Music In The Pines!

A trip to The Pinelands always brings the unexpected. This area of southern New Jersey is full of stories - from the home of the Jersey Devil to the dumping place for many an enemy of Tony Soprano. Usually for me, the unexpected involves just the natural world - the interplay of light, clouds, water and land in an ever-changing display of color. A friend and I spent a typical Saturday afternoon in the Whites Bog section of The Pinelands. By the end of the day, it became anything but typical. As the day ended, we were treated to mysterious and unexpected music in the Pines…

Music In The Pines!

It was closing in on 6pm and we were about to get the most beautiful light of the day. I couldn’t wait - three hours of hiking and scouting was about to pay off photographically! Except for one thing - the cloud bank that quickly formed on the horizon destroyed any hope of sunset and deep golden light.

After whining for at least twenty minutes, I decided that the photographic part of the day was over. So we packed up and started driving out. I took a slight wrong turn and we were soon lured in by the most unexpected of sounds - heavy metal music! In the Pines! It turns out the band Tallah was shooting a music video for their song, “We, the Sad”. We sat and listened to the loud music in what is usually a very quiet setting. They yelled over to us and asked if we wanted to be in the video, but we knew our hiking boots would make us look out of place and besides, we left our frown face robes at home that day! :) They were very gracious and let me take some photos of my own while they performed and shot the video. It was an incredible thirty minutes to cap the day. Thank goodness the clouds came in or we never would have seen this!

The Band Tallah

I found myself a little surprised. After the band was done with the video we talked to them a little and we watched them wrap up. I assumed I knew what heavy metal band members would be like. Yet they were normal people like you would find anywhere. With one exception - they are artists. They have a message and they communicate it through their music, their art. Some may not like it - just like some don’t like impressionist paintings. But we should respect their skill, their work, and the fact they care enough to communicate. It was eye-opening in a way.

A big thanks to the band Tallah for letting us enjoy their performance. They were just signed by Earache Records and we were told the video shot in the Pinelands for “We, The Sad” would be online at the end of the month. For now, you can listen to the song here (it is extreme metal music - but have an open mind!) And many thanks to Paul Stamper who was producing the video and graciously allowed me to have some fun photographing this very unique event in the Pines! They all treated us well and allowed us to enjoy the evening with them.

Return to Hawk Mountain

It was time to go back. I hadn’t been to Hawk Mountain for a photo-walk in awhile and I had a specific idea in mind. I wanted to create some images with the mountaintop enshrouded in fog and cloud. I kept checking the “cloud ceiling forecast” to see when the cloud conditions would line up with a day off from work - yes, there really is a cloud ceiling forecast website!

Finally, I had my chance… the website said the cloud ceiling would be 600 feet early one Saturday morning - until about 11am. Knowing that the Hawk Mountain trails top out at 1500 feet, I knew I would have the conditions I wanted - as long as I got there early enough. I arrived at 7:15 and had the place to myself for a couple hours of solitude.

It was quiet except for the constant dripping of water from the previous night’s rain. There was no sound of wind in the trees, no sound of people who would come later in the morning. For now, it was quiet, I was alone, and I could concentrate on the feeling I get from a morning on the mountain.

The twisted branch immediately caught my eye. I made fifteen different versions, but liked this one the best - with everything seeming to radiate outward from the center rocks. I never get tired of Hawk Mountain and seem to find something new almost every time I visit.

Early Spring

My favorite time of year by far is Spring. I love to see the buds forming on the bare branches of the trees. In fact, if you are very observant, you will see the buds forming already in February here in the Northeast. But it is in late March and early April that they burst forth in all kinds of color. In many ways, this burst of Spring color rivals the color we see in Autumn.

The image above was from an early April morning just after sunrise. I was drawn initially by the simplicity of the branches with the pop of the red buds on the ends of the branches. The rising sun and cloudy sky reflected on the water behind this tree and the whole scene just said “early spring” to me.

It is now late April and we are racing through a beautiful Spring. The trees have traded their colorful buds for fresh green leaves while still showing the underlying network of branches. I really love that one to two week period where you get equal part leaves and equal part branches. And as we enter May, the branches will gradually disappear from sight until they outlast the leaves one again.

I hope you are all having a great Spring!

Brian ReitenauerComment
Floating Clouds

I was hiking at White’s Bog in the Pinelands on a breezy, early spring Sunday and I suddenly stopped in my tracks.  Bright white clouds racing against a blue spring sky grabbed my attention as they reflected off the still bog water. I had to work quickly since the clouds were moving and changing shape every ten seconds. 

I shot image after image - each one different than the one ten seconds ago, each one a unique natural composition.  Sometimes the water was rippling in the wind, sometimes the clouds were just randomly placed.

It all came together as the clouds formed a circle and floated on the bog water toward some branches and lily pads and into the frame of my camera.

Had I walked by five minutes earlier or five minutes later I might never have stopped.  Most of the sky was clear this spring day and I would simply have seen some sticks poking out of reflected blue water.  But I happened to be there at just the right time - when a small group of clouds put on a show that captured the feeling and lightness of an early spring day in the Pinelands.

Spring has finally arrived!!

More images of The Pinelands available at the following gallery link… The PineLands

Brian ReitenauerComment
A Sedona Sunset

I was in Phoenix for business and I decided to add on three days to explore Sedona for the first time. What makes Sedona a great town to visit gave me challenges for photography.  The town, full of shops, art galleries and restaurants, is nestled right among the red rock cliff walls.  It was challenging to find views and make images that did not include buildings. But once I figured out the orientation of the town and the surrounding red rock canyons, I spent my time deep in the canyons where a sense of wilderness could find me.

I was treated to an incredible sunrise and an equally beautiful sunset on Doe Mountain. I delighted in an overcast afternoon along Oak Creek Canyon walking among the chaos of a thick grove of leafless sycamore trees. And I spent a long day wandering up and over a high mesa top surrounded by even taller canyons.

By the time the trip was nearing its end I realized I had just scratched the surface of Sedona and will need to visit again (and again) to truly capture its beauty.

You can see a small collection of Sedona images at this gallery on my website...  On Location - Sedona.

I thought I would also add two fun pictures.  On the day I hiked to the top of Doe Mountain for sunrise, five hot air balloons rose into the early morning sky.  They came so close to me on the cliff top that I was talking to the people in the basket!  And second, I rented a red Jeep Wrangler 4x4 for the trip.  I took it on two really rough forest roads that were filled with rocks and mud.  I would definitely do that again!

Brian ReitenauerComment
My Favorites of 2018

Another year has come and gone - it seems like time is flying by faster than ever.  I hope 2018 was good for everyone and here's wishing everyone a great 2019!  As I have done in each of the last two years, I am publishing a page of my favorite images from 2018.  Check them out at the link below.

Link to Favorite Images of 2018.

The image that headlines this post is from the Pinelands of New Jersey and it couldn't be more appropriate.  2018 was the "Year of The Pinelands!"  I discovered The Pinelands early in 2018 and went there many times.  Marilyn and I drove our new Jeep Trailhawk through the sand roads and forests.  Rich and I did a six hour kayak trip down the Mullica River.  And Marilyn and I joined the locals for the Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth in the Fall!  :)  Almost half of the images on my favorites page are from The Pinelands!

I didn't do a big National Park photo trip this year due to some changes in plans.  But I revisited some old favorites like Hawk Mountain and Ricketts Glen and was not disappointed.  Six of my favorite images of the year are from these two places that hold special appeal for me.  It shows that even after multiple trips a year for many years, you can always see something new and different.

I told four stories this year.  I like the idea of short "photo stories" where a series of four or six or nine images share what some thing or some place looked and felt like.  I told a story of Winter Morning Light and what the snow looks like before the wind and melting erases it's beauty.  I told a story of walking one magnificent sunrise morning in The Wetlands of the NJ coast.  I shared the quiet beauty of the The Meadow on a late summer afternoon as the light constantly changed - still one of my all-time favorites.  And I led you all on a sunrise walk among the oaks on A California Hillside.  I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Pulling these images together was a nice reminder of the year and it's a good way to look at the trends in my photography - and to learn from them.  Whether I get two or eight or twenty favorites, I I enjoy photography, it helps me see the world around me, and I love being outdoors!

Happy New Year!

Brian ReitenauerComment