*UPDATE: The proposal to privatize Liberty State Park has been dropped! LSP will remain free to the public after the head of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced that there will no longer be any plans to bring development to the park and there was no plans to privatize the park in the first place. Check out the Jersey Journal article about it here. This is a big victory for all the protesters and people against the privatization of LSP. Congrats to all who did not want privatization to occur for the state park.
Liberty State Park (LSP) in Jersey City, New Jersey is one of the city’s and state’s most precious parks. With wonderful views of Jersey City, New York, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, LSP is open to the public for free with fantastic open spaces and a lovely wildlife presence. LSP has been free to the public since it opened 1976.
LSP, however, is facing a major crisis as NJ Governor Chris Christie has released a proposal to lease the land of the park for private developers for large scale projects which will destroy the open spaces in LSP. LSP has always been threaten with privatization over its 40 year history, but this threat seems to be more serious than ever!
I normally stay out of politics especially with my writing and for this photography blog, but LSP means so much to me growing up in Jersey City. Back in 2014, I took numerous photography outings to LSP to showcase its beauty and freedom of open spaces that’s available to everyone! In this blog today, the following will be a few samples from my upcoming book My Jersey City Life (In Photos).
The reason for this is to show everyone in Jersey City, the rest of the state of New Jersey and outside of it the wonders that is Liberty State Park which cannot be ruined for political gain. So many great people spent their time preserving this park over the years and I (along with so many people) do not want to see that hard work destroyed.
So, enjoy my photos and samples from my book that includes LSP and visit http://www.savelsp.org/ for more information about the Governor’s proposal and sign the petition to prevent the privatization of the park!!
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Jersey City has plenty of parks and you could most likely find at least one wherever you are in town. Van Vorst, Hamilton, Lincoln and Persian Field are just some of the well-known parks in Jersey City that connects every community. There’s one park, though, that stands out from the rest in Jersey City and that’s Liberty State Park (LSP). Asides from being a state park, LSP is hands down the largest park in Jersey City.
What sets this park apart from any park in Jersey City besides its size is the open space it provides. It’s a park that is perfect for exploration and is large enough for anyone to settle down to hang back. LSP also provides the perfect views of the New York City skyline, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. LSP has within it the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal (CRRNJ) and a science center simply called Liberty Science Center.
LSP has a great nature presence with so much greenery, a marsh area and plenty of wild life. LSP is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and to leave the city life for a while without actually leaving the city. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to leave the hectic urban life and take away the stress by exercising in the park. What makes LSP great overall is that it’s free to enter and you can do whatever outdoor activity you desire.
Speaking of which, LSP is the perfect photographer’s destination. With a large state park to explore, you can roam freely and take a wide variety of photos from city landscapes, historical landmarks, nature shots, wild life and so much more. From August 2014 to October 2014, I took a vast amount of photos in LSP as I explored every inch of the park.
With Jersey City’s growing skyline, it’s now easier for a few outsiders to know which side is New Jersey and which side is New York. In LSP, you have the perfect view of seeing both skylines at the same time (Photo Above). All you have to do is look left for Jersey City and right for New York. I had shot so many photos of both skylines to the point where they start to look the same, so I decided to change it up and find new, innovative ways to shoot these skylines.
While shooting these skylines, I was near a few tall weeds by a shoreline. Getting creative, I decided to go with a tight shot of a weed, framed it to the left and switched to aperture so I could get my focus on the weed and have both skylines blurred out in the background. What I wanted to accomplish here was to show that even though you are close to two large cities, there’s still this free natural preserve area in LSP so you’re not too far from the wilderness or your home.
While taking more shots of this walkway, I noticed an old Asian man sitting on a bench just admiring the view of the Statue of Liberty (Photo Above). I really enjoy capturing photos of people from behind and on benches, looking towards something. Walking behind the bench, I decided to take a photo of the elderly Asian man admiring an American symbol.
What intrigued me the most was that this elderly man had not only a beach umbrella, but also had a cover tied up on the railing and connected them to poles he had on the back of the bench. He was prepared for a very bright, sunny summer day. As I was behind this elderly man, I knelt down and zoomed in for a tight shot and made sure to just capture this man, the bench and his shopping cart to the right; of course, I had to capture the Statue of liberty in the background.
As I was setting up for this shot, I heard a helicopter approaching from the distance. Just by looking at it, I knew the Helicopter was going to be in the view of my shot. Very quickly, I watched on my LCD screen and waited for the helicopter to get in the frame on the right. When it did come into frame, I snapped the shot really quick, making sure the helicopter didn’t get in front of anything else in the photo. The result was a breathtaking and surprising photo that I didn’t expected to take.
Near the entrance (or exit) of the Liberty Foot Bridge is an area of parked boats on grass. As bizarre as this may look, this section is actually special to me and it has nothing with these boats (Photo Above). Back when I was a kid, this section was completely empty and was a great open space to do anything. I remembered going to this spot a lot as a kid, playing numerous softball games with my family. One memory that stands out from the rest was my 9th birthday party in 1998.
On that gorgeous late spring day, my family and I had a wonderful time playing countless number of softball games. I remembered my grandfather on my father’s side of the family (who since has passed on) was keeping score, but then absolutely forgot to do it. My mother was pregnant with my brother at the time, so she watched everyone play. To top everything off, I ended up with a bad ass Jurassic Park birthday theme cake as the sequel for that movie franchise came out that same year.
Since then, sadly, this area has been taken over by parked boats and my family took our softball games elsewhere in LSP. Still, I hadn’t forgotten about this area, so to pay tribute to my LSP memories I took a wide-shot of this once softball field of dreams turned boat parking lot. I wanted to show just exactly where my awesome 9th birthday party had taken place. The skyline for both Jersey City and New York, of course, have had changed big time.
Just like my pigeon photo, I had encountered yet more wildlife in LSP, this time with a seagull (Photo Above). Seagulls in Jersey City are easily spotted by any waterfront areas like Exchange Place or the Newport marina and are definitely spotted in LSP by the walkway bridge where I spotted this seagull. Unlike the pigeon I had shot, this seagull was on top of the rail looking out to the water.
I had to zoom in close and stand away from the rail so I wouldn’t startle and scare the seagull away. I framed the seagull to the far left since I liked how it was staring straight at the multiple American flags. This is most patriotic photo I have ever shot for a seagull. Another eye catcher for in this photo was the sunset and its refection on the water.
For those living outside the New York and New Jersey area, there has been a long running argument for over a century about the location of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Many argue that these landmarks are located in New Jersey since they are exactly closer to the Garden state and vice versa for New York. Staying with this argument, if you see the majority of Ellis Island photos, you see a stand-alone Island with buildings. What many people outside of New Jersey don’t know is that there is an actual long bridge connecting LSP to Ellis Island (Photo Above).
I remembered see this for the first time years ago when I walked the Liberty Walkway and saw this bridge connected to Ellis Island. I had thought that the only way to the Ellis Island was by boat like Liberty Island. Unfortunately, only security for both LSP and Ellis Island are allowed access on the bridge and it’s not open to the public. I still love it, though, that the bridge is connected from LSP in Jersey City, New Jersey, giving the state and city the upper hand in this argument of the ownership of the island.
So for the photo itself, I went with a landscape shot and zoomed in just enough to show all of Ellis Island and the bridge. With the sun setting, I switched my white balance to shade to really capture the warm colors bouncing on the buildings on Ellis Island. I had taken numerous photos of Ellis Island in my LSP photography sessions, but this is by far my favorite because of its uniqueness of the bridge that not many people know about and it just so happens to be connected to LSP in Jersey City.
In Jersey City, depending on where you are located and standing from, you can get a good view of the Statue of Liberty. In LSP, you can get the most clear and perfect views of Lady Liberty especially by the Liberty Walkway. I had taken plenty of photos of Lady Liberty during my LSP photography sessions including the one I showed earlier of the elderly Asian man on the bench.
From an open space a few feet away from the walkway, I saw the perfect framing for the Statue of Liberty (Photo Above). I was walking by these two trees when I saw the Statue of Liberty perfectly between them. I zoomed in close enough so I could capture the framing of the two trees and the Statue of Liberty perfectly in the center as the main focus. I love how the torch of Lady Liberty is nearly touching the tree branch by the tree to the right thanks to the positioning of this shot.
The Natural Area has the only salted marsh portion of LSP that I know of and it’s absolutely beautiful! With just a small dock to stand on, you can look at the marsh for hours and admire its beauty; it looks even better during a sunset. I was afraid to stand on the dock since it was low enough to touch the water and I was afraid to fall and damage my camera.
So for this shot, I zoomed in as close as possible to the far end of the marsh (Photo Above). I not only did this to prevent myself from standing on the dock, but to also get the Statue of Liberty in the shot on the far right of the frame. Now it looks like Lady Liberty is located just a few inches from the marsh. Just the placement of Lady Liberty in this shot makes this photo. I had to increase the exposure compensation to brighten up the photo since the sunset made everything too dark with the shadows.
Eventually, I was brave enough to get on top of the dock to get a much better shot of the marsh and by better I mean all of the entire marsh (Photo Above). Standing in the center of the marsh thanks to the dock, I took a wide-shot and captured the entire environment of the marsh from the water to the long weeds sticking out to the groups of algae floating around.
It’s everything you could ask for in a marsh. I decreased the exposure compensation this time to darken the photo for a more soothing mood; I also wanted to get a better reflection of the water. Even though I had zoomed all the way out for this shot, the Statue of Liberty is still peeking out in the background on the far right.
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*If you enjoy my samples from my upcoming book My Jersey Life (In Photos), keep in touch as I will post updates about that soon. Also, remember to sign that Liberty State Park petition to prevent the state park from privatization: http://www.savelsp.org/
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