Great Places to Photograph Nature and Wildlife (Part 1)

One of the pleasures of nature and wildlife photography is it can be enjoyed almost anywhere. I live in Northern New Jersey, which is usually not recognized as a nature photography hotspot. In many ways, I’m fortunate to live in New Jersey because I have to work really hard to create quality images. A good nature photographer can produce high quality marketable images no matter where they live-even in their own backyards.

When I first started photographing nature some 20 years ago, I was under the impression the best images were made by traveling to the most exotic locations. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Many of the photographs I made in Yellowstone, Yosemite, Everglades, and Grand Canyon National Parks looked too similar to those shot by thousands of other photographers shooting the same subjects in the same locations. My work lacked originality.

The quality of my photographs improved dramatically when I began to photograph close to home. I try to get out with my cameras every day. This is made possible by the fact my shooting location (The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge) is just a fifteen minute drive from my residence. Over the course of the first few months photographing at the Great Swamp, I was able to predict the exact spots my wildlife subjects would appear and at what time of day they would do so. Keeping to a daily shooting schedule for the past three years has allowed me to capture some beautiful wildlife portraits.

Listed below, are some equipment suggestions and shooting tips for the Great Swamp.

Location: Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

  • Preferred lenses: 200 mm macro, 300 mm, 500 mm or a zoom covering this range
  • Hit and miss location but if you are persistent you will be rewarded with some outstanding imagery of amphibians, birds, white-tailed deer, reptiles and small mammals
  • Good chance of photographing wood ducks and bluebirds (large populations reside here)
  • All seasons can be productive except late winter but you will need to arrive early and stay late
  • The trails at the Wildlife Observation Center and The Auto Tour Road are your best bets
  • Avoid the weekends during periods of nice weather

Note: This blog article is the first part in a series on great locations for nature photography

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One Response to “Great Places to Photograph Nature and Wildlife (Part 1)”

  1. Peter Doyles Says:

    Adam,
    I enjoy reading your blog. I’m looking forward to visiting the Great Swamp Refuge in the Spring. In addition to the destination articles, I also like to read the equipment reviews. Please do more reviews on Canon cameras and lenses.
    Pete

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