The inspiration of a single painting

Night by Richard Lewis

Night by Richard Lewis 2014

Followers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of the 20th century landscape painters from the New Hope, Pennsylvania area known as the Pennsylvania Impressionists. One particular painting John Folinsbee has always stuck with me. In this painting of a New Hope street, the Moon illuminates the sky through the clouds. The painting has a wonderfully eerie and moody glow. I have seen this street hundreds of times, but never like this.

Night by John Folinsbee 1949

Night by John Folinsbee 1949

The painting has had a profound impact on me and inspired an attraction to the late evening and night time hours. Unlike a lot of photographers, I’m not out at night to photograph star trails or the milky way (okay, I’ve done it and it is lots of fun). To me, night is a solemn, mysterious and quiet time. Those things that seem so ordinary during the day take on a completely different feeling at night, like the subjects of this painting or my photograph above.

When you are at a place where people gather in the evening and then step outside, something magical happens. The transition from a place that is well-lit, noisy and warm to the quiet, cool darkness can be like stepping into another world.

For me the photograph shares the feeling of John Folinsbee’s painting. I even gave it the same title. The way the cold moonlight in the clouds mixes with the warm tones of the street lights makes me feel that Mr. Folinsbee would be happy with this tribute to his art.

One more Photograph of the Night

This is another image inspired by the painting above. It was actually made just across the river from the location in the painting.

Lambertville Bridge by Richard Lewis

Lambertville Bridge by Richard Lewis 2012


Forgotten Pine Barrens

New Jersey’s Pinelands Preserve

It is not that the New Jersey wilderness known as the Pinelands is forgotten. It is the photographs posted here that are. I’ve made enough images of this place to have overlooked a few, so here they are.

Morning in the Cedars by Richard Lewis

Morning in the Cedars by Richard Lewis 2014

Along the Mullica River by Richard Lewis

Along the Mullica River by Richard Lewis 2014

Intimate Cedar Landscape by Richard Lewis

Intimate Cedar Landscape by Richard Lewis 2014

Maple Swamp by Richard Lewis

Maple Swamp by Richard Lewis 2014

Evening on Chatsworth Lake by Richard lewis

Evening on Chatsworth Lake by Richard lewis 2014


Frozen Morning by Richard Lewis

Frozen Morning by Richard Lewis 2013

I hope you found my little memory lapse worth a look.


Under A Jersey Sky

Cloud Watching in the New Jersey Pine Barrens

I have always been fascinated by clouds. As a kid I would stare at them and my imagination would run wild with images inspired by the cloud formations. My fascination has continued into adulthood where it never ceases to amaze me how clouds affect the quality of light, the color in the sky and ultimately the mood of the day.

I recently went for an evening hike at the Franklin Parker Preserve in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. With rain in the forecast for the next day, the sky was becoming overcast. As the sun started to set, I was treated to quite a show as the clouds changed from the soft pastel colors of what I call a “Watercolor Sky” to deep oranges and yellows mixed with gray as dusk fell.

Under A Watercolor Sky by Richard Lewis

Under A Watercolor Sky by Richard Lewis 2015

Sunset In the Bogs by Richard Lewis

Sunset In the Bogs by Richard Lewis 2015

Dusk in the Swamp by Richard Lewis

Dusk in the Swamp by Richard Lewis 2015

Before I start quoting that Joni Mitchell song about clouds, I’ll end this post with the hope that you enjoyed a little taste of our New Jersey Pine Barrens sky. Take some time to look up at the sky where you live and let me know what you see.



Mood Making

Making a Photograph Fit the Mood

A Glimpse Of The Late Winter Landscape by Richard Lewis

A Glimpse Of The Late Winter Landscape by Richard Lewis 2015

Recently my wife and I jumped the gun on spring when we set out to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. The trail was very icy and when we reached an overlook called Pulpit Rock, the wind became unbearable. We ate our lunch sheltered in some rocks and decided to bag the rest of the hike and head back.

In spite of the ice and wind, I was fascinated by the winter landscape and the dark, ominous sky. I had to set up my camera and take this photograph. The sky wasn’t really this dark and foreboding, but this edited image fits the mood, and the memory of that hike.



Winter Hike In Harriman State Park

How to Get a Whole New Perspective on Photography

Near Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park

Near Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

Storm on Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis

Storm on Pine Meadow Lake by Richard Lewis 2015

The ease of using digital cameras and modern travel are allowing more people to go to the great places and create beautiful landscape images. As a result, there are now an overwhelming number of great landscape photographs.

The problem… it’s becoming harder to distinguish the work of one photographer from another. I’ve seen places like  Zabriskie Point in Death Valley at sunrise packed with photographers lined up to create the same photograph. How does one differentiate from the crowd? The solution is to make the photograph no one else is making. It means seeing differently. That might mean finding places no one else is going or photographing the popular places in a completely different way.

I pondered this recently during a hike in Harriman State Park in New York. While slogging through the snow and admiring the wonderful winter landscape this what was going through my mind.

  1. Photographic quantity is not the goal. Scout out an area and find the best photograph to create. Spend the time needed to make it great.
  2. Dwell on composition–a lot. Don’t just photograph a pretty scene, find the lines and form that make the structure of that scene wonderful.
  3. Go where no one else is. The hike to Pine Meadow Lake on a nice day is very popular and relatively easy. Even with 2 feet of snow on the ground I was surprised to see a fair number of hearty hikers, but I was the only one doing serious photography.
  4. Shoot in adverse weather. Snow was falling during most of the hike. I made the second photograph when the snowfall was heavy which created an interesting natural texture across the lake.
  5. Think about how you will process the image as you are creating it. Having an idea of what the final image will look like helps you frame and compose the original to create a better photograph.
  6. Look at the whole image. The masters will tell you to pay attention to the corners of the view finder, not just the center. On a cold and windy day it is natural to work quickly, but speed can cause you to neglect looking at the entire image and not take the time to compose something that works well and is free of distracting elements.

We are living in a time when a million photographs are taken each day. It has never been easier to create a good one and never been harder to create a unique one.


Please leave a comment about what you love about photography.

The Joy of Sharing

Teaching iPhoneography 

The End Of A Winter Day by Richard Lewis

The End Of A Winter Day by Richard Lewis 2015

I recently taught my first workshop on iPhoneography as part of the South Jersey Camera Club’s monthly workshop series. It was a great experience mainly due to the interesting people who participated.

It’s fun to work with people who really think about photography. There were great discussions about how innovations like iPhoneography will change photography and start to blur the lines between photographic art and other forms or art. I left the class inspired. Later that day I came across this stand of trees during a snow storm and inspired by the class, I produced this image.

I think iPhoneography is in the same state of “newness” as digital photography was 10 to 15 years ago. It is not quite accepted, but not easily ignored either. As time passes, artistic images from phones will start to become more mainstream. Will this mean the end of the “traditional” digital camera with interchangeable lenses? Who knows? I remember the photography pundits writing off digital photography years ago. Now try to buy a roll of Kodachrome film or a camera to put it in.


The Stuff We Leave Behind

Thoughts on the Old and Abandoned Landscape

An Old White Truck With Complimentary Colors by Richard Lewis

An Old Truck With Complementary Colors by Richard Lewis 2015

Left in the Desert by Richard Lewis

Left in the Desert by Richard Lewis 2015

Old cars and trucks rusting in fields are common place in the American landscape. Some photographers find an eerie sort of beauty in them, myself included. Photographing old and abandoned things is relatively new for me and I recently came to a conclusion as to why.

Photography can be more than an interesting picture. A photograph can help derive meaning. While these abandoned vehicles become a strange thing of beauty when combined with their environment, there is more to it.

“Things are transitory, but nature is eternal” could be a caption for either of these photographs. Substitute “Life” for the word “Things” and it gets you thinking. Humans don’t last forever and we all leave stuff behind after we are gone. Not just our possessions, or these rusty vehicles, we also leave behind the results of our deeds and actions which can have a lasting impact on our families, communities and even beyond. This is something to consider while creating our legacies. What do you want to leave behind?

Thought-provoking? This is one reason why I really love photography.