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Sorting the wheat from the chaff

When I return triumphantly from a shoot I always run excitedly up to the office and begin downloading the photos. The first step in my process is to download everything and then sort them into bins depending on what I plan to do with them. Here’s my system:


Unfortunately, here are the usual contents of the “Perfect” folder:


Sigh. There’s always tomorrow, I suppose.

Negative Space Can Have a Positive Effect

Many elements work together to create a pleasing photograph. One such elements is negative space. Negative space is all the space inside the picture that is not the subject. The edges of any picture form a frame for that picture. Within that frame, the subject is considered the positive area; the rest is called negative space.

The word negative is used descriptively; it is not a value judgment. Negative space is not something to be avoided. However, it is something to be considered, because it is an important part of a picture’s composition. It is a design element in your image.

A stencil can help you recognize this importance. Here the subject is the brass object, but the negative space that forms the letter is equally if not more important.


Negative space has several functions. It helps define a subject. In many cases, it also provides a vital element in the design of your image. Since a photo is two-dimensional, the space around a subject appears on the same plane as the subject. Negative and positive spaces are side by side. The balance between them should be pleasing. Read more…

The Things I Carry: Tips for the Traveling Photographer

It’s that time of the year again. When nature and landscape photographers all over get the itch to hit the trail and gear-up for the spring shooting season. So much to photograph, so little time. Not to say that winter can’t be a good season for outdoor photography. It can be as long as you’ve got some good, clean white snow to work with. But late winter in the Midwest has a tendency to be a bit dreary and challenging for the creative eye that seeks color, contrast and lively subjects. It seems that the first signs of spring always brings a sense of excitement and renewal for those of us who pursue our passion for image-making.

As I’m writing this entry I’m preparing for my first field outing of the spring season – a weekend of nature, landscape and Civil War battlefield photography down in dear old Virginia, specifically the scenic Shenandoah National Park and at least four major battlefields with the historic town of Culpeper serving as my base of operations.

Perhaps it’s my background from serving in the military, or maybe it just comes from experience, but I like to do as much as I can to prepare for an outing or trip of photography in the field. Like the vast majority of photographers out there – both pros and avid amateurs – my time and resources available for shoots such as this are very limited. I have to make the best of the opportunity available, so I gather my maps and road atlas, measure distances between the locations I want to hit, check the weather forecast, make reservations for overnights, etc.

When it comes to my camera gear I make sure my batteries are charged-up, sensors cleaned and flash cards cleared and ready. These are all important considerations, but I’ve learned from painful experience that it is often the non-photo/camera gear that is packed – or overlooked – that can mean the difference between a successful field photo shoot and a disaster.

Now is a good time for me to inventory and organize the variety of items and tools that keep me going when shooting on the road and in the field. In doing so I’m also presented with an opportunity to share a listing of all that non-photo gear “stuff” that I’ve found to not only be helpful, but a necessity, whether I actually use it or not. Almost all of these kits are either packed and stowed in the back of my Honda Pilot (I actually use the “utility” in SUV) or packed with my camera gear in my LowePro Super Trekker AW II backpack:

Gear Pack #1 –

The Things I Carry gear pack 1 for field and travel photography by Jim Crotty

This one stays in my car, and includes jumper cables, socket wrench set, fuses, tape, and the prerequisite first aid kit. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve used the cables, and I’ve probably dug-in to the first aid kit at least two or three times since I first purchased it, about two years ago.

Read more…

Do a DoubleTake on Your Photos

How would you like to turn your 6 megapixel D100 into a 17 megapixel super D100 for less than $20? You can if you use a Macintosh running OS X. Well, maybe it really won’t actually turn a D100 into a 17 megapixel camera, but you’ll be able to create images of 17 megapixels or even larger relatively painlessly.

Enter a progrom called DoubleTake for Mac OS X. It’s a handy little shareware gem that does a stellar job of stitching images together to form a huge photograph that’s ideal for printing at up to poster sizes with incredible detail.

Read more…

Stampics Lives!

My concerns were unwarranted; Stampics apparently had been making some changes in its email to avoid spam. I received a very nice note from the folks there, so I guess I don’t have to eat crow–yet.

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