We all know that Bucks County is a beautiful place to live, but local artists have a way of capturing that beauty in a way that makes you stop and really appreciate it. Yardley's Josh Friedman has been a photographer for almost 40 years. Nature and landscapes are his main focus, with Bucks County bridges being among his favorite places to photograph.
Many of Josh's images are HDR (high dynamic range) photographs. This is a process in which he takes multiple exposures of the same scene to capture the correct lighting in each part of the scene. This allows us to more realistically represent what our eyes can perceive, as compared to traditional photography. Even if you don't understand the process behind it, the results are undeniably striking.
Josh Friedman's photographs have been displayed at many juried fine art shows in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. If you'd like to add prints of his work to your home, you can visit his Etsy shop here. They also make great gifts! All of his photographs are available in a variety of sizes, and many can be purchased at matted prints.
(Tip: Josh is running a holiday sale, now through Saturday!)
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We recently talked with Josh to learn more about his photography and the passion behind his talent:
BH: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Josh: My wife, Cynthia and I have been married for twenty-six years. We are very lucky to have two sons, both of whom are in college. My wife and I are clinical psychologists, and we met in graduate school. But long before all of those things, I had a passion for photography. I’ve owned cameras since I’m about eight or nine years old, working up from a Kodak Instamatic to various film SLR cameras and eventually to digital SLRs. As a high school student, I had a darkroom in my parents’ basement, where friends and I developed black and white photographs.
BH: What draws you to landscapes and nature? What makes you passionate about landscape photography?
Josh: I love the process of capturing a moment or place in a (hopefully) beautiful or interesting way. From an early age, I loved Ansel Adams black and white images of the American West and our national parks. In addition to being truly beautiful, his photographs captured a sense of awe at our natural world. Similarly, my parents used to subscribe to National Geographic magazine, and I always loved the shots of nature, faraway places and animals in their natural habitat. One of Cynthia and my first dates was an exhibit of National Geographic photography in New York City.
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This morning's sunrise at the Garden of Reflection 9/11 Memorial in Yardley, Pennsylvania (Bucks County). Thinking of all of the lives lost on 9/11, as well as our country's feeling of unity in the days and months that followed. This is an HDR (high dynamic range) photograph from four separate exposures. #gardenofreflection #yardleypa #yardley #landscapephotography #911 #911memorial #neveragain #sunrise #sunrisephotography #fountain #joshfriedmanphoto #buckscounty #buckscountymoments #pennsylvania #delawarerivertowns #hdrphotography #hdrphotography #photography
BH: Where are your favorite places to shoot in Bucks County?
Josh: I feel very lucky that Bucks County is abundant in natural beauty and rich in history. I live in Yardley, and a few local favorite spots include Lake Afton, Patterson Farm the historic railroad bridge and the Garden of Reflection. Elsewhere in Bucks County, I love the historic covered bridges, the Delaware Canal and Towpath, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, some of the bridges crossing the Delaware River (such as the “Trenton Makes” bridge and the Lumberville-Raven Rock Bridge), Washington Crossing Park and the historic Cuttalossa Farm.
BH: How did you set about developing your own style? What do you want to say with your photographs, and how do you actually get your photographs to do that? Do you have a philosophy or guiding principles when it comes to your art?
Josh: With regard to a philosophy, I would agree with Abraham Lincoln who said “I never had a policy”, but he just tried to do his best. I try to approach a new photography location without any preconceptions to see what moves and inspires me. That said, I try to get the best possible light, which usually means sunrises and early mornings as well as late afternoons and sunsets. Additionally, while I have no hard and fast rules, I have general composition guidelines in my mind for landscapes – things like leading lines, the rule of thirds, and simplifying the overall composition. Additionally, if I have admired something about another photographer’s work, I might challenge myself to achieve a similar effect in my own images. For instance, in my recent Cascadilla Gorge images, I tried to convey a sense of movement in the cascading water.
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Autumn morning on the Delaware Canal and Towpath in New Hope, Pennsylvania. #BucksCountry #buckscountymoment #landscapephotography #photography #delawarecanal #delawarerivertowns #Yardley #newtownyardley #hdrphotography #HDR #joshfriedmanphoto #etsy #pa_explorations #reflection #autumn #autumninbuckscounty #fallcolor #towpath
BH: Among your works, which one is your favorite? Why?
Josh: That’s a good question, but I really don’t have a very good answer. Its really hard to separate the quality of a photograph from my experience making that photograph – being at a particular place, the challenges I might have had in taking a particular shot, or the satisfaction I may have had in post-processing an image to look a certain way. A few of my personal favorites include my series of of an old Threadleaf Japanese Maple Tree in different seasons; some of my Lake Afton images; a few of my National Park shots – particularly a couple in the Grand Tetons; and perhaps a few of my Patterson Farm shots and some of the Delaware Canal and Towpath. Finally, I would add a few of the shots I took a few weeks ago at Cascadilla Gorge, in upstate New York.
BH: What inspires you? Who/what are your influences/mentors?
Josh: From a personal standpoint, my parents and grandparents have inspired me as role models and because of the values that they have instilled in me. From a photographic standpoint, I have always idolized Ansel Adams – in terms of his artistry, his awe of our natural world, and the fact that he created these incredible works of art without the technical advantages that we now have. Additionally, he seems to have been interesting, wise, and he had a sense of humor. I have had the good fortune to learn directly from some very gifted photographers, including Michael Frye, Bryan Peterson, Jim Zuckerman, Gary Hart, and Don Smith.
BH: What is one important lesson that you have learned through your own photography?
Josh: It's hard to pick one lesson, but here are a few things that I’ve learned through my photography: an appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us, the relationship between our perspective and our experience, and the need for patience. Finally, this is an overlap between my photography and my work as a psychologist – I appreciate the concept of “flow” in a person’s life. This is the notion that you can have a complete, positive immersion in an activity. Time stands still, and your creative juices are flowing. I genuinely love the process of taking and editing photographs. The “flow” that I experience at these times is an essential part of my life.
BH: Apart from photography, do you have interest in other creative activities?
Josh: When I was younger, I enjoyed drawing, but I really haven’t done that for many years. I’ve always been very interested in most forms of art, especially photography and painting.
BH: How has nature and photography played part in shaping the person you are today?
Josh: Photography has become one of the key ways in which I experience the world. I’m a very visual person, and whether or not I have my camera with me, I’m always framing images in my mind. Photography has afforded me the luxury of never being bored. I’m quite lucky in that I’m an early riser, I love the outdoors, and I’m fascinated and amazed by nature. Being an early bird is a huge advantage in allowing me to experience and photograph beautiful early morning light. Early morning’s are also incredibly peaceful. If you are in a popular tourist area, early mornings have the added benefit in terms of being infinitely less crowded than afternoons. If our family is on vacation, I am typically up hours before anyone else, and I will find something new and interesting to photograph.
BH: You’ve been a photographer for almost 40 years. Since then, photography has seen seismic shifts in terms of technology, from film to digital, then in terms of digital quality, and in terms of photo editing. What are your favorite pieces of equipment for photography? (For instance, I know you are a big fan of HDR photography)
Josh: While I enjoyed my film and darkroom days, I feel significantly more creative control in the age of digital photography. I shoot with a Canon digital SLR camera (I recently upgraded to a newer model) with a few lenses and filters. For the vast majority of my nature and landscape photographs, I use a tripod and an external shutter release. I use an assortment of post-processing software. For my HDR (high dynamic range) images, I use Photomatix Pro software. Additionally, for editing my photographs I regularly use Adobe Photoshop as well as OnOne software. Ansel Adam’s darkroom tools such as “dodging” and “burning” and manipulating contrast are now much easier using software and digital images.
BH: Is there somewhere you’ve promised yourself you’ll visit to photograph?
Josh: I’m a big fan of our National Parks, and I would love to photograph as many of them as possible, hopefully in a variety of different seasons. Its been over 30 years since I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, so I’d like love go back and photograph each of them, as well as Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Canyonlands. I would also love to see and photograph many parts of Europe and Asia. I’ve seen photos of China’s Yellow Mountains, which seem incredibly beautiful. Cynthia and I honeymooned in Greece. At some point, I would love to go back and photograph Santorini. The truth is, wherever I go, there is invariably something that catches my eye.