I recently had to send a lot of my camera gear into Nikon to have it serviced and repaired. Turns out years of almost constant use can wear these things down and they need some maintenance, who knew! Anyway, one of the things I had to send in was the lens I use to do all of my bird and wildlife photography which meant that for a short time I’d have to try something different. There have been many times in the past were I’ve thought to myself, it would be a nice change of pace to try some photography not specifically geared towards birds and wildlife but every time I end up reverting to chasing the birds. It was nice this time to have my hand forced to try something different. So one morning in January I packed up a D700 camera along with my 24mm and a 105mm macro lens and drove to a new spot smack in the middle of New Jersey’s Pinelands. Oh, and I did bring my 70-200mm lens just in case I saw a bird or some wildlife that I really wouldn’t want to miss, I never used it.
As I arrived at Whitesbog Preservation Trust in Browns Mills, NJ around 7:30am the sun was just beginning to rise above the horizon. Perfect timing! I quickly parked and went to the nearest field that would hopefully provide me with a good sunrise photo. I put the 24mm lens on and began to shoot, the lead photo is one those from that moment. After a few different attempts at the sunrise photo I walked out of the field and onto the nearest trail. I had never been to this place so I really didn’t know what to expect or where to go which was a great feeling. I do love exploring a new place and seeing it with fresh eyes.
I had luckily picked a perfect winter day to do some landscape and macro photography. It turned out to be one of the calmest morning I can remember. At one point I was standing on a road out in the middle of the cranberry bogs and I couldn’t feel even the slightest breeze. It was awesome since it made for some perfectly smooth reflections in the water. Some of the water in the bogs was also frozen providing an interesting texture for some of the landscape photos. The other great part about this day was the light. There was just a thin layer of clouds so you could still see the sun coming through but it wasn’t too harsh or overly bright, it was the perfect mix of sun and clouds.
After I walked most of the roads that wrapped around the cranberry bogs I decided to throw on the macro lens and head off on a trail into the wooded area. Right away I found a few cool things to photograph with the macro lens, it’s always a fun challenge using that lens. After a while though I notice it can get tough to find something to photograph with the macro. Basically I’m walking through the woods with millions of things that I could photograph close up but I’ve got to try and figure out what will actually look good close up. Sometimes I can just see something that I know will look good but other times I have to actually put the camera up to my eye and see what it will look like through that lens. It’s usually a surprise in the “eeww that doesn’t look good” way, but sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise. Either way it is always fun using the macro lens and I don’t nearly use it enough. One of my favorite things about that lens is how well it can create very shallow depth-of-field and isolate your subject, such as the piece of grass above.
After spending the morning at [Whitesbog Preservation Trust](http://www.whitesbog.org) I would highly recommend making a visit there if you happen to live in the southern/central NJ area. If not, I recommend trying to add a bit of diversity into your photography. I know I will try much harder in the future to incorporate more landscape and macro photography along with my wildlife photos, or at the very least I’ll have to just leave the telephoto lens at home and see what happens. - Ray