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Moss and Lichen, Sourlands Ecosystem Preserve

This set of images was taken during a spring nature hike hosted by the Sourland Conservancy. I captured these on a Kenko auto-extension tube attached to my AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX. Most of the images are shot at f/8 and I used my Nikon SB-600 Speedlight flash to add some extra lighting.

According to Wikipedia mosses and lichens are quite different.

Mosses are small flowerless plants that typically grow in dense green clumps or mats, often in damp or shady locations. The individual plants are usually composed of simple, one-cell thick leaves, attached to a stem that may be branched or unbranched and has only a limited role in conducting water and nutrients.Moss

Souland Mountain Moss
Souland Mountain Moss

While Lichen:

A lichen is a composite organism that arises from algae or cyanobacteria (or both) living among filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The combined life form has properties that are very different from the properties of its component organisms.Lichen

Souland Mountain Moss
A patch of moss with some lichen.

Unlike most plants, mosses do not have seeds, are non-vascular, and absorb water and nutrients mainly through their leaves, harvesting carbon dioxide and sunlight to create food by photosynthesis (like plants).

Souland Mountain Moss
A patch of moss showing both gametophytes (the low, leaf-like forms) and sporophytes (the tall, stalk-like forms)

Kugler Woods Waterfall

A friend who knows I love the outdoors and photography suggested I visit the Kugler Woods Waterfall near Stockton, New Jersey. It was a great suggestion.

A friend who knows I love the outdoors and photography suggested I visit the Kugler Woods Waterfall in Stockton, New Jersey. I found excellent information on The Outbound website. The waterfall is tiny, but I got some fantastic long-exposure shots on my iPhone 6 (using the Pro Cam app) and Nikon DSLR. I think the flow of water is dependent on the amount of rainfall. I will visit again when the spring rains start.

Kugler Woods Waterfall
Kugler Woods Waterfall | Nikon D5200 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G

The best light is most likely the blue hour at the end of the day. I don't know this for sure, but given that the waterfall faces west, the late evening light will illuminate the water.

Getting close to the water with the lens was challenging. The rocks were slippery from the moisture, which in this case was ice. Did I mention it was cold?

I struggled with the long exposure. I used my AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens for all the images. Because the lens focus ring only works in manual mode, I focused with the lens in auto-mode, locked in the exposure readings, switched the lens to manual, and then carefully attached a ten-stop Hoya Pro 52mm 1000x Neutral Density Filter. I had to do this for every capture. I'm saving up either the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens or the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM FLD AF Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens. I haven't decided which lens to buy. From what I read on Lensrentals, the Tokina has better image quality than the Sigma. But the Sigma is wider.

I started with 30 seconds, but I think 60 seconds worked best for the time of day. I tried doing some long-exposure HDR as well. The images here are all HDR images with exposure times between 2 and 30 seconds. The exposures were combined in Photomatix Pro 5.

Kugler Woods Waterfall
Kugler Woods Waterfall | Nikon D5200 | AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G

Intensive Yellow

On Saturday — before the storm broke — we had a bit of family hiking fun. Bhavna had registered for use to go on a geocaching hike in the Sourland Mountain Preserve as part of a fundraising event planned by the Sourland Planning Council.

We arrived early and were briefed for 30 minutes on the basics of geocaching by Eric Lemon. Eric and his sons are avid geocaches who go by the moniker “Twisted Lemons” on

Once we were acquainted with the terminology (apparently we are muggles) and had entered the cache coordinates into our iPhones — I used MotionX GPS and Bhavana used the free Geocaching app, we set off into the woods. The trail was easy enough and about 20 minutes into it we, a motley crew of about a dozen adults and kids, found the cache.

Bhavna was disappointed. She had expected we would be out for some strenuous hiking and exploration. Eric told a few of us more ambitious hikers about several other caches and Bhavna was resolved to find one more.

We followed the gas pipeline up the hill before “bushwhacking” our way through a tall thicket of yellow flowers, grass and burr weed. The kids complained about being hot and hungry but we persisted. Kiran found the second cache after about an hour. We were triumphant but exhausted, sticky and hungry so we headed back down the hill to the base of the event where we dined on delicious pizza from the Nomad Pizza truck.

If you look closely you can see that I have passed the image through a texture. In this case, Topaz Clean.

The original image. | Saturday 8 September, 2012 | Nikon D40 | 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6