Burning Mist in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Sunrise In The New Jersey Pinelands

Lessons from the Shenandoah National Park

I recently posted about hiking to the top Hawksbill Mountain in Shenandoah National Park to photograph what turned out to be a beautiful sunrise from the summit. Being on the top of that mountain taught me to experience sunrises and sunsets in a different way. I’ve always looked for that decisive moment when the light is at it’s peak. Now I realize that a sunrise is a story that starts at first light and ends when the dawn colors fade. Sunsets are the same, just in the opposite direction.

This realization really came home recently when I went to photograph the sunrise in the New Jersey Pinelands. This sunrise was a story of light and weather that I was able to witness as the sun rose just before a storm front moved in.

When you go out to photograph a sunrise, it is usually impossible to predict what will happen. It’s something I fret over before heading out, especially on a warm muggy morning. After hiking to a location then standing around swatting mosquitos while pointing a camera at the brightening sky, you hope to get something out of it.

Early Twilight

On this morning there was no disappointment. I saw a predicted storm front coming in from the north and hoped to get a window of nice light before the clouds covered the sky completely. The photograph below was made with the camera facing north, away from where the sun was going to rise.

Storm Light Before The Dawn by Richard Lewis 2016

Approaching Storm Before Dawn by Richard Lewis 2016 @5:51am

Fortunately, the front moved in slowly which allowed for some beautiful light as the sun rose over the Franklin Parker Preserve, one of the gems, in the New Jersey Pinelands. The following is the progression of light from just before sunrise to the point where the clouds finally started to overtake the rising sun. The time each photograph was made has been added to the caption.

Before The Dawn inthe Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Just Before Sunrise by Richard Lewis 2016 @6:01am

Sunrise In The Franklin Parker Preserve by Richard Lewis

Sunrise In The Franklin Parker Preserve by Richard Lewis 2016 @6:04am

What really caught my eye during the sunrise were the colors and how the mist on the lake glowed bright red for a brief time.

Burning Mist in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Burning Mist by Richard Lewis 2016 @6:14am

Just Another Jersey Sunrise in the Pinelands by Richard Lewis

Just Another Jersey Sunrise by Richard Lewis 2016 @6:17am

As you can see in this last photograph, the storm clouds caught up with the sun making a complete change in the color of the light. This only lasted the briefest of time before the gray clouds completely covered the sun and the rain started.

Storm Front After Dawn in the Pine Barrens by Richard Lewis

Storm Front At Dawn by Richard Lewis 2016 @6:29am

Dawn is a mystical time when night transitions into day. This one was just a brief window where an impending storm left room for a spectacular sunrise. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Enjoy

The Hallway at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Hospital Revisited

I’m not sure why I went back to the old Pennhurst Hospital which is often referred to as the “Shame of Pennsylvania.” The hospital for “feeble-minded children” (from its original name) was built in 1908 and had a long history of being overcrowded, underfunded and understaffed which lead to abuse and neglect of the young residents until it was closed in the 1980’s.

On my first trip to Pennhurst I was searching for the ghosts, remnants of those who were forced to live here. Walking through and recording a place with such a tragic history proved to be a very emotional experience for me. The current owners of the property are capitalizing on its history by staging “Haunted Asylum” events. While this doesn’t do much to dignify the many souls who were unfortunate enough to inhabit this place, it does provide a way to generate much needed income to preserve the buildings. Maybe because of this, I decided to look at Pennhurst as a vehicle to create art as a small way to honor those who were here as patients.

Whether it is a beautiful landscape or the inside of a dilapidated building, the quality of the light is extremely important. It can have more impact on the finished images and the resulting story those images tell than anything else.

The Hallway by Richard Lewis

The Fan by Richard Lewis 2016

The Chair at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

The Chair by Richard Lewis 2016

The Wheelchair at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

The Wheelchair by Richard Lewis 2016

Looking Out From A Dark Room at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

Looking Out From A Dark Place by Richard Lewis 2016

Pennhurst Partitions by Richard Lewis

Partitions by Richard Lewis 2016

Pennhurst's Playground by Richard Lewis

Pennhurst Playground by Richard Lewis 2016

The Hospital at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

The Remains of the Hospital Building at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis 2016

Stacks of Televisions at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

Stacks of Televisions by Richard Lewis 2016

Dark Corner at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

Dark Corner at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis 2016

An Old Barn at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis

An Old Barn at Pennhurst by Richard Lewis 2016

Maybe coming back here to look at these solemn buildings with an artistic eye may do a little bit to heal what happened here. Maybe it will give some recognition to the children and adults who lived here as patients. These people at Pennhurst were victims of a system that didn’t have the time, money or inclination to properly care for them. It’s hard not to feel the sadness that pervades this place.

Enjoy

 

Shenandoah National Park Sunset by Richard Lewis

Shenandoah National Park

Happy 100th Anniversary to the National Parks

The US National Park system may be the best thing our government has ever done. Preserving some of our best American landscapes has been going on for a hundred years.  In spite of some parks being overcrowded with visitors, having an overworked National Park Service staff, and many other challenges, the beautiful landscapes remain relatively unchanged since they have become parks.

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is not as grand as parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, but still matches them in beauty. Those Virginia mountains are lush and full of history. One of the trails we hiked was originally a road that Stonewall Jackson, a famous confederate general, used to march his troops into battle during the American Civil War. It was an incredible feeling to be on a trail that was over 200 years old and full of history.

The main reason I love Shenandoah National Park is that it makes you work for its beauty. In many of the big western parks, the best views and features are only a short distance from a parking lot. Times with the best light will find crowds of photographers lining up to shoot the same photograph. Not in Shenandoah. While there are overlooks on the Skyline Drive that yield some great views, the true beauty of this National Park only reveals itself to those who are willing to hike to the tops of its mountains or down into its deep valleys and hollows.

Being able to venture into the back country allows a photographer to uniquely experience and understand nature. Plus, it gives you access to the places fewer people go, with even fewer photographing them. When I photographed a stunning sunrise from the top of Hawksbill Mountain, it was a special experience that was mine alone because I was the only person on top of that 4050 foot high mountain.

Shenandoah Mountain Views

Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016

An Evening View in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

An Evening View by Richard Lewis 2016

Wild Flowers on a Summit in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewi

Wild Flowers on a Summit by Richard Lewis 2016

Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Breaking Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016

Big Meadows

This is one of those beautiful areas of Shenandoah National Park where a short walk will yield a lot. However, a longer walk yields even more. Big Meadows is exactly what it says it is, a large open meadow on the top of a mountain. It is an unusual break in the forest landscape where deer, bears and other critters come to dine and play.

Big Meadows in Shenandoah National ParkOn A Windy Morning by Richard Lewis

Big Meadows On A Windy Morning by Richard Lewis 2016

Quiet Dawn in Big Meadows Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis'

Quiet Dawn and Grazing Deer in Big Meadows by Richard Lewis 2016

Big Meadows Morning Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Big Meadows Morning by Richard Lewis 2016

Shenandoah Valleys and Waterfalls

One literally cool thing about Shenandoah National Park are the valleys and hollows with waterfalls of all kinds. It’s a great place to go to get out of the summer heat. One big trade off in hiking down into a valley is that you have to hike back up again.

Dark Hollow Falls Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Dark Hollow Falls Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Near Dark Hollow Falls Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Near Dark Hollow Falls by Richard Lewis 2016

Doyles River Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Doyles River Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Doyles River Falls Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Doyles River Falls by Richard Lewis 2016

Shenandoah Light

The beautiful light in Shenandoah National Park may not be the result of it’s landscape, but it does provides some stunning scenery to experience that light.

Daybreak in the Shenandoah Valley by Richard Lewis

Daybreak in the Shenandoah Valley by Richard Lewis 2016

Pastel Sunrise in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Pastel Sunrise in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016

Shenandoah National Park Sunset by Richard Lewis

Shenandoah Sunset by Richard Lewis 2016

Soft Evening Palette in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Soft Evening Palette by Richard Lewis 2016

Morning Light on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewi

Morning Light on Old Rag Mountain by Richard Lewis 2016

The beauty and diversity of our American landscape never ceases to amaze me. It is good to know that our National Park Service is still going strong preserving and providing access to some of the most amazing places. Happy 100th NPS!

Enjoy

Click here to see more landscape photographs from National Parks and other places. 

 

Sunrise Through Hawksbill Mountain Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Shenandoah National Park Sunrise

Why wake up at 4am to hike up a mountain?

One of the things I love about being a photographer, and a hiker, is the challenge to find unique places to experience nature at its best. In Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park that meant hiking up a mountain in the dark before the sun came up.

On a beautiful afternoon my wife and I hiked up Hawksbill Mountain, the highest mountain in Shenandoah National Park, and loved the view. We were doing a whirlwind tour of summit hikes that day with Hawksbill being the favorite of the day. The rocky outcropping and the panoramic views on top of that mountain seemed like the perfect place to photograph the sunrise.

In early July, the sun rises at about 5:45am in Virginia. The easiest trail to the top of Hawksbill Mountain is only about a mile, but relatively steep, gaining about 750 feet in elevation in that short distance.

At 4:00am the next morning, I slipped out of our hotel room with the hope of being on top of Hawksbill Mountain by 5:15am. After our hike the day before we had seen a Black Bear with her cub a short distance form the trail head which was a little disconcerting. The last place I wanted to be was between a black bear cub and its mother in the dark. They are black bears after all. Hiking with a headlamp on would be important to not just see where I was going but also to let any bears know that I was coming. Just to be safe, I played an audio book out loud on my phone on the way up the trail. If they didn’t see me, hopefully they would hear me.

When I left the hotel, I could see that the sky was partly cloudy–a good sign for a great sunrise. One can never be sure what will happen when you get to a location. I’ve hiked miles in the dark only to see a mediocre sunrise or to have it completely obscured by clouds. When I made it to the summit of Hawksbill Mountain, it was very windy and first light was breaking. I could see that something special was going to happen. From the moment I got there until the beautiful dawn colors started to fade, I was treated to a show that was full of jaw dropping beauty.

The following photographs show that beautiful Shenandoah sunrise on top of Hawksbill Mountain. Note the times of each photograph was made in the caption.

First Light on Hawksbill Mountain Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

First Light on Hawksbill Mountain by Richard Lewis 2016 @ 5:09am

First Light in the Shenandoah Valley Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewi

First Light in the Shenandoah Valley by Richard Lewis 2016 @ 5:19am

Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016

Breaking Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Early Dawn in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016 @5:46am

Sunrise in Shenandoah National Park on Hawksbill Mountain by Richard Lewis

Dawn’s Colors in Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis 2016 @5:50am

Sunrise Through Hawksbill Mountain Shenandoah National Park by Richard Lewis

Sunrise Through Hawksbill Mountain by Richard Lewis 2016 @5:54am

Dawn's Aftermath in Shenandoah National Park Hawksbill Mountain by Richard Lewis

Dawn’s Aftermath by Richard Lewis 2016 @5:57am

We spent an amazing week in Shenandoah National Park. There are more photographs to share. Stay tuned.

Enjoy

Riley's Room in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Yellow Dog Village

If this post doesn’t make you cry I’m not doing my job

Yellow Dog Village is an odd name for a town, but it is sort of an odd town. In the early 20th century when miners and mine owners battled each other over wages and working conditions, this town was a place of harmony between workers and management.

Yellow Dog Village came into being because of an agreement between the owners of a limestone mine in western Pennsylvania and its employees. The company agreed to build a town for its workers if the workers agreed not to unionize. This is known as a “Yellow Dog” contract, hence the name of the town. In addition to just building the town, the company went farther by increasing salaries and providing living standards that allowed their workers to live a pretty good life by mining standards.

This relationship worked well until the mine ran out of limestone and closed. The town remained and while some families stayed, the population of Yellow Dog Village dwindled until the final blow happened. Plumbing and sewage problems along with the housing market collapse in 2008 forced the remaining  residents to abandon these now worthless homes and leave behind many of their possessions.

These possessions remain in many of the homes telling a sad tale of economically dispossessed families. Although there are worse situations in the world, the abandoned houses of Yellow Dog Village and their contents tell a story of modern day economic refugees.

What attracted my attentions immediately was the remnants of the children. Scattered toys, children’s clothes and their personalized bedrooms are the saddest remains of the families who made a life here.

The Houses

The simple early 20th century architecture of Yellow Dog Village is common all over this part of Pennsylvania. Driving through small towns in the area, I saw the identical houses, except that these homes are abandoned, neglected and vandalized.

View from Number 28 Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

View from Number 28 by Richard Lewis 2016

Yellow Dog Village Streetscape 1 by Richard Lewis

Yellow Dog Village Streetscape 1 by Richard Lewis 2016

Yellow Dog Village Streetscape 2 by Richard Lewis

Yellow Dog Village Streetscape 2 by Richard Lewis 2016

The Side Door in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

The Side Door by Richard Lewis 2016

The Yellow Dog Village House by Richard Lewis

The Yellow House by Richard Lewis 2016

View From The Porch in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

View From The Porch by Richard Lewis 2016

Look Out Any Window in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Look Out Any Window by Richard Lewis 2016

The Interiors

The individually decorated houses are now deteriorating as moisture and weather cause uniquely painted and wall papered rooms to peel and crumble

The Purple Room in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewi

The Purple Room by Richard Lewis 2016

Home Comforts in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Home Comforts by Richard Lewis 2016

The Stuff They Leave Behind in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

The Stuff They Leave Behind by Richard Lewis 2016

The Kitchen in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

The Kitchen by Richard Lewis 2016

A Messy Attic in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

A Messy Attic by Richard Lewis 2016

Once A Nice Room in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Once A Nice Room by Richard Lewis 2016

The Kids

Children are the saddest victims of any disaster, natural, man-made or economic. The remains of Yellow Dog Village tell the story of the kids whoses families called this place home. The scattered toys, and personalized rooms were tough to look at as I was framing these photographs. Note: This is the crying part. 

Riley's Room in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Riley’s Room by Richard Lewis 2016

Instructions for Keeping Your Room Clean in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

Instructions for Keeping Your Room Clean by Richard Lewis 2016

A Young Girl's Room in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

A Young Girl’s Room by Richard Lewis 2016

My Favorite Jeans Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

My Favorite Jeans by Richard Lewis 2016

The Pink Dresser in Yellow Dog Village by Richard Lewis

The Pink Dresser by Richard Lewis 2016

A New Life for Yellow Dog Village?

Several years ago, a retired history teacher was enchanted by this town and decided to buy it. He has a vision for Yellow Dog Village to be reborn as Limestone Village and populated by artisans who will restore these homes to live in and teach their craft during weekend and week- long programs. It’s a lofty goal, but the beginnings of this vision is starting to take shape. I hope to return to Yellow Dog Village some day soon to find a different place.

Enjoy!

 

Reflecting The Afterglow in Batsto by Richard Lewis

An Evening in Batsto Village

Batsto Village is a preserved historic iron works in the middle of the New Jersey Pinelands. In the 18th and early 19th centuries it was a major industry and even played an important roll in the American Revolution.

I wanted to photograph a moonrise at Batsto Village, but right after arriving it became obvious that it wasn’t going to work out. There were just too many trees and no place to get a good composition. So I decided to scout out a place suitable for other photographs. I’ve recently spent time studying composition and have just finished a workshop on advanced color theory. Why not put some of this new knowledge to use?

While wandering around the village, I realized that my definition of landscape photography has changed over the last few years. Landscapes don’t need to be all natural, back country places. I found my landscape sensibilities come into play no matter what my camera is pointed at.

The Benches

Hanging on a wall in my home is a still life with a simple, weathered, wooden bench. It is a beautiful painting by a Bucks County artist named Gene McInnerney.  This was my inspiration for the next photo. The color of the red bricks were toned down in order to let the bench be the main subject. There is also a nice leading line above the bench that allows the eye to wander over to it from the textured wall on the left.

Batsto Bench by Richard Lewis

Batsto Bench by Richard Lewis 2016

Benches must have caught my eye that evening because here are some more. While focusing on the bench in the foreground, I realized that the porch actually framed a nice little scene in the distance. Plus, the green tree provided a nice color contrast. I moved the camera in order to close up the spaces between the porch posts thereby creating the right side of the frame.

Batsto Porch Frame by Richard Lewis

Porch Frame by Richard Lewis 2016

The Blue Door

Next I found this nice weathered blue door. Using Photoshop, I brought out the color saturation on this door just a little bit. I like this scene because it has a distinct “English Cottage” feel to it. The original inhabitants of Batsto Village came from England.

The Blue Door at Batsto by Richard Lewis

The Blue Door by Richard Lewis 2016

If You Can’t Have a Moon, Go for the Sunset

I have about 50 photographs of the changing skies as the sun set. There is a nice lake on this site that would have been an excellent place to frame the beautiful sky, but I thought the subdued colors of this old Post Office worked well with the bright colors in the sky.

Batsto at Sunset by Richard Lewis

Batsto At Sunset by Richard Lewis 2016

I noticed how beautifully disruptive the sunset reflecting in the two windows of this old sawmill looked. It wasn’t easy to turn the camera from a colorful sky in order to capture this, but I’m glad I did.

Reflecting The Afterglow in Batsto by Richard Lewis

Reflecting The Afterglow by Richard Lewis 2016

The Moon

While walking back to the car, I noticed the moon peeking through the trees. It was almost too dark to get a good photograph, but hey, I came to to photograph the moon so why not.

Batsto Full Moon In The Trees by Richard Lewis

Full Moon In The Trees by Richard Lewis 2016

On any nice weekend, you will find that Batsto is crawling with visitors who hike, bike, paddle or just wander around and immerse themselves in some Pinelands history. On a quiet Monday evening, I pretty much had the place to myself. There is much more to share here so I’ll be heading back soon.

Enjoy

View Towards The Kitchen by Richard Lewis

Old House Devastation

There is a historical marker outside of this house indicating that it was once a school. There is no evidence of a classroom inside, but there are the remains of a playground. After spending time photographing abandoned homes I can say that this one is pretty sad and a bit scary. The house is completely overgrown and almost required a machete to get to one of the doors.

Abandoned House On A Frosted Morning by Richard Lewis 2016

Abandoned House On A Frosted Morning by Richard Lewis 2016

Abandoned Playground by Richard Lewis

Abandoned Playground by Richard Lewis 2016

Inside was pretty scary because the partially collapsed walls and rotted floors required a great deal of situational awareness. The fact that this simple 19th century farm house is still standing is a testament to how well it was built.

Remains Of A Parlor by Richard Lewis

Remains Of A Parlor by Richard Lewis 2016

View Towards The Kitchen by Richard Lewis

View Towards The Kitchen by Richard Lewis 2016

Unintended Open Air Kitchen by Richard Lewis

Unintended Open Air Kitchen by Richard Lewis 2016

What is interesting in the photograph below are the caulk and spackle on the  counter. This house is probably a little past the need for these things.

Abandoned Dining Room by Richard Lewis

Abandoned Dining Room by Richard Lewis 2016

Old Front Porch by Richard Lewis

Old Front Porch by Richard Lewis 2016

Abandoned buildings are history’s discards bearing witness to changing times and fortunes. Abandoned homes are always the saddest because they were places where people and families lived. Every square inch of this place has a memory created by the occupants of a home that is over 100 years old. Those memories will simply fade as this house succumbs to time and neglect.

Enjoy

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