A Window to Winter | Captured: January 13, 2019 | Location: Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, West Creek, New Jersey
2019 kicked off with an early- to- mid January snowfall, and that is always enough to set my heart alight. I made no photographs at Stafford Forge across all 2018, and with fresh fallen snow I had an opportunity to set a wrong to rights. Despite the cold and the snow, the golden glow beset by pink pastels is warm and inviting. The snow-capped pines flanking the frame call us to the window of a sublime winter wonderland. Stafford Forge continues its reign as a go-to location for outstanding snow shots.
Gradient | Captured: January 15, 2019 | Location: Stafford Municipal Boat Ramp, Cedar Run Dock Road, West Creek, New Jersey
Simple is best, and this photograph cuts to the heart of simplicity. Minimalist in all things, Gradient, relies on basic forms and color to convey juxtaposition. It articulates contrast between the deep blues to the top and bottom surrounding the fiery orange and red glow at the center. Bisecting the image across the horizon is a razor sharp margin to hinge this photograph. Consume this image in all directions, for there is no true top or bottom.
Ice World Ignition | Captured: February 2, 2019 | Location: Rand’s Marina, Great Bay Boulevard, New Jersey
The derelict Rand’s Marina off Great Bay Boulevard is home to a handful of my all time favorite shots. It’s as photogenic as it is strewn with dock remnants and the latter is a primary contributor to the former. Foreground, middle ground, and background never betray the photographer at Rand’s. In snow and ice, however, the drama jumps up a notch. Locked in ice demonstrates the damage rent through years of weather and disuse. It deepens the narrative, and when this profound tableau is cast in glowing rich pink hues the story rings truer inside our soul.
Magnolia Season | Captured: April 13, 2019 | Location: Ocean Acres, Stafford, New Jersey
From the moment I made this photograph back in April it has served as my iPhone background wallpaper. This photograph connected with me straight away. One peep in my viewfinder and I knew this one was going in the “best of” list. The colors, bokeh, and contoured line work traveling in and out of a shallow depth of field take this next level. Looking at the magnolia buds unfurling into beautiful flower blossoms, I had a plan, and I am beyond pleased I was able to execute.
Cast Adrift | Captured: May 3, 2019 | Location: Ocean Acres, Stafford, New Jersey
Now things take a turn. The style I am best known, wide sweeping sunsets, is with certainty not this. Here we keep things weird. I am thrall to the whimsy and form of wisteria blossoms. The small, delicate flower buds ooze with personality. Strung together like a bunch of grapes they make their brief appearance in spring. Captured up close with macro equipment, wisteria moves photography into the abstract. Under magnification at this range, you are hard pressed to know said wisteria blossom is no bigger than the quarter that used to set about your pocket. It is the tiny writ large, backed by bokeh casting strange shadows and tones. There is an eeriness and mood driving the scene, and the focus is soft enough to lend a painted effect. Someday I am going to have this printed large on canvas and it will be glorious.
Hit the Pavement | Captured: May 23, 2019 | Location: Cedar Run Dock Road, West Creek, New Jersey
Get low! Now get lower. To make this photo I splayed out belly down right on Cedar Run Dock Road’s asphalt surface. The township could have painted double yellow lines transverse down my spine. The orientation of the sunset dictated where I went with this shot. All the best action was to the northwest and so I decided to make the road itself the center of attention. It’s fine to bring a different perspective to the table considering I shoot Dock Road more than any other location by far. Of course the salt marsh sunset shots are great, but here I present the human side of the locale. Roads and guardrails, and power lines leading the eye to the homes marking the horizon. Dock Road is such a wonderful space with limitless potential.
Top Down | Captured: June 17, 2019 | Location: Ocean Acres, Stafford, New Jersey
Coming in hot with more abstract macro goodness. Here we look down upon a nascent honeysuckle blossom. Early in its development it gives little clue as to its identity let alone what it is to become. The pollinators dream is the macro photographers dream, and this may be my personal favorite image in this list. The contrast between the green and purple backdropped by shallow depth of field demands the viewer’s attention. The tiny yellow hairs introduce a component of texture begging for touch. I get lost in this photograph, and for my money that is when I know I did my job.
Placid | Captured: June 27, 2019 | Location: Cedar Run Dock Road, West Creek, New Jersey
Take a slow, steady breath in through your nose. Now exhale even and powerful out of the mouth. It should be audible. Repeat two more times. Ahhhhhhhh. Let the parasympathetic nervous system take over, relax a while, and unload some stress. Placid is this breathing and relaxation exercise made visual. It is a stress shedder. The mirror glass reflection of the water balanced against gentle green marsh grasses, topped off with a sunset sky cast in pink and purple intend to unwind the careworn traveler. Sublime and soothing, let your woes find comfort and placid tranquility. A salve for your hurts. Inhale. Exhale.
The Collector | Captured: July 15, 2019 | Location: Ocean Acres, Stafford, New Jersey
Here we have my “mom, maybe someday I can be in National Geographic?” entry into the annual retrospective. Making handheld macros of a small moving subject, such as a bumblebee, is hard work. You are battling camera shake, an indefatigable subject, lens focus, wind, and a whole host of other factors, internal and external. It’s a challenge. But when it all comes together and you get it right, it’s an immediate fist pump kind of moment. (Hey, I am from New Jersey.) I am blessed I nailed this pollinator doing its thing, adding value to the hive. I am honored to have the opportunity to document this essential lynchpin to a vibrant and product ecosystem bettering our planet. Now, about that magazine…
Until Next Season | Captured: August 18, 2019 | Location: Ocean Acres, Stafford, New Jersey
Mood makes the photo, and the mood here is indomitable. A lone black-eyed susan blossom transitioning on toward end of life. Reluctant with unwanted acceptance of its fate. Told through the weight of the photo, the narrative unfolds with the blossom, placed to the right of the frame, pulling away from the light on the left. Turned away from the sun our lone hero moves onward into darkness and unknown. As the sun sets in the western sky so, too, does our blossom prepare its journey below its own horizon in search for new life.
2019 was a year of transition, change, growth, and setback. Through ups and downs and heart-wrenching disruption, photography has remained a constant. A well worn sturdy crutch to lean on through the dark times. It’s the friend who is always there free of judgement, forever willing to accept you for who you are, wherever you are. I was steadier in my practice in 2019, making more high quality photos compared to my low output in 2018. As I close out my eighth year (!) behind the lens and pivot toward 2020, I look forward to putting my dear old crutch to further use. I will again lean on you, old friend.
Thank you all for your time and support for both me and my photography over the years. While I endeavor in this exercise for personal growth and creative expression, I do not have words to express the gratitude knowing there are good folks out there touched by my work. I see you, and I appreciate you all. Thank you with my fullest sincerity. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Cheers, my friends.