Welcome to a NJ Cranberry Bog

Autumn is just about here, and that means only one thing for me - Cranberry Harvest!  I’m going to feature a cranberry photo of mine that has been making the rounds lately…

Welcome to a New Jersey cranberry bog!  New Jersey is the third largest producer of cranberries in the USA, behind Wisconsin and Massachusetts.  Cranberries are a native fruit to New Jersey, which lends to the irony of calling this brilliant red berry’s ideal growing habitat the Pine Barrens.  And although this photo is amazing in its crimson hue of endless floating berries, cranberry bogs are only flooded to gather the berries out of the bogs.  They grow in low beds of dense vines through the spring and summer months.  At just the right time of the season, the bogs are flooded to about thigh deep, the berries are gently agitated off their vines, and a hollow inside every berry allows it to float on the water’s surface.  The floating berries are then corralled and collected from the bogs and transported to a nearby Ocean Spray facility.

Most cranberry growers are Ocean Spray Co-Op Growers, which means you won’t find roadside cranberry stands in October.  It also means that there aren’t “pick your own” opportunities out there, either.  The particular farm that I shoot on every year is owned by close family friends.  I’ve been shooting the harvest long enough that the crew knows me very well and are all very comfortable around me.  I can pretty much get right in there with them and either find or create my photo opportunities.

This photograph was taken with my Nikon D700 and a 28mm lens.  I used an aperture of f 9.5 and a shutter speed of 1/125th.  ISO was set to 400 to give me that boost in aperture.  The shutter speed was right on the edge of capturing movement, but the weight of the cranberries on the push board keeps the action slow and steady.  This is a planned photograph.  I wanted to capture the low angle from the far edge of the push board.  I’ll usually watch as a bog begins to get collected to see what the crew’s rhythms are going to be like.  Then I know exactly where to place myself, both for the photo, and to stay out of the way.  The berry color was perfect, the sky was clear and blue, and for this bog and the direction they were pushing, the sun was in just the right spot to catch Herb’s smile as he walked by.  The other crew member in the background helps in putting the size and depth of the corralled cranberries into perspective.  This is one of the shallower bogs, so I can actually get down on my knees in the water for that looonng angle looking up the board and not have to worry about the water spilling over the top of my waders!  I photographed a few passes Herb made, and on this particular one we had an exchange that made him smile.  Photograph captured!

You’ll find this photograph in my website Galleries, on my Instagram feeds, and most recently featured on the New Jersey Department of Agriculture Jersey Fresh IG feed.

(Be sure to click on “Beyond Weddings” in my menu to the left to see more photos…)

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