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.

Cedar Cathedral by Richard Lewis 2020


Almost Primordial by Richard Lewis 2020


Swamp Morning by Richard Lewis 2020


Deep In The Cedars by Richard Lewis 2020


The Way Through by Richard Lewis 2020


Inside Looking Out by Richard Lewis 2020


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.

End Of The Day

End Of The Day by Richard Lewis 2020


First Light by Richard Lewis 2020


Golden Hour by Richard Lewis 2020


Sun Kissed Fall Tree by Richard Lewis 2020


Pine Barrens Canyon by Richard Lewis 2020

Hazy Winter Morning by Richard Lewis 2020


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.

Photographed in a shadow created during a bright sunny morning.


Bright sunny morning with mist.


Using bright sun to backlight a cedar grove.


Midday hazy light filtered through the forest canopy


Late morning on a sunny day deep in the forest.


Getting Flowers

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.

Turkey Beard Family by Richard Lewis 2020


Floating Pink Crown by Richard Lewis 2020


Morning Light On A Gentian by Richard Lewis 2020


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.

Dunes At Sunset by Richard Lewis 2020


Early Light by Richard Lewis 2020


Morning Light And Shadow by Richard Lewis 2020


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?

Scrapyard Picasso by Richard Lewis 2020


Auto Art by Richard Lewis 2020


Tunnel Vision by Richard Lewis 2020


Two Cars And A Tree by Richard Lewis 2020


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.

Photographer In The Mist by Richard Lewis 2020

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!