Backyard with Cat

The Garden State: A Photo Journey

For our latest project in Photography I, we focused (no pun intended) on depth of field, or the amount of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear in acceptably sharp focus in a photograph. It varies depending on the type of camera you are using, the focus distance, and aperture, although the size of the photo print and viewing distance also influence our perception of depth of field. A photo with shallow depth of field will have only one area or subject in focus, with the rest of the image blurred and out of focus, where as a photo with a large depth of field will have the entirety of the image in sharp focus.

The subject of our depth of field assignment was our home. I saw this as an opportunity for me to show a different side of my home state of New Jersey than most people think of when they hear about our nation’s third state.

The Garden State has seemingly always been the butt of innumerable jokes, and its reputation as a place full of fertile farm land from Sussex county in the northwest, where the Appalachian mountains cut into the state, to the Pine Barrens that cover much of the south, is all but forgotten in the wake of an unmentionable MTV show.

I am from a suburban town in southern New Jersey, and love it. I am less than 30 minutes from the city of Philadelphia but also only 15 minutes from the 115,000 square acre Wharton State Forest (the state’s largest state forest), and for me this is the perfect balance. When I think of New Jersey, I think of the lake in my hometown that was once a resort town for wealthy business owners from Philadelphia and Camden at the turn of the 20th century. I think of the endless Pine Barrens, full of a unique wide variety of plant life in sandy soil, and full of cranberry bogs and blueberry farms (New Jersey is the blueberry capital of the world, after all!). I think of the suburban sprawl and the small towns lost down old country roads. These images capture my New Jersey.

Daffodils

Our project for depth of field was centered around our home. I snapped this photo of my mother holding a bouquet of freshly picked daffodils on our front porch. This is an example of a shallow depth of field.

Corner Step

This is the corner of the front step to my porch, and features a large depth of field to capture all of the fine details such as the grain of the worn wood and the delicate crocuses blooming in the garden.

Crocus

This cropped photo of an early spring crocus features a shallow depth of field.

Backyard

This photo of my father and one of our cats in our backyard is another example of shallow focus.

Tree Cat

My friends are often shocked when I show them photos of our cat roaming free outside without any leash, but I have always grown up with our cats enjoying the outdoors as much as indoors. This photo of my cat climbing our sycamore tree is an example of shallow depth of field.

Shadow Cat

This photo of my other cat, Trouble, hiding under the kitchen table in the sunset shadows is another example of shallow depth of field.

Abandoned in Atison

My friend Alex and I stumbled upon this half-collapsed abandoned farmhouse in the Pine Barrens near Atsion Lake, at the site of what was once Atsion village. Throughout the ruins we found a number of cats sleeping and sneaking through the old bricks and boards. This photo features a large depth of field.

Trestle

Alex and I found this abandoned train trestle which crosses over the Mullica River, which flows from Atsion Lake. I have been unable to locate any information on this railway, which today extends for only a mile or so through Wharton State Forest in the Pine Barrens. This photo is an example of shallow depth of field.

Tombstone

While hiking around Atsion Lake, we found a small cemetery and the broken grave of this man, which dated to 1826. The graveyard also held the graves of numerous Civil War veterans, some of whom had fought in the war while still teenagers! This photo features a large depth of field.

Shadow

This photo was taken from atop a small hill overlooking an abandoned quarry in Southern New Jersey and feature a large depth of field. The sun was setting behind me that day, so it made for some great photos. This photo features a large depth of field in order to capture all of the details of the expansive quarry before me.

Marks the Spot

In this photo with a shallow depth of field, these two trees had fallen to form an x, but unfortunately for us, there was no hidden Pine Barrens treasure to be found…

Atison Barn

We found this boat and some old farm equipment in an abandoned barn in the former Atsion village, as featured in this photo with large depth of field.

Stopped Car

This photo taken of a traffic stop in my hometown of Laurel Springs, New Jersey represents a shallow depth of field, as the less important background houses and yard are thrown out of focus so the viewer focuses on the police officer and car.

Sky and Crane

This photo of a crane and streetlamp represents a large depth of field, as though I am closer to the lamp and the crane is far away, both remain in sharp focus.

Train Platform

This photo was taken from a regional rail train, while stopped at a North Philadelphia station and is an example of shallow depth of field.

Market East 2

This photo was taken while waiting for a northbound SEPTA regional rail train to Glenside. This photo is an example of shallow depth of field, as only one specific subject is in sharp focus, in order to draw the viewer’s eye to that area in particular.

Market East Lady Waiting.

This photo was taken while waiting for a northbound SEPTA regional rail train to Glenside. This photo is an example of shallow depth of field, as only one specific subject is in sharp focus, in order to draw the viewer’s eye to that area in particular.

City Hall

I snapped this photo while stopped in traffic on my way to Arcadia one afternoon. This is an example of a large depth of field, as everything in the photo is in sharp focus.Philadelphia Museum of ArtThis was taken right before the City Hall photo while stopped in traffic, and although the bicyclist is blurred slightly by motion is an example of a large depth of field.