When I was invited to spend a month photographing Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area by Superintendent John Donahue in 2006, I felt like I had made a new discovery. I had no idea that such beauty and solitude could be found just an hour and a half from New York City! Delaware Water Gap encompasses 67,000 acres of mountain ridge, forest and floodplain on both sides of the Delaware River in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Not only is it filled with the beauty of nature, it also has a wealth of archaeological areas to explore and photograph: remnants of copper mines, cemeteries and farms. The park has brought together many of the old structures that were scattered throughout the park and created an area for reenactments. Another small community of buildings that were brought together created a “town” that’s now an artists’ community, where various kinds of art workshops are available. And, of course there’s the wonderful visitor center for the park. All of this gives the photographer a wonderful selection of photographic opportunities.
I arrived at Delaware Water Gap in early May to find the world embraced in the lush green of early spring. I had brought my 5x7 Deardorf view camera with me and was excited to explore the area. It was a wonderful time to be in the park experiencing the flowing rivers, streams and creeks that meander through more than 35 miles of pristine wilderness. Of course everybody said, “You can’t photograph in the rain,” but the May showers didn’t dampen my enthusiasm to capture beautiful images. After all, that’s what umbrellas are for. There are over 100 waterfalls in the park and they were bursting with water. I had a great time photographing many of them, but some had too much water, so I returned in July to once again photograph the area. My second trip to Delaware Water Gap was equally as beautiful. One morning, I was crossing over a bridge and the fog floated gently floating on stream. Perfect for a photograph! Photographing the waterfalls was perfect. Previously, the water was so intense that it was a large mass of white without the rough texture of rocks showing through the water. When I returned, I was able to photograph both the water and the rough-textured rocks that created the waterfall. On my second trip, I had brought my 12x20-inch Wisner view camera with me, and was able to capture some wonderful compositions and textures with it.
The experience of Delaware Water Gap opened up both my heart and my conscience. I’m grateful to the National Park Service for saving so many wonderful places to visit and explore nature. May we all enjoy our parks and make sure they are still there for future generations. The trip also brought to my mind the fact that many people believe they need to travel out west in order to capture magnificent photographic images when, in reality, the images are in our own backyards. All we need to do is open our eyes and beauty surrounds us. OP