Many people would not sit atop their car in the NJ Pinelands with a cup of coffee waiting for the sunlight to coax brilliant colors from the landscape and through the fog, but Medford native Albert Horner isn’t many people. He’s been doing just that for over nine years, photographing the beauty of the 1.1 million acre National Reserve in south Jersey, resulting in his beautiful coffee table book Pinelands: New Jersey’s Suburban Wilderness.
Horner brought his book and a slide show highlighting many of its photos to the State Library for a very visually pleasing author talk on September 7. His love for and knowledge of the Pine Barrens was apparent in his presentation as he showcased the Pinelands singular beauty, the uniqueness of New Jersey’s largest natural resource and interesting facts about the region.
He noted that John McPhee’s book The Pine Barrens was a major catalyst in the area’s preservation. In 1978, Congress established it as the first National Reserve. It has also been designated as a UNESCO biosphere. It encompasses 21 percent of the state’s land mass, covers 7 counties and 56 municipalites. The area got its name in the colonial era because typical crops would not grow there due to the soil being too sandy and acidic. It is home to four major rivers (Mullica, Batsto, Wading and Oswego) all part of the Mullica River Watershed; a variety of plants, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds; and 900,000 humans. It is, perhaps, the only place to find Pickering’s Morning Glory, Curly Grass and other endangered plants with limited range.
Horner has been visiting the Pine Barrens most of his life. As a self-taught fine arts landscape photographer he has traveled extensively in Europe, the East Coast, the desert Southwest and Appalachian ridges of the U.S. He wanted to make landscape images into large format fine art and was never quite satisfied with the photographic end results until he thought about the Pine Barrens. Accessible to him nearly around the clock, he was able to anticipate the weather, lighting and geographic features required to make landscape images into large format fine art.
Horner is involved in several exhibits per year; is shown and exhibited in local galleries; conducts workshops and does speaking engagements, all based on his intimate images, knowledge and advocacy for the local environment. “My greatest dream is to capture the beauty of the Pinelands,” he said, “and then, have those images help preserve it.”
Horner’s work may be viewed online at: http://www.pinelandsimagery.com.