Posted by: kerryl29 | May 3, 2016

Covers, and the Judging of Books Thereby

New Jersey.  Land of smokestacks and suburban sprawl.  As photogenic as a toxic waste site.

Right?

No.  Not right.  Completely wrong, in fact.

There are few things in this world that I take as much pleasure from as seeing stereotypes obliterated, so you can imagine how I felt last August when I returned from a very brief (non-photography) trip to northern New Jersey.

My wife is really into dogs–collies, especially.  Each year, there’s a gathering, of sorts, of collie enthusiasts at a park in Wayne, New Jersey that’s the site of the home of Albert Payson Terhune, who’s kind of the patron saint of collies.  His former estate, known as Sunnybank, is now the site of Terhune Memorial Park.  The aforementioned annual gathering, which takes place on a weekend in the second half of August, is something my wife has always wanted to attend so last year we made the drive there.

Though this was decidedly not a photo trip, I brought my gear with me.  I figured that, while my wife was hanging out with the rest of the collie…enthusiasts…I might spend a few hours wandering around…well, somewhere nearby.  When I found out exactly where we’d be based–in Wayne Township–I consulted a map, found a nearby state forest and figured I’d see what I could find there, as well as at the Terhune Park site, which I knew overlooked Pompton Lake.

My expectations were low, for a variety of reasons.  The timing of our visit–late summer–was hardly ideal for photography in this part of the world and given my lack of familiarity with the specific locations and the extremely limited amount of time I might have, there would be little chance of optimizing what opportunities I might stumble across.

I ended up with a few hours time to devote to photography on consecutive nights.  On the first evening, I wandered around the small Terhune Park (less than 10 acres in size) and a nearby Revolutionary War era property that has been preserved.  On the second day, I had a few hours to locate and explore Ramapo Mountain State Forest.  As I noted, the opportunities were minimal and my expectations were virtually non-existent.  And yet…

Here’s a small sampling:

Mead-Van Duyne Residence, Passaic County, New Jersey

Mead-Van Duyne Residence, Passaic County, New Jersey

Van Riper-Hopper House, Passaic County, New Jersey

Van Riper-Hopper House, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake Intimate, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake Intimate, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake Sunset Abstract, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake Sunset Abstract, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake at Dusk, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Pompton Lake at Dusk, Terhune Memorial Park, Passaic County, New Jersey

Fern Forest, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Fern Forest, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Prairie Wildflowers, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Prairie Wildflowers, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Lily Pads, Ramapo Lake, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Lily Pads, Ramapo Lake, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Sunset, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Dusk, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Ramapo Lake at Dusk, Ramapo Mountain State Forest, New Jersey

Don’t get me wrong–I’m under no illusions that this my “best work” (whatever that means) or that these are the most awe-inspiring locations that I’ve ever visited.  But I think it’s worth remembering that these outings–a total of about five hours on consecutive evenings–amounted to little more than a lark.  I wandered around a couple of places that I knew nothing of, under far less than ideal conditions, for a few hours.  I was constantly thinking about how photogenic these spots would be in the spring or the fall (like most places east of the Mississippi River).  I also wondered what I might be able to mine out of New Jersey if I had, you know, actually done some research on the best shooting spots.  All I’d done on this instance was settle for locations of convenience.

I can only imagine what I’d be able to find if I approached New Jersey in the same manner that I treat any location when I’m in the process of planning a dedicated photo trip, in terms of the time of the year, time devoted and research.  And maybe I’ll do just that at some point.  I know I won’t be disappointed by the opportunities available to me if I do; of that I’m certain.  It may not be the Canadian Rockies or Monument Valley, but New Jersey is endowed with its own photogenic secrets, simply waiting to be unearthed.

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Responses

  1. Ya know Kerry, I find that to be true in most instances. Dig a little, and one can find interesting or beautiful images most anywhere. I think you posted fine images and judging what I see, most folks would like to visit these places. I know I would.

    • Thanks, David. Agreed on the general applicability of the principle; you can find things worth shooting just about anywhere, as long as you’re willing to put in some effort.

      What was noteworthy about the NJ experience, however, is that I put in almost no effort and still found plenty of interest. And I’d like to revisit the places I photographed during my brief time there, as well as check out others. If I don’t end up doing that some day, it’s going to be a function of limited time, not limited motivation.

  2. I came to the realization a long time ago that beauty, or at least something aesthetically pleasing, can be found in every state. You have proven that is true in New Jersey. My favorite of the set is the Pompton Lake Intimate. Perhaps it is in the intimate scenes that unexpected beauty is found in unlikely places. We just have to keep our eyes open.

    • Thanks, Ellen. (I’m pretty partial to that Pompton Lake intimate myself.)

  3. Love them all! As always your images are so wonderful. I like the calmness and the joy they bring each time I see your posts 🙂

    • Thanks very much!

  4. Quite an attractive grouping! I enjoyed the walkabout with you and find that they somehow have a vintage appeal in appearance. Lovely!

  5. What? No pictures of the “dogs–collies, especially”? 🙂 You certainly did NJ proud!

    • Oh, I took some pictures of the collies. The last day of this gathering there’s a “puppy match”…basically a collie specialty dog show for puppies. I gave my wife the images that I shot that day…not sure what she did with them. 🙂

  6. One of my friends, who grew up in NJ, said get onto the secondary roads, and you will find a completely different NJ, particularly in the southern part of the state.

    • I haven’t spent any time in southern New Jersey (though I’d really like to visit Cape May at some point), but I have no doubt that there are many, many places in the area worthy of exploration with camera in hand. I was plenty impressed with the northern part of the state!

  7. Enjoyed your photos! As a life-long resident of NJ, I appreciated it! There are many beautiful places to photograph in NJ!

    • Thanks very much. And I have no doubt–none at all–that there are endless photo opportunities to be had in New Jersey. I basically wandered off at random and found countless compelling subjects.

  8. My own stereotypes of New Jersey were obliterated by John McPhee’s book, The Pine Barrens. If you return, and want to try the southern part of the state, it’s a must-read as part of your planning. Actually, it’s a must-read, anyway. McPhee is the best.

    • Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to check out the book; it sounds interesting.

  9. This post, and one of your other recent ones, prove that you’re one of the finest landscape photographers today! While great images like yours may not come to every one who visits the Canadian Rockies, almost any one can shoot a photo there that will make most people “ooo” and “ahh”. But to shoot images like yours in these less than ideal places is what sets you apart from the crowd!

    I’m leaving on my own vacation to northern Michigan tomorrow, and wanted to view these images one more time before I left, hoping to have learned something from them.

    • Thanks very much, Jerry. That’s high praise indeed.

      I hope your vacation goes well. I’m on the road myself (which is why it too me so long to respond–sorry for the delay).


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