Photographing the Long Island Pine Barrens

     Like so many of the world’s natural wonders, the Long Island Pine Barrens is a major source of inspiration for professional and amateur photographers alike.  As the Pine Barrens is a rare and diverse ecosystem, however, the methods to best capture the Pine Barrens by lens are equally as diverse and unique.  The next time you explore the Pine Barrens with camera in hand; take these helpful tips and accompanying examples into consideration to fully realize the photogenic nature of the Long Island Pine Barrens:    

Great South Bay by KCelella

1. Take Photos During the “Golden Hour” or “Blue Hour”
Taking photos during the height of the day can cause glare and overblown final products. For the best results, try to capture nature in the few minutes after sunrise or before sunset (Golden Hour) or when the sun is directly below the horizon (Blue Hour).  This method will not only improve your photos by reducing exposure problems, but by creating a stunning hue in the background of your photo. Both the “gold” and “blue” hues that these times create help produce longer shadows of the landscape’s features and enhance the landscape. To find out the “Golden” and “Blue” hours for Long Island at specific points in the year, try one of the various calculators available online. For “Golden Hour” photographers, please visit: http://www.golden-hour.com/. “Blue Hour” photographers may try http://www.bluehoursite.com/.

Pine Barrens in the Snow by Katie Muether

2. Take Advantage of the Sky as Background
     A nature photographer has one benefit that no other photographer has at his/her disposal: an ever present background. The sky is a perfect candidate for those looking for a good background to their photograph.  Not only do sky photographs look dramatic, but a clear sky allows one to emphasize a photographer’s intended subject matter. To produce the best sky photographs, always keep the “exposure triangle” – shutter speed, ISO and aperture – in mind. Depending on the type of photograph you wish to shoot, consider the location of the sun in the sky. If you want a well exposed photograph, consider shooting with the sun directly behind you.

Ray Corwin Taking a Picture

3. Ground Level is your Friend 
Capture nature from a different perspective by kneeling down and taking photographs from ground level. These low angles will allow your photographs to reach “new heights” in terms of variety and allure. For those wishing to invest in low angle photography, the best option is the use of a “ground pod”, which allows one to place their camera directly on the ground while providing stability to the shot. For ease of use, it is also recommended that one purchases an angled viewfinder that allows photographers to be perfectly aligned at the lowest angles.

4. Look for the Smallest Things
     A creature’s a creature no matter how small.  Related to finding low angles – nature photographers mustn’t forget about the smallest of creatures. These creatures may often times be unknown to the general public and, therefore, subject to a great deal of interest. Nature photography, after all, is not only an art form, but a way to document our environment for the present public and for posterity .  

Eastern Hognose Snake by Bob McGrath

5. Don’t Just Take Pictures for the Sake of It
     Rule number one in nature photography: be patient. Nature will not adjust for your photograph, so you must adjust to it. You never know when you are going to get a great picture. Photographers who go out into nature for the sole reason of taking photographs will not fully enjoy their time. Your first and foremost priority in nature photography must be to experience and enjoy nature. If you find some great photo opportunities along the way, then you should celebrate. In the end, there is no right or wrong way of taking nature photographs as long as the photos capture the essence of the subject landscape or ecosystem.  Just have a great time, and don’t forget to wear appropriate hiking boots and weather-appropriate clothing!