Pine Barrens Photography
Capturing the Enigmatic Beauty of the New Jersey Pinelands With Photography

WRITTEN BY:  BRUCE LOVELACE

PUBLISHED ON:  March  15 , 2024

While the New Jersey Pinelands might not be the first place that comes to mind for photography enthusiasts, it boasts a hidden wealth of stunning landscapes perfect for capturing with your camera, whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out. Nature lovers like myself and fellow photographer Richard Lewis find endless inspiration in the Pine Barrens' unique beauty. With a bit of guidance, you too can create captivating images of this special place.

I shot the typical pinelands photo below on a hike of the popular BATONA Trail, which gets its clever name from the phrase "back to nature."    BAck-TO-NAture trail.

Typical Pine Barrens ViewTypical Pine Barrens View on The Batona Trail, Wharton State Forest
Between the Carranza Monument and Lower Forge campground

Vistas like this one that I photographed recently, stretching across the vast wooded expanse of the Pine Barrens, might seem daunting to some city dwellers. But for photographers like me, they ignite a sense of peace and tranquility, beckoning us to explore and capture their beauty.

Unlike the manicured landscapes of city parks, the Pine Barrens offer a raw and untamed beauty. The gnarled branches of pitch pines cast dramatic shadows across sandy trails, while carpets of emerald green moss cloak ancient tree stumps. Photographers can revel in the play of light filtering through the canopy, creating dappled patterns on the forest floor or illuminating the dewdrops clinging to spiderwebs.

Even the soft diffused light during a rainstorm can be good for photographing certain areas of the pinelands.

Pine Barrens evergreen tree"Evergreen in The Rain"
Franklin Nature Preserve, Pine Barrens, New Jersey.

The Jersey Pine Barrens area is known for more that its abundant pine trees and sandy soil. It's also known for its marsh areas, small streams, ponds, and flooded cranberry bogs. This makes for an abundant number of photographic subjects. Don't hesitate to lace up your hiking boots and explore trails that lead to scenic vistas, tranquil ponds, and ancient ruins waiting to be immortalized through your lens.

I shot the image below with a Canon EOS R full-frame mirrorless camera and a 24-105mm lens zoomed out to a 32mm focal length.

Pine Barrens Tree ReflectionPine Barrens Tree Reflection

The New Jersey Pinelands, often overshadowed by the bright lights of Atlantic City, hold a secret world for photographers. This vast expanse of twisted pines, cranberry bogs, and glistening waterways offers a unique landscape unlike any other in the Northeast. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting your photographic journey, the Pine Barrens brim with opportunities to capture captivating images.


Franklin Nature Preserve Photos

The Franklin Nature Preserve at Piney Hollow is one of the best hot spots in the New Jersey Pinelands if you want to photograph the wildlife of the area. It's located in Franklin Township between the Black Horse Pike (Rt. 322) and Rt. 40, between Buena and Collings Lakes.

A good zoom lens will give you the versatility you need to capture subject both near and far. For these photos, I used an 18-150mm lens mounted to a Canon mirrorless R7.

Piney Hollow FrogFrog
Piney Hollow Preservation Area

I took this frog portrait at Piney Hollow and it was one of many frogs that were posing for me in the various ponds and puddles at Piney Hollow.

From elusive birds of prey, to frogs, turtles, and deer, to delicate wildflowers, the Pine Barrens teem with a diverse array of wildlife waiting to be photographed. Bring along a telephoto lens and stay alert for fleeting moments of natural beauty – a red-tailed hawk soaring overhead, a white-tailed deer grazing in a sun-dappled clearing, or a carnivorous pitcher plant glistening with morning dew.

You'll need to practice patience and respect for the creatures that call this piney wilderness home, and you'll be rewarded with stunning images that capture the essence of the Pine Barrens' natural splendor.

Piney Hollow - Red Winged BlackbirdPiney Hollow - Red Winged Blackbird
Franklin Nature Preserve. Pinelands New Jersey

For a very complete list of all species in the Pinelands you can copy and past this page in a new browser tab:  http://www.pineypower.com/animals.htm

While you're in the area, one of the hotspots for enjoyable photo excursions is on the boundary of the Pinelands National Preserve in Heislerville NJ, the East Point Lighthouse.

East-Point NJ LighthouseLocated on the Pinelands National Preserve Boundary, Heislerville NJ
The last lighthouse to survive in Cumberland County is the East Point Lighthouse.

Piney Hollow PreservePiney Hollow Preserve

I shot the image above with a Canon EOS R7  mirrorless camera and an 18-150mm lens zoomed out to an 18mm focal length.


Pine Barrens/Pinelands Frquently Asked Questions

What is there to do in the New Jersey Pine Barrens?

Whether you are interested in photographing this natural wonder, hiking a sandy trail, visiting one of the historical sites, navigating a peaceful float down a steam or around a lake in your kayak, or visiting  one of the many nature centers, there's plenty to keep you occupied in the Jersey Pinelands.

Where are the top photo hotspots in the New Jersey Pinelands region to photograph?

According to Professional Pine Barrens photographer, Richard Lewis, the top 5 locations to photograph the Pinelands are 1)  Batsto Village,  2)  Pakim Pond, 3)  Franklin Parker Preserve, 4)  Friendship Bridge & Ruins, and 5)  Whitesbog. Additional pinelands photo locations include Piney Hollow and Black Run Reserve.

What is below the New Jersey Pinelands?

Below the New Jersey Pinelands is a remarkable natural resource, The Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer, an almost 18 trillion gallon reservoir of water. That much water, if above ground, would cover the entire state of New Jersey to a depth of 10 feet.

How big is the New Jersey Pinelands?

The Pinelands National Reserve covers over1 million acres, some of which is owned publicly and some privately. Parts of  7 different southern New Jersey counties and parts of 56 different municipalities contain this areas also known as the Pine Barrens.  The State Pinelands Area includes over 1,400 square miles, which is 19 percent of the total area of New Jersey.

Are the Pine Barrens of New Jersey dangerous?

The Pine Barrens are not dangerous, but they have a misleading reputation as being a place to hide dead bodies as a result of the popularity of the TV show, The Sopranos.  Theses pinelands do not have a high crime rate. The hiking trails have no possibility of failing from high elevations, no rapidly moving rivers to get swept away in. Also, the mythical creature, The Jersey Devil, that is reported to roam and scare visitors to the Pinelands is not real.

The biggest "dangers" are getting lost in the vast woodlands from wandering off trail, becoming dehydrated, and getting bit by ticks. 

New Jersey Pinelands DangerousHazards of Hiking The Jersey Pinelands

How To Photograph The Pinelands

Photographing the Pine Barrens is not in itself challenging. You'll need a camera with a decent lens and you'll need to employ good compositional technique combined with favorable lighting conditions.

Planning ahead will make your photo excursion more rewarding in two ways. You have more photographic success and you'll not waste so much time going down dead ends.

If you want a complete guide on how, what, and when to take your own stunning images of the Pine Barrens, you're in for a treat. The video below is long, but its fascinating to watch and an extremely helpful guide on photographing the pinelands of New Jersey. Just jump ahead to the 7:50 make if you want to avoid the introductions and get to the useful information and tips on photographing the Pine Barrens.


Pine Barrens Photography Summary

The Pine Barrens are a photographer's paradise for capturing more than just woodlands. Explore the vibrant ecosystems of cedar swamps teeming with life, or capture the serenity of cranberry bogs reflecting the fiery hues of sunrise.

So, ditch the crowds and venture into a unique New Jersey photography location,  the mysterious beauty of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. With a camera in hand and a sense of adventure, you're sure to capture the magic of this hidden gem.


Bruce Lovelace portrait

Bruce Lovelace is the publisher of TravelingPhotographer.com. Bruce shot portraits full time for over 35 years. Now he shoots more travel photography.  Read more about him on the About Page. He also publishes how to articles and camera gear reviews at the  Photography Tips and Canon Geek websites.

The Traveling Photographer Location on Google My Business


You might like these