Images from the Film Archives – 2001
Spruce Run was one of the many NJ state parks where gates closed off entry until after sunrise, and other arrangements needed to be made in order to get any photographs there at that time of day. By heading about 1/2-mile beyond the entrance, there was a small dirt parking area where you might be able to access the large reservoir that was part of the park. So on a 15-degree morning, I bundled up and headed out onto the ice in search of some design on the surface for some visual interest. After wandering around a while, an area that did not have a coating of snow looked like it might reflect any color in the sky, and I took a position that looked out to where the sun might rise (personal computers were barely out then, much less The Photographer’s Ephemeris). I was a bit concerned with the ice because I was learning that it makes an occasional, unannounced loud groan or cracking sound, which sent shivers through me even more than the cold.
I would come to these spots only in winter because the tangle of bushes right against the shoreline prevented any clear views of the lake. It was only after a long hard freeze that you could get through the tangle and step out onto the ice to get the unobstructed, expansive view. Little by little, I was learning local, as was suggested a few years earlier, of places to go under specific conditions or light.
Another spot right nearby the image at the top, was the entrance of a feeder creek into Spruce Run. I guess the movement of the water kept the immediate area from freezing, and provided a good leading line through the scene to the sunrise horizon.
There were other spots around the lake that were a bit hidden, accessible in summer when the huge flowers of marsh or swamp mallows put on a display, or where the sun would rise in the fall, over some trees on the opposite side of a narrow section of the lake. Little by little, I gained the knowledge of these places, of where to go and when, that made the chances to be photographically lucky, greater.
I suppose it is the same for street photographers. Where the real characters hang out, or where the dramatic lighting is, or some storefront with character resides. Others may photograph couples or families by a specific barn, beach or interesting architecture. Whatever it is that you can add to a photograph through your own experiences and knowledge can only enhance your photography. It’s all about getting out with the camera, and hitting those spots where your creative juices will flow the most, and overflow right into your frame. New places are great to explore, but its the familiar haunts where the most success lies.