The heat and humidity have kept us indoors the last few weeks.
The heat and humidity have kept us indoors the last few weeks. But each day has been too much of the "same". Get up, have breakfast, go to work, have lunch, watch Netflix, do it all over again the next day.
I think Bhavna and I had reached the limit. I added three new hikes to our calendar, starting with tonight. We started with the Laport Reserve, a 1.29km trail in East Amwell Township, Hunterdon County. It's the smallest trail we have hiked.
This Sourland trail is a small nondescript loop around private property. The trailhead starts just off the long driveway to a private residence. The first half of the loop is lined with trees on the left and grass and low-lying shrubs on the left. On the second half of the trail loop, we were surrounded by trees.
For this project, photography is the fun easy and emotionally rewarding element. The research and preparation are the boring and unrewarding parts.
I’ve come to realise how much work is involved in planning the Barns, Bridges and Buildings project. I’m familiar with the larger Hunterdon County townships such as West Amwell Township and East Amwell Township that are close to where I live in Montgomery Township. To minimise long driving distances on these small county and township road, I have tried mapping out bridges and historic buildings in the Amwells. However, I am frustrated in my efforts to find useful sources of information at the township level.
I have used the links provided in the post, but the information on the National Register of Historic Places and Bridge Hunter is not organised by townships. This makes shot planning much more challenging. I have clicked on link after link, finding subjects that meet my interest only to discover that it’s an hour away, but wondering what else I can photograph to make the long drive worth it.
I am now compiling a list of townships in Hunterdon County to research what significant or historic bridges, barns and buildings might be found in each. The additional challenge will break that township down further to the unincorporated community. For example, in Montgomery Township, there are several historically significant unincorporated communities: Skillman, Belle Mead, Harlingen, Blawenberg and the borough of Rocky Hill. Two of these unincorporated areas have postal zip codes, but postal codes do now map to township borders. Postal codes are for the convenience of the US Postal Service.
Breaking down East Amwell Township, I found the following areas: Ringoes, Werstville, and Amwell.
Photography is the fun, relaxing and emotionally rewarding element of this project. The research and preparation are the tedious and unrewarding parts.
I have decided that the furthest I will drive is thirty minutes or 25km. Based on mapping data, that puts East Amwell, West Amwell, Lambertville, and the lower end of Flemington into range. There are over a dozen, historically significant unincorporated communities within those limits some of which have just one listed historic property. Google Street view along some of the roadways shows what might be other historic buildings, but Google Maps reveals nothing about those buildings. Searching Google has not proved fruitful.
I want more than just a snapshot of the subject. I will need time to walk around the property, looking for interesting angles and points of view. This is necessary to do onsite, as Google Stree View only shows views from the roadway and only at the time of year the Google Maps car drove the road. I have found interesting bridges only to discover via Google Street View that the roadway on either side of the bridge is narrow, street parking is not allowed, and access to the riverbank is impossible without trespassing on a homeowners property. I don't want any interaction with the local police. I guess it's possible to knock on a door, explain the project and hope the homeowner gives permission. But if they do not, the trip has been wasted.
One of the photographers on the project suggested using this letter to get access to tricky locations.
Hello Hunterdon County Neighbor, My name is Lauren and I am part of a select few photographers that are working on a project for the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce. We are tasked with taking pictures for our project of "Barns, Bridges and Buildings of Hunterdon County". Every photo submitted becomes part of the archive which will be shared with the Hunterdon Historical Society and be featured in an online gallery. Certain selected outstanding photographs will be recognized and the photos published in the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce magazine, “Hunterdon Living” as well as an ebook of selected photos.
Although photos can be taken from public access points such as roads, I would like to obtain your permission to enter your property boundaries in order to take photos from different angles to include ground and aerial perspectives. If you grant permission to allow myself access to your property for this project, can you please fill out the attached form and then contact me so I can follow up with you to arrange pick up of the form and talk with you about and restrictions or concern you may have.
I am unable to guarantee submission of pictures taken on, around, or of your property. However, if a picture is submitted, and selected, I will be happy to provide you a digital copy of the picture selected, along with a limited use and print release form.
Thank you for you're time and consideration of allowing myself access to your property. I am hopeful in being able to include any of your Barns, Buildings and Bridges to this photo project for Hunterdon County.
Very Respectfully, Lauren McCallum-Young My contact information is: Cell: XXX-XXX-XXXX (text or call) Email: XXXXXXXXX
I could modify that to a shorter form that would fit on an index card.
My name is Khürt Williams. I am working on a project for the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce and The Photographers Group. Our goal is to photograph the "Barns, Bridges and Buildings of Hunterdon County" for inclusion into a historical archive. May I have your permission to access your property boundaries in order to take photos from different angles? Cell: 609.865.3380, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I had hoped to the website of the East Amwell Historical Society as a starting point for information, but other than Clawson House, I found no useful information. The website mentioned several historic buildings such as Peacock’s General Store in Wertsville, Van Lieu’s General Store, and a few churches and schools some of which were destroyed, and one which is now a house. I could find no addresses for any of these buildings.
There is so little information available from a Google Search that when I type in Ringoes, New Jersey or Wertsville, New Jersey, I get one Wikipedia link with nothing but links to real estate listings for the remainder of the page. Google Street view for Historic Wertsville is utterly useless. In desperation, I have now taken up skimming through Google Map's Satellite view of East Amwell Township hoping to find that needle in a haystack.
Even though I did not know it at the time, I have driven through Historic Rocktown on way to the Prydes Point Trailhead. Historic Rocktown is a 25-minute drive from my home. I noticed the older looking buildings and country home along Rocktown Mill Road but I found no information regarding what these buildings are/were. There is also no parking on the narrow Rocktown Mill Road making photography challenging.
It has been especially challenging finding barns to photograph. Short of driving aimlessly around Hunterdon County, I have no plan.
The town of Lambertville is just beyond the 25km radius I set for myself. However, it is full of photographic opportunities; assuming I could find an evening or weekend when the streets are empty of visitors and shoppers.
While the project is a worthwhile effort, I think that the time frame is much too short for me to effectively research each town, find buildings, barns, and bridges of interest, plan the shot by the time of day (golden hour, blue hour) I think is appropriate, figure out the how and where to park, scout the location in person, and photograph the subject. In my experience, these types of projects are multiyear endeavours which require multiple visits to the same location.
All of this will limit the scope of what I can accomplish before the July and August deadlines. Am I overthinking this? Is the goal to photograph "recognizable" barns, bridges and building or just photograph whatever you find whether you know what's in the photograph?
Monday afternoon, Bhavna and I hiked the Rocky Brook Trail in East Amwell, New Jersey.
There were times along the trail that I forget to take pictures, especially when I was entranced by the beautiful light filtering through the leaves of the canopy of ash, hickory, birch and maple trees or when we lost ourselves in quiet meditation while gazing at the gurgling water as it meandered around rocks and tree roots. There is so much natural beauty here, the kind of beauty that heals. We lost track of time, hiking, and talking and “being” and not thinking about how the world is on fire.
Today, my friend Chris shared with me a link to David Mathre Backyard Springtime Nature in New Jersey web post. David lives in the area and has spent his time under “shelter-in-place” photographing the wildlife in his backyard. While my backyard faces the woods, it’s fenced off, but I occasionally see foxes, rabbits, and deer. I was especially fascinated by the birds David can photograph at his bird feeder. I have a bird feeder in the tree near my rear deck, but the feeder has a cage to discourage squirrels from eating the bird food. It makes photographing the birds challenging. Chris encouraged me to try sitting as still as possible and waiting for the birds to come to the tree. I had mixed success.
The sun was out, and there was an early summer breeze. Bhavna insisted we make use of the day. She wanted to go hiking. We decided to try a new trail, the Rocky Brook Trail, in East Amwell Township in the Sourland Mountain region of Hunterdon County. Our trailhead started at a section of Rocky Brook near CR 518 just west of Rambling Pines Camp but before Route 31.
The 2 km Rocky Brook trail follows a stone-studded tributary of the Stony Brook on the wooded southern flank of the Sourland Mountain Ridge, sometimes right by the stream and sometimes high above it. Before we left, I had told Bhavna that the trail was short, but it seems I misunderstood the trail map on the Sourland Conservancy. We didn’t realise how long we walked until we got to a fork in the trail where we encountered a man and his dog waiting. We stepped into the brush to be sure to provide two metres for him to get by safely.
Our late afternoon hike was loud and boisterous, filled with the sounds of birds and running water. The air was filled with the sweet odours of green negation. The gentle breezes brought the smells of whatever wildflowers were growing in the brush. We had kid-like fun crossing the Rocky Brook at the Stone Crossing.
While I intended to be fully present, I did stop to take photographs. There were times along the trail that I forget to take pictures, especially when I was entranced by the beautiful light filtering through the leaves of the canopy of ash, hickory, birch and maple trees or when we lost ourselves in quiet meditation while gazing at the gurgling water as it meandered around rocks and tree roots. There is so much natural beauty here, the kind of beauty that heals. We lost track of time, hiking, and talking and “being” and not thinking about how the world is on fire.
We continued until we got to the end of the trail at Snydertown Road. According to the Run Keeper app, we hiked 3.73 km including the round trip back on a portion of the Red Trail.
We discussed whether it would be appropriate to pack a backup with water and snacks, bring in two hiking chairs, and set up on the bank of the forest, and dip our feet into the cold stream water. I think I could do that for hours.