Images from the Film Archives — 1993 and 1998
As mentioned in a previous TBT, Island Beach State Park was a frequent destination because it provided an environment that, for the most part, was left alone to exist without any interference from the human population. At most, beyond the built up areas for summer bathers near the entrance, the rest of the main road through the 10-mile long barrier island was dotted with only an occasional small pullout for a few cars, and a trail through the dunes to the ocean, with many missing any other improvements.
It was a bald sky that sent me inland among the dunes in search of something other than the surf to photograph, and although the dunes were beautiful, there was a lot of chaos among them that interfered with a simple statement in an image. I finally did find a spot with fox tracks leading in a curving line between two dunes that seemed to satisfy my search for a clean image with something to say. The idea that the island was home to a varied population of wildlife, was illustrated by the tracks, and the otherwise pristine dunes showed their beauty if left alone. The side-lighting across the sand added some texture, and I was careful not to walk too far into the scene for fear of ruining the foreground prints; the same thing faced when photographing snow.
On a separate visit during autumn, without the need to enter disguised as a fisherman, I visited in the afternoon to explore some dunes near the very end of the island, but on the bay side instead of the ocean. I found some beautiful color on some Virginia Creeper that draped the top of a sand dune, and struggled to eliminate the sun that was near the horizon from intruding into the frame. But without any side-lighting, the sand appeared as a nearly uniform plane of white rather than the individual grains illustrated in the first photo. For some reason though, this photo always brought up thoughts of the Fourth of July, with the red, white and blue of the tiny berries.