‘It’s an absolutely gorgeous place’

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The Pinelands 2024 Juried Photographic Exhibition is in its sixth year capturing the “unique, mysterious, and charming characteristics” of the Pinelands.

Richard Lewis, chair of the exhibit’s Steering Committee, has been photographing the Pines for 20 years. He said every year he is amazed by the entries that are submitted.

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“For most people on their drive to the shore, it might just be boring trees,” he said. “But if you go in, you will see why this place is preserved … it’s an absolutely gorgeous place.”

Lewis said the idea of the exhibit came together a few years ago.

“We had an idea of ‘Why not have a photography gallery and show the world what this place really looks like,'” he recalled. “The first year we got 200 to 300 entries. Now we get over 700 entries.”

The exhibit is one way to help further preserve the area, Lewis added. It is home to a variety of species, and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer which supplies trillions of gallons of fresh water to South Jersey and beyond!

Among the entries, there are 83 captivating photographs hanging in the exhibit at the barn located at the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) Headquarters at 17 Pemberton Road, Southampton. Many images will capture your attention from the Pine Barren tree frogs to birds to carnivorous plants.

Photographs had to be taken within the boundaries of the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve and submitted in one of the following categories: Landscape, Flora and Fauna, and Other (people, towns, architecture, culture, history, and recreation).

“Originally we didn’t have categories,” Lewis said. “We realized landscape photos were taking all the prizes so we split [the categories] up … that way [every photo submitted] can compete on an equal footing.”

This year, exhibition had 165 photographers submit 715 photographs for consideration. The jury included Henry Rowan, a national award-winning photographer, author, and the executive director of the Pennsylvania Center for Photography (PCP) in Doylestown. They whittled the selection down to the photographs on display as part of the exhibit.

PPA held an awards ceremony on March 23 to announce winners of the exhibition. Carleton Montgomery, PPA’s executive director, welcomed the exhibitors, before handing it off to Lewis to announce the winners.

Best In Show

Pine Barrens Tree Frog on Pitcher Plant by Robert Ferguson II.

Open Exhibition Awards

First Place – Moore Farmers – Moore Fruit by Rob Auermuller.

Second Place – Abrams Farmstead by Tony Mondelli.

Third Place – Capturing a Pinelands Moment by Karen Crisfulla

Flora and Fauna Exhibition Awards

First Place – Plumes of Passion–Egret in Breeding Splendor by Greg Zanoni.

Second Place – Grumpy Pine Snake by Robert Ferguson II.

Third Place – Natures Drama – Culinary Catch Greg Zanoni.

Landscape Exhibition Awards

First Place – Autumn Medley by Cynthia Mezick.

Autumn-Medley by Cynthia Mezick

Second Place – Snowy Owl – Whoo Can See It? by Rob Auermuller.

Third Place – Sunlit Cedar Swamp by Martin Kavanagh.

All acceptable photographs submitted will be displayed in an online New Jersey Pinelands Photo Gallery by April 15 at https://pinelandsalliance.org/ppa-photo-contest-2/.

The gallery runs through April 27. Hours are: 

  • Mondays – Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Fridays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Sundays – noon to 5 p.m.

PPA was established as a nonprofit in 1989 by environmental leaders and Pinelands residents, with the goal of preserving and protecting the more than one million acres of the Pinelands. PPA remains the only private organization dedicated solely to environmental protection throughout the Pinelands.

Congress created the Pinelands National Reserve (PNR) with passage of the National Parks and Recreation act of 1978, according to the state Pinelands Commission.

The PNR encompasses about 1.1 million acres of public and private lands spanning portions of seven counties and all or part of 56 municipalities. The reserve occupies 22% of the state’s land area and it is the largest body of open space on the Mid-Atlantic seaboard between Richmond and Boston.

PNR’s public lands include parks, forests, wildlife refuges and military bases. Private lands include 56 com­munities that range in size from small villages to large towns. Nearly 500,000 permanent residents live there.

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