The Theme for the Year was Getting It Without Getting It
To say 2020 was an interesting year is an understatement. The subtitle of this post describes just how interesting 2020 was to this photographer. Getting it is refining my photographic vision without getting it, Covid-19. Fortunately being quarantined in the New Jersey Pine Barrens isn’t a bad thing. It is a large place and familiar canvas to create on. Join me as I duck the virus to share some images from 2020.
Getting Cedar Swamps
If you want to be socially distant, a swamp is the place to go. I’ve always been enamored with Atlantic White Cedar Swamps, but they are not easy places to get to or into. You really can’t get a swamp from the outside. You can create some nice photos looking in, but there is nothing in the Pine Barrens, or possibly the world, as surreal as the light inside one of these swamps. With a new swamp wardrobe, heavy duty enough to survive pushing through the thick growth surrounding a cedar swamp and navigating the tight wet spaces inside, in I went. It was transformative. The environment is part primordial, part mythical and a challenge to photograph. I’m creating a complete portfolio on Pine Barrens Cedar Swamps, but here are some favorites.
Getting Beyond Sunrises and Sunsets
There is nothing like a sunrise or sunset in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. the flat landscape is an invitation to highlight dramatic golden hour skies. I decided somewhere along the way to make the landscape the focus of my work and the sky to play the supporting role. What I got was becoming better at using light instead of photographing light. It allowed me to deepen the understanding that light doesn’t determine when we photograph, it determines what we photograph. This is something we’ll focus more on in my workshops when I can start them up again. The concept of photographing beyond the golden hours, or when there is no golden hour due to clouds continues in the next section also.
Getting Intimate with the Pine Barrens
Inspiration and influence are critical to creative growth. Through the work of photographer Sarah Marino‘s smallscapes and my friend Rafal Goraczniak‘s no sky intimate landscapes, I started looking more intimately at Pine Barrens to find the landscape within the landscape. The concept of the intimate landscape isn’t new to photography, but it’s something worth exploring. It is another tool a photographer can use to control light instead of just photographing light. The captions below describe the light at the time each image was made.
I was never good at photographing flowers. However, wildflowers are one of the gems of the Pine Barrens. So 2020 became a time to finally get intimate with these beauties of the Pines. Below are three favorites, but there are more flowers located here.
Getting the Sand Dunes of Death Valley
We managed to get in a trip to Death Valley before lockdowns and quarantines. Death Valley is probably my second favorite place in the world. But it is hard to get a place you don’t get to on a regular basis. During this trip, I decided to focus on the famous sand dunes to find my creative voice within them. Let me know how I did in by leaving a comment.
Getting the Airplane and Automotive Graveyard
After running workshops in, and photographing the Airplane and Automotive Graveyard for years you would think I would have gotten the place awhile ago. This year I stopped looking at these things as old airplanes and cars and started viewing them as abstract shapes, color and tonality. Now I get it. What do you think?
Getting to Partner With a Great Organization
In spite of the pandemic, I managed to safely run 5 workshops as part of a partnership with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. Over Forty photographers were able to see and photograph the beauty of the New Jersey Pine Barrens while a significant amount of money was raised for a great organization. What I got from this is a desire to do more. From now on, half of all my Pine Barrens workshop fees will be donated to an organization that works within the Pine Barrens.
All in all, it’s been a challenging year being separated from friends and family and confined to home. Still, it’s been a great year for growth of a passion to create artistic photography. I wish you all a fulfilling and rewarding 2021 in a world that returns to a normal we can all enjoy.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!
There just couldn’t be a more beautiful way to have started this New Year.
Thank you Michael. I appreciate it.
I know we all struggled but what a productive year you had. Funny how we saw the salvage in the same abstract light… more scary than funny… lol. I feel empowered to know you personally and artistically. I would say that this new has got to be better… BUT… I been proven wrong so many times last year so I won’t jinx it.
Thanks Mike. It only took a few years but I started seeing the history less and the artistic compositions more. I agree that the new is going to be better. I’m the eternal optimist. It’s good to know you as a photographer and friend and hopefully 2021 will allow us to actually see each other with cameras in tow.
You made a really rotten year look damn good. Kudos.
Thanks Sara. Who would have thought a swamp would be the preferred place to go in 2020.
Your love of the Pines shows through your beautiful art! Your talent is inspiring!
Thanks Ron. Wild no one likes the pandemic, I do appreciate the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the Pine Barrens.
Rich, what a beautiful set of photos with fascinating descriptions. The first image of the cedar swamp “Cedar Cathedral” is my most favorite. I have returned to this image many times and each time I discover something interesting in it. It’s hard to believe that in the middle of NJ we have such a primordial forest, in fact, this photo is proof why PB is a National Preserve and why it is on the UNESCO list. By the way, I am honored that you mentioned that my photography was part of the inspiration. There is no greater distinction than to inspire another artist. New Jersey is double lucky, we have Pine Barrens and you 🙂
Thanks Rafal. I appreciate your compliment and inspiration. I also am very happy with the Cedar Cathedral. It was here that I realized the power and truly surreal nature of a cedar swamp. They are kind of the heart of this special place and it is kind of appropriate that they are often hidden and even when found they challenge us to earn their respect.
Wow. Just WOW!
Thank you Michele. I’m happy you enjoyed this post.
Rich, your pictures have reawakened & intensified my love for the Pine Barrens! Thank you!!
Thanks Becky. I am very happy that my work, which reflects my love of the Pine Barrens, has had a nice impact on you.
Wow. Thank you for so graciously sharing your beautiful work with everyone. Wow!
Thank you Gene for your comment. I’m always happy to share my photography.
A very amazing collections of photographs. Impossible to pick out a favorite because each on has it’s own attributes that makes it the stand out. While I typically lean towards the landscape shots there is something about two cars and a tree that really draws me in. I’m not sure if it’s the colors, the fact that it represents a period in time past and they are still here in decay to remind us of what was, or exactly why it resonates so much.
Thank you David. It is interesting that you like the two old cars. They have intrigued me for years but it wasn’t until I noticed how their shape, color and texture juxtaposed with the tree that I finally was able to make a photograph that did their age and design justice.
Spectacular collection Rich! Looking forward to what you’ll create in 2021!
ALL your photos are spectacular!!! So many beautiful ones, how could one pick one out they wanted to buy?
Rich: Great cedar swap photos