Who are you, and where in New Jersey are you from?
My name is William Hartz. I was born and raised and am currently back living in Elizabeth, NJ. I’m a Computer Literacy teacher for the Elizabeth Public School District during the day and run a photography/graphic design company with my brother on the side.
In my free time I am typically either in the gym or on a trail — usually of the Appalachian variety.
What are the three best spots for photography in New Jersey, and why?
1. Worthington State Forest. Whether camping on the Delaware, hiking up Mount Tammany or standing on the 360º vista of Raccoon Ridge (yes, I know this is slightly out of the park boundaries… nevertheless), Worthington has provided the backdrop for some of my favorite images that I’ve made.
Want to explore hiking spots like Mount Tammany? Check out our hiking map.
2. Liberty State Park/Ellis Island. From the Park itself to the old Central Railroad to the Statute of Liberty (it’s New Jersey!) to the historic island itself, this whole area as so many different interesting things to see and capture with a variety of settings and backdrops, including lower Manhattan.
3. Tillmans Ravine/Buttermilk Falls. In Stokes State Forest you’ll find Tillmans Ravine and Buttermilk Falls within a few minutes of each other. The forest in that area can have a kind of mythical feel to it which is really cool to be in.
And Buttermilk Falls is the tallest waterfall in New Jersey. You can climb to the top and keep going up to the AT or past to Crater Lake, which is a really nice spot as well.
For more state park and state forest spots, check out our map.
What's your camera setup?
I am more and more using the iPhone (currently 11 Pro Max) because, at this point, the cameras in it are just that good. I have little bluetooth flashes to augment things with it, but I recently got the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal, and that’s opening up all kinds of new possibilities for iPhone photography.
What's your dream piece of gear? Think big!
I hear the Hubble Space Telescope has a pretty good zoom on it. Is that big enough?
I’ve been wanting to switch to a mirrorless system such as the Sony a7-series but haven’t pulled the trigger yet as I still want a full frame camera and they are not cheap.
Our founder switched to Sony and is loving it! Read her review here.
What's one bucket list photo of New Jersey you haven't gotten yet?
I’ve still never quite gotten a photo of a dark, star-filled sky or of the galactic center that I am happy with. Being so close to New York City makes it difficult to do so without driving two hours, but it’ll happen someday.
If you’re like William, you need to read our guide on how to get the best Milky Way pictures in 2020.
One tip for aspiring photographers?
Start small. You don’t need to invest in the biggest and best gear right off the bat. Wait until you reach the upper limits of what your current gear can do, and then upgrade when it no longer works for what you want to accomplish.
Also, stop shooting on AUTO. Just… don’t.
Remember: your gear does not define you!