Tortured Landscape In Joshua Tree National Park by Richard Lewis

Joshua Tree National Park – Part 1

Morning in the California Desert

I love the “tortured landscape” of Joshua Tree National Park. Under the right light it can range from dramatic to alien with just a touch of the surreal. On this particular morning the soft diffused morning light was pretty consistent, so it was not necessary to work quickly to catch that quickly vanishing moment of perfect light. I took advantage of these conditions to spend more time composing the photographs.

The luxury of time

With lighting conditions like they were on particular this morning, it can extend the “Golden Hour” of the sunrise into what I like to call the “Bolden Hour” with a mix of gold and blue daylight. After spotting this interesting rock formation, I decided it would look good backlit by the colors of the distant mountains and sky. The composition attempts to balance that large rock formation, which is a heavy element on the right, with the rock outcropping that I was standing on in the lower left. The colors of the background help balance the panoramic image out. Also, it was a particularly beautiful landscape.

Rocky Landscape Panorama in Joshua Tree National Park

Morning Panorama In A Tortured Landscape by Richard Lewis 2016

16_joshua-tree-morning-on-the-rocks-with-composition-lineHiking further into the desert led me to this vista just as the sun was peeking through the clouds and falling delicately on the rocks. The composition here was made by positioning the camera close to the edge of the rock formation in the foreground and using its diagonal edge to match up with the other elements to create a sort of “S” Curve that leads to the patch of red in the sky just along the horizon.

Morning on the Rocks In Joshua Tree National Park by Richard Lewis

Morning On The Rocks By Richard Lewis 2016

Sometimes you stumble on a scene that not only begs to be photographed, but it is also a natural composition. In this case, the foreground with the small gully and lines etched into the rocks provided a perfect set of leading lines to a particularly nice Joshua Tree rock formation. Because the light was diffused by the clouds and showed no signs of changing, I had the time to play with the composition by shooting the scene vertically, horizontally and from different camera angles. What worked the best was this horizontal image with the camera close to the ground. This both highlighted the foreground and partially eliminated the less interesting middle ground.

Tortured Landscape In Joshua Tree National Park by Richard Lewis

Tortured Landscape 1 by Richard Lewis 2016

The light just didn’t quit

The sun played hide and seek with the clouds all day. On a hike later on in the day, I  photographed some remote locations deep in Joshua Tree National Park’s back country under some particularly nice soft light.

Tortured Landscape in Joshua Tree by Richard Lewis

Tortured Landscape 1 by Richard Lewis 2016

Tortured Landscape in Joshua Tree by Richard Lewis

Tortured Landscape 2 by Richard Lewis 2016

Tortured Landscape in Joshua Tree by Richard Lewis

Tortured Landscape 3 by Richard Lewis 2016

If you want the popular attractions at Joshua Tree to yourself, wake up early. If you get out before the tourists and the rock climbers are awake, you will have those places to yourself along with the bonus of seeing them under the beautiful desert morning light.

Technical Note: Triangles are a strong compositional element. Using them in your photographs will create much more visually interesting images. Can you find the triangles in these images?

More Photographs from this trip will be posted soon. Until then enjoy my Joshua Tree website gallery here. 

Enjoy

 

 

An Abandoned Farm House

The remains of a South Jersey Farm 

Abandoned Farm House by Richard Lewis

Abandoned Farm House by Richard Lewis 2016

I noticed this old abandoned farm house by accident while driving. I just happened to glance at the side of the road and saw it at the end of a long and very overgrown driveway.

The house is a typical early to mid 19th century South Jersey farm house. The right-hand side (top photo) was probably the original house and the left side was most likely added years later. Parts of that addition might actually be an older 18th century house, but that would be difficult to tell without going through it in detail.

I went back to this house before dawn to photograph it and caught some beautiful early light at sunrise. It seems a little surreal to see this kind of elegant light falling on such a dilapidated structure.

As bad as the house was, the condition of the rest of the farm was worse. A foundation was the only thing left of a large barn. Nature was doing a good job of demolishing the other outbuildings.

The interior of the farm house was in really bad shape. I had to be careful of my footing and decided not to go upstairs. I may work up my courage to do that on a future trip if I find myself out that way again.

The preservationist in me dreads seeing three siding types on this old home, especially the ugly red asphalt siding that seemed to be popular at one point in the New Jersey Pinelands. My artist side could not help falling in love with the color scheme and textures that this re-muddling has created.

Rear View of an Abandoned Farmhouse by Richard Lewis

Rear View of an Abandoned Farm House by Richard Lewis 2016

I was in the middle of a long one-minute exposure in another room when I noticed the golden dawn light filtering in through the front door. I had to stop what I was doing to shoot this instead. The warm red light falling on this ruined home highlighted its desolation.

Front Hallway at Dawn by Richard Lewis

Front Hallway at Dawn by Richard Lewis 2016

Stepping outside during the sunrise brought even more feelings of  desolation.

Morning Light on an Abandoned Farm House by Richard Lewis

Morning Light on an Abandoned Farm House by Richard Lewis 2016

While there is a strange beauty to capture in abandoned buildings, I also want to find their personal history, or the ghosts, as I called it in my post about the Pennhurst Asylum. These next photographs shows remnants of the people who lived here. What was it like cooking in this simple kitchen? Why is there a mirror by the sink? Who picked the paint scheme for the front hallway? Just how comfortable was that plush furniture in the parlor?

Abandoned Farm House Kitchen by Richard Lewis

Abandoned Farm House Kitchen by Richard Lewis 2016

View Towards the Kitchen by Richard Lewis

View Towards the Kitchen by Richard Lewis 2016

Abandoned Farmhouse Parlor by Richard Lewis

Abandoned Farm House Parlor by Richard Lewis 2016

Old and abandoned farms like this one are evidence of a changing landscape. I’m a landscape photographer by passion and, until recently, passed by many old buildings while seeking the more natural subjects like forests, streams and mountains. Now those abandoned structures are grabbing my attention. They are also part of the landscape and in some cases, the people living in and using those buildings caused the landscape to become what it was through farming or industry. I’m finding myself driven to record them with my camera and hopefully do justice to their history, good or bad.

Enjoy

Find more of my work on my website

Missouri Backroads by Richard Lewis

The Ozark Mountains, Yup, The Ozark Mountains – Part 2

Missouri’s Rugged, Beautiful Landscape

Here are more photographs from my trip to the Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri with photographer Craig McCord. In my previous post I showed the old mills we visited which were set in a beautiful and rugged landscape. The photographs below show more of that landscape.

There were not a lot of opportunities to photograph the grand landscape of the Ozark Mountains because those mountains are very wooded. Yet, every now and then, there would be a break in the trees or somewhere along the roadside, where a magnificent view would  be revealed.

Storm Light In The Ozark Mountains by Richard Lewis

Storm Light In The Ozark Mountains by Richard Lewis 2016

I was able to spend time on my own the last day that I was in Eminence, Missouri. A nice morning mist made that time very worth while.

Missouri Farmscape by Richard Lewis

Missouri Farmscape by Richard Lewis 2016

Missouri Backroads by Richard Lewis

Missouri Backroads by Richard Lewis 2016

Blue Spring

Blue Spring really does look like this. That dark blue water is not faked in Photoshop.  The spring is very deep and flows quickly at about 90 million gallons a day. These two factors cause a kind of chemical reaction with the minerals in the rocks resulting in this deep blue color.

Ozark Mountain Blue Spring by Richard Lewis

Blue Spring by Richard Lewis 2016

Ozark Mountain Blue Spring Source by Richard Lewis

Blue Spring Source by Richard Lewis 2016

The Intimate Ozark Mountain Landscape

The Ozark Mountains are not a place with a lot of expansive views, but it is a nice place to get intimate with the landscape and find the patterns and compositions in the forest surrounding you. Being from the flat and sandy New Jersey Pinelands made the rocky and mountainous Ozarks an interesting place to figure out photographically. Both places are ruggedly beautiful, just in very different ways.

Top Of The Gorge by Richard Lewis

Top Of The Prairie Hollow Gorge by Richard Lewis 2016

Above Rocky Falls Ozark Mountains by Richard Lewis

Above Rocky Falls by Richard Lewis 2016

A Touch Of Fall In The Ozark Mountains by Richard Lewis

A Touch Of Fall In The Ozark Mountains by Richard Lewis 2016

The Ozark Mountains are a great place for photographing flowing water but this is the only photograph of it I’m showing here. (See the technical note below.) I’ve spent a lot of time photographing flowing water, so I get to be a little discriminating. This image is one of my favorites of the trip.

Two Sticks In The Creek by Richard Lewis

Two Sticks In The Creek by Richard Lewis 2016

Technical Note: The above photograph could be considered a compositional no-no. The “rules” of composition say that there should be an odd number of main elements shown. There actually were 3 of these branches sticking out of the water. One was bobbing up and down so much in the current that the long exposure needed to get the silky feel of the water caused it to be too blurry. Instead of doing a double exposure, I instinctively left it out of the photograph. While processing this image, and being temporarily stuck on the rules, I thought about lightening the little waves on the right in Photoshop to make them visually stronger to become a third main element. In the end I decided against it because the diagonal line of the two sticks creates a stronger composition. What do you think?

It’s important to take the time to evaluate the best way to photograph subjects in front of your camera. Use the “rules” as a guideline and let your heart and your imagination be the final say on the way you create your photographs.

Enjoy!

Alley Mill Ozarks Missouri by Richard Lewis

The Ozark Mountains, Yup, The Ozark Mountains – Part 1

The Old Mills and Landscape of Southern Missouri

When I signed up for Craig McCord’s photography workshop in the Ozark Mountains, he probably thought I made a mistake. Why would a guy from New Jersey go to southern Missouri to take pictures? Shouldn’t I be going to the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons or some other place with grand in its name for great photography? Well, I like the diversity of our American landscape so off to Missouri I went.

On a chilly Thursday afternoon I met up with Craig for his “Fall In The Ozarks” workshop in the small town of Eminence, Missouri. All the other photographers were locals from Saint Louis making me the only foreigner. Missouri is known as the “Show Me” state and for the next three days that is exactly what happened. Craig showed us the special beauty deep in the Ozark Mountains that are full of history and rugged beauty.

Part 1. The Mills

In this post the focus will be on the old mills in the area. We photographed three which were used to saw lumber, grind flour and even generate electricity. I decided to classify them here by their artistic value.

Alley Mill – The Post Card

Alley Mill is a restored mill that is a must see spot in the Missouri Ozark Mountains. Go into any store in the area and you will see Alley Mill on many of the post cards for sale. Why not? It’s a pretty building in a very picturesque setting.

Alley Mill Ozarks Missouri by Richard Lewis

Alley Mill by Richard Lewis 2016

Alley Mill Race by Richard Lewis Missouri Ozarks

Alley Mill Race by Richard Lewis 2016

Klepzig Mill – The Artist’s Landscape

If the Kelpzigs were artists it would explain why they built their little saw mill where they did. Located just down stream from a series of rock outcroppings, it is almost impossible to find a bad composition from those rocks. Here are three of the many nice photographs I made of Kelpzig Mill.

Evening Light On Klepzig Mill Missouri Ozarks by Richard Lewis

Evening Light On Klepzig Mill by Richard Lewis 2016

Klepzig Mill Missouri Ozarks by Richard Lewis

An Impressionist’s View of Klepzig Mill by Richard Lewis 2016

A View Of Klepzig Mill by Richard Lewis  Missouri Ozarks

A View Of Klepzig Mill by Richard Lewis 2016

Falling Springs Mill – The Abandoned

It’s always a treat and a challenge to mix landscape and abandonment photography. Falling Springs Mill and its surrounding cabins fit the bill perfectly.

Fallings Springs Mill by Richard Lewis

Falling Springs Mill by Richard Lewis 2016

Falling Springs Mill Interior Ozark Mountains Missouri by Richard Lewis

Falling Springs Mill Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

A Cabin With A View by Richard Lewis

A Cabin With A View by Richard Lewis 2016

There is a lot more to see and share of the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. Stay tuned.

Enjoy!

 

The Cycling Photographer on the Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

Sunset In Philadelphia

An evening on the Ben Franklin Bridge

What makes South Jersey an interesting and unique place to live is that you are close to the wilderness forests of the New Jersey Pinelands and the City of Philadelphia. One can enjoy both city and country life without traveling very far.

There is a pedestrian walkway on the Ben Franklin Bridge that spans the Delaware River and connects Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Camden, New Jersey. I had known about this walkway, but never gave it much thought. Then I saw photographs from the walkway taken by a few photographers I know. When it looked like a nice sunset was on the way, I headed over there to see what would happen.

The pedestrian walkway on the Ben Franklin Bridge is sort of a world unto itself…at least it felt that way. This world is populated by “movers” who are running, cycling, and walking to exercise or get somewhere, and “lingerers” who are taking pictures or just admiring a stunning view of the Philadelphia skyline. While setting up my camera I met a fellow lingerer from Germany who was taking in one last American sunset before heading home the next day.

The sunset did not disappoint either of us. I stayed until dusk to see the city light up.

Philadelphia In The Early Evening by Richard Lewis

Philadelphia In The Early Evening by Richard Lewis 2016

Philadelphia Sunset 2 Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

Philadelphia Sunset 2 by Richard Lewis 2016

Philadelphia Skyline At Dusk Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

Philadelphia Skyline At Dusk by Richard Lewis 2016

Philadelphia Sunset 3 Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

Philadelphia Sunset 3 by Richard Lewis 2016

Philadelphia Evening Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

Philadelphia Evening by Richard Lewis 2016

As much as I like the above photographs, the one below is my favorite of the evening. This was the last location along the walkway I photographed. I shared the spot with a young photographer who rode his bike there. A cyclist and photographer? What’s not to like about this guy? This spot turned out to be a great place to just be with the bridge for a while. All of those lines and colors made you forget about the cities this bridge connects and provided a cozy little spot to create.

The Cycling Photographer on the Ben Franklin Bridge by Richard Lewis

The Cycling Photographer by Richard Lewis 2016

Technical note about the above photograph: This is actually a composite of two images. The towers of the bridge are lit with blinking red and blue lights. While the photographer was taking his shot, the bridge tower was between flashes and unlit. I made a second exposure with the tower lit and blended the two together in Photoshop.

General technical notes: All of these images were made using a tripod, however photographing on a bridge is challenging because the bridge tends to shake as vehicles move across it. It was tricky to keep the shutter speed fast enough to prevent a blurry image from camera shake, but still not have to set the ISO too high. All but the last photograph were made at either ISO 400 or 800 (normally I shoot landscapes at ISO 100 or 200). I tried to keep the shutter speed to around 1/30 or even 1/15 of a second with an f stop of 11 to 16 to provide the depth of field needed. One thing I tried to master was predicting when the bridge was going to shake the most based this on the sound of the traffic. Despite this, about half of the images I shot were blurry. This is why it’s good to take a lot of images.

me-on-bfbCaught In The Act

Nice sunsets and city skylines attract the attention of photographers. Apparently while I was on the bridge, Dante Fratto, a fellow South Jersey photographer whose work inspired me to take these photographs, was on the Camden, New Jersey waterfront photographing the sunset from that vantage point. He snapped this photo of me. I’m the one closest to the camera and tripod.

Enjoy

 

Collapsed Cabin Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Remembering Cejwin Camps

A Remnant of Personal History

We recently visited what is left of Cejwin Camps in Port Jervis, New York. The camp was founded in 1918 to provide a summer in nature and fresh air for New York City’s Jewish children. The camp, like all summer camps, provided an opportunity for kids to bond, have fun, and maybe learn something they could take into adulthood that would be useful. Its location in rural New York, just 90 minutes from Manhattan, allowed Cejwin to thrive and open seven camps to serve around 1000 kids.

Until recent generations, parents thought it was important for their kids to spend time outdoors in the natural world. That has changed along with what people choose to do with their summers. Cejwin fell victim to those changes and closed its doors in the 1990’s. After Cejwin, a Christian group took over and established a camp there for a few years. Now most of the camp property is being developed into housing. When we were there, only one of the boys camps, Aviv, was accessible.

This photo shoot was very personal. My wife spent 10 years at Cejwin Camps as a kid and has many happy memories. I’ve seen old black and white photos of her as a goofy, giggly teenager fooling around with her bunk mates. These somewhat out of focus antics of a bunch of 14 year-olds document experiences that helped shape the mature and intelligent person my wife is today. This place is so much a part of her past that being at Cejwin and photographing what remains of it was quite a powerful experience for both of us.

The Cabins

These simple structures were full of children being children. My wife has many fond memories of what camp professionals would call “Cabin Life.” She remembers activities at camp, but really remembers what happened in these little buildings where, as she has said, she could just be herself.

Cabin By The Lake at Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Cabin By The Lake by Richard Lewis 2016

Remains of Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Remains of Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis 2016

Collapsed Cabin Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Collapsed Cabin by Richard Lewis 2016

Cabin Interior by Richard Lewis

Cabin Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

Staff Cabin At Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Staff Cabin At Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis 2016

Camp Activities

The goal of Cejwin Camps was to expose Jewish children to nature, healthy activities and each other. What remains at the Aviv sub-camp are the wood shop, the basketball courts and the waterfront which was a haven on hot days. The camp offered a lot of other activities too, but none of that is evident anymore.

Social Hall at Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Wood Shop Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

Cejwin Waterfront by Ricard Lewis

Cejwin Waterfront by Richard Lewis 2016

Basketball Courts at Cejwin Camps by Ricard Lewis

Basketball Courts at Cejwin Camps by Richard Lewis 2016

What Happened After Cejwin Camps

After Cejwin Camps closed in the 1990’s a Christian organization took over and ran a camp there for a few years. Some of the religious decorations remain on the buildings although most of the camp is run down and full of debris where buildings have been torn down. There is another section where the cabins were fairly well maintained that was fenced off, so we did not photograph there.

Christian Camp at Cejwin by Richard Lewis

Christian Camp by Richard Lewis 2016

Cejwin Camp Panorama by Richard Lewis

Cejwin Camps Panorama by Richard Lewis 2016

Social Hall at Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Aviv-Aviva-Chavurah Wood Shop at Cejwin Camps by Richard Lewis 2016

Collapsed Cabin Interior at Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Collapsed Cabin Interior by Richard Lewis 2016

Remnants of Cejwin

Not much is left that distinguishes Cejwin Camps’ Jewish identity. Hebrew letters on the side of a building that may have been a canteen, some pre-1990 graffiti inside some of the buildings, and a worktable marked Aviv Shop.

Cejwin Camp Remanent by Richard Lewis

Cejwin Camps Remnant by Richard Lewis 2016

Aviv Shop Table at Cejwin Camp by Richard Lewis

Aviv Shop Table by Richard Lewis 2016

These may very well be the last photographs made of Cejwin before it is totally gone. The rustic cabins and buildings are far from architectural gems and are probably not worth preserving. But it’s not the buildings that are important, it is what happened inside of them that matters. These photographs hopefully will help preserve experiences that are cherished by many of the campers who spent time here.

I know this post is being shared among Cejwin Camps’ alumni group. If you attended this camp, please leave a comment below with thoughts and memories of your time at camp. Help us show what these dilapidated buildings meant when they were structurally sound and full of children.

See more photographs of Cejwin Camps on my website.

Enjoy

 

Misty Forest in the Delware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

One Morning In The Delaware Water Gap

An aimless pursuit of beauty.

What do you do when a day of scouting for photography locations doesn’t yield anything? That happened recently on a trip to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We spent the afternoon hiking the Cliff and other trails to check out overlooks and waterfalls. My plan was to find the best ones and spend the next few mornings photographing them.

Nine miles of hiking didn’t yield much. The overlooks weren’t what I expected and the recent lack of rain had the waterfalls running at a trickle. With nothing to plan for, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. At 5:30am I started driving around to find a photograph, somewhere. It didn’t take long to realize why I don’t do this anymore. Not knowing where to go or what you are looking for can be quite frustrating. Here I am in the beautiful Delaware Water Gap and nothing beautiful is making itself known.

Then I saw the mist. It was coming from a small lake. Then I saw the kayak. Some guy was enjoying the morning fishing and could not have been more cooperative if I had radio communication and told him where to go and how to pose.

Misty Morning in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Misty Morning in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis 2016

Shortly after leaving the lake, a glimpse of light caught my eye deep in a dense pine forest. I wandered over to find beautiful opening in the forest with a light mist providing a glow to everything.

Misty Forest in the Delware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Misty Forest 1 by Richard Lewis 2016

Reclaiming The Trees in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Reclaiming The Trees by Richard Lewis 2016

Forest Carpet in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Forest Carpet by Richard Lewis 2016

Misty Forest 2 in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Misty Forest 2 by Richard Lewis 2016

As if this wasn’t enough, while heading back to the hotel I turned down a gravel road just to see what was there. A break in the forest framed by two well placed trees made for another photo opportunity.

Quiet Forest Road in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis

Quiet Forest Road in the Delaware Water Gap by Richard Lewis 2016

I normally like to plan out a shoot to maximize the time when the light is at its best. However, sometimes a little randomness and serendipity can lead to special new places.

Enjoy