For those of you out there, who call New Jersey home, this guide to the Delaware Water Gap will give you the tools necessary to let you practice your craft and get great portfolio-level shots in the Delaware Water Gap and surrounding areas.
Photography in the Delaware Water Gap differs from photographing the huge touristy spots out West like Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon in one major way — you need to work harder for your images. There are a plethora of shots of the Watchman from the Bridge, or the Towers of the Virgin and countless other local icons to the area, where the only real iconic view of the Gap comes from the summit of Mount Tammany. But this isn’t a bad thing! This just means that exploring for yourself and using local knowledge is that much more important, in addition to working for your compositions.
This guide is by no means an end all, be all to photographing the area — it’s simply my two cents on some of the shots and locations that I love!
Time of day: Anytime, but for best results sunrise or sunset
Mount Tammany is one of the best short hikes in the area without a doubt and great for sunrise and sunset photography. If you’re hiking for sunrise, one of the best views is a vista about halfway up that you can see below.
I love this view for a few reasons. Route 80 is a beautiful leading line through the whole frame, the trees in the foreground provide great separation between the rest of the frame, and the image leaves plenty of room for a spectacular sky to shoot wide angle — or pull in a little tighter and shoot a short telephoto. To make this shot even more unique, look for cool weather patterns like fog or this cloud inversion, or even shoot at night!
Below is the view of the Delaware River from the summit (at sunset) and one of my personal favorite shots. The golden light from the sunset is gorgeous and the river snakes through the scene like it was made for a photographer. There is plenty of unique compositions up there and plenty of options for foregrounds, focal lengths, and subject matter. Just remember you’ll be hiking back in the dark! Here’s the shot!
I’ll leave it at that because NJspots has a full guide on Hiking Mount Tammany.
Crater Lake & Blue Mountain Lake
Time of day: Crater Lake (sunset), Blue Mountain Lake (sunset or sunrise)
Crater Lake: This place is a helluva lot of fun for kayaking, hiking, picnics, and of course, photography. I’ve been here for sunset more times than I can count and here are a few of my favorite shots! The different types of shots you can get are limitless Framing up different rocks and trees can allow you to get unique shots you can call your own! If the sky is more impressive, pull in on the tree line at the back of the lake and show off the sky. When it comes down to it, I’m a real sucker for lake sunrises and sunsets! This place really is perfect for that, and a great hidden gem for photographers.
Blue Mountain Lake: Blue Mountain Lake is also a great hidden gem for photography. Head up in the morning for some gorgeous golden light and glassy water, later in the day for a sunset, or during a dramatic cloudy day for a drama filled image. This drive is much easier on the car than Crater Lake is, although the hike is a bit longer.
Dingman’s & Raymondskill Falls
Time of day: Anytime, when cloudy for smooth water effects
Dingman’s Falls: Parking is easy, and the path is a gorgeous boardwalk passing another local hotspot, Silverthread Falls. Getting to the bottom of the falls, isn’t the end, though! Of course, there’s the huge, wide shots at the bottom, but there’s also plenty of unique compositions of the falls from the top of the falls of fast, flowing water.
To someone that likes waterfalls as much as I do (which I think is everyone), this spot is a must!
Raymondskill Falls: Raymondskill falls is about a 10-minute drive from Dingman’s Falls and if the weather is cooperating, the hikes are plenty short to do on the same morning or afternoon. There are two main areas to make sure you check out here.
The first is the main viewing area. The trail leads right here and there are a few benches on a wooden platform — really nice for relaxing underneath the sounds of crashing water.
The second area is where the magic happens. There is a very faint dirt trail off the main hike and that will bring you down to the bottom of the whole series of falls. This hike can be a little more treacherous than the main hike but unless things are really wet, slippery, or frozen, it’s not too bad at all — so much opportunity for different types of shots.
Buttermilk Falls & Van Campens Glen
Time of day: Any time, any weather
Buttermilk Falls: The possibilities are endless at this iconic New Jersey waterfall. In addition to the Bottom-Up view at the base of the falls, there is also a very steep hike to a top-down viewing platform that is really out of this world.
Van Campens Glen: This was one of the areas that really got me my start in photography. This spot is a bit of a local landmark not only for its well-balanced hike, beauty, and no shortage of waterfalls/rivers but also for the swimming hole in the middle of the trail.
Viaducts and Overpass
Time of day: sunset
Portland-Columbia Walking Bridge: My favorite place to photograph time and time again in the entire Water Gap and it’s not really that close of a contest. This shot is 100 percent, a classic must shoot sunset shot. You can shoot this area from moderately wide (24, 35, or 50 mm) all the way up to a telephoto at 200mm or even more if you have the glass. Additionally, you can shoot this spot in all weather conditions, from sunny, to slight wispy clouds, to deep storm clouds, this location has a shot and composition to be made.
I-80 Overpass: Not a little-known structure, but definitely a little-known location for photographers. I’ve actually never seen another shot from this location and have no idea why! The bridge is a perfect leading line through the Delaware River into trees and the sky. This spot is just off of Old Mine Road, down the embankment, so get there early (or late) to snag a parking spot. See for yourself — or better yet, go shoot it for yourself!
Jacob F. Bryant is a travel and landscape photographer with longtime base in the Delaware Water Gap. Currently, he resides in Del Rio, TX serving in the United States Air Force while working part-time in his photography business, shooting whenever he gets the opportunity.
This is the first in a series of photography guides.
Upon the request of his clients, he created a 2019 Calendar featuring some of the most beautiful places in the Gap and surrounding areas. If you are interested, please see more at his website here: www.jacobfbryant.com