My first entry for Bren Ryan’s, Photo for the Week fun challenge and my entry for Cee Neuner’s, Flower of the Day. Daily flower posts will be challenging for me. I have a full-time job (8-5PM), plus the commute (1 hour each direction), and live in the New Jersey. So I don’t expect I’ll have the subject matter on a daily basis.
I found a new Open Space trail in my town that is a great place to relax while listing to the wind in the trees and watch fish swim.
I was clearing out my email when I stopped to read one from the Sourland Conservancy. I learned that a new member of their staff, Carolyn Klaube, had a website detailing her hikes along the Sourland Mountain range trails. Carolyn has been hiking the trails – alone or with assistance from her two young boys – through the seasons, photographing items of interest, and sharing random facts and links to learn more.
Carolyn wrote about her discovery of a new mini-park, Zion Crossing, along Hollow Road on the border with Skillman and Hillsborough. Carolyn’s blog is called, Sourland Niche and I spent almost an hour reading it before I came upon the post that prompted this blog post.
According to the Montgomery Township website:
This land is located directly adjacent to 300 acres of other Montgomery, Hillsborough and Somerset County-owned open space. These new acquisitions will further expand the Township’s “Rock Brook Greenway” project area. Rock Brook, with headwaters in the Sourlands, is Montgomery’s highest quality stream and trout-stocked waters. By preserving these properties, and others in the Sourlands, the Township is protecting water quality and securing contiguous forest canopy. When woodland is cleared for development, a “hole” in the tree canopy is created. Many susceptible species, particularly birds which migrate through the Sourlands, require a certain area of contiguous forest to successfully forage, breed and nest.
I was excited to visit Zion Crossing. The day before reading Carolyn’s post, Bhavna and I had visited my favourite spot along Hollow Road. A small patch of gravel on the northern side of the road allows access to a clearing in the trees and a path leads down to the Rock Brook. I told Bhavna about Carolyn’s post and the new park and we agreed to find it the next weekend.
It was easy to find. Carolyn provided a Google Map link to the location. We almost drove past the entrance. There is a very small sign to the unpaved roadway to the parking area.
Getting out of the car we could immediately hear running water. A trail leads down from the parking area to the Rock Brook. We saw a picnic table with an umbrella. I made a mental note to come back with a picnic basket when the weather is cooler.
Bhavna walked down to the water the area while I looked around taking in the scene and thinking through what photographs I might capture. I set up high on the bank just above the rocks but struggled with the camera settings. I eventually gave up and walked down to where Bhavana was. We could see a small waterfall pouring into a rocky beach. I set up there.
I spent most of my time listening to the water, the wind in the leaves, and taking photos. I head Bhavna exclaim in joy at seeing fish in the water. She sat on a rock and waited for me to finish taking my photos. I watched her relaxing.
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. The waterfall is tiny but I got some great long exposure shots on my iPhone 6 (try the Pro Cam app) and Nikon DSLR. The flow of water is dependent on the amount of rainfall. I will visit again when the spring rains start.
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 care 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 had to focus with the lens in auto-mode, get my exposure readings, switch the lens to manual, and then carefully attach my 10 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 off 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 seconds and 30 seconds. The exposures were combined in Photomatix Pro 5.