will always take root in the gardens we tend to during our brief journey together. With care we tend the soil and cultivate our heart songs, for in another spring a mother will take her young son to the window and look wide-eyed at the Cardinal’s eggs in the nest in the tree outside, and above a brilliant spring sky will swirl with clouds and Red Bud trees. And the call of a lone Mourning Dove will come on a morning breeze.
My advice is to take advantage of the opportunity. There should be clear weather this Friday evening, unlike last year. But when you see a gaggle of photographers setting-up their tripods at the same spot to get the same shot of the skyline reflected in the river, turn and go the other way. The best image will NOT be the one that wins the contest. It will be the photograph that speaks clearly of how YOU see and interpret light and subject.
Look for the unique – the location or viewpoint that all others fail to see or an angle that worked well for you when photographing entirely different subjects. Break away. Dare to be different. Judging in these contests is usually far from being truly objective (especially where local “art experts” are concerned), so even if you don’t enter, hold that image that you feel good about and look for other avenues to gain the exposure (no pun intended) that you deserve.
Most important of all, just have fun. That’s when that “award-winner” will appear through your viewfinder.
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