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These might be the prettiest pictures of the N.J. Pinelands you’ll see this year

Three photos taken in New Jersey's Pinelands National Reserve were judged winners of more than 600 taken in that region. Here's a look at them and finalists, several of whom are from suburban Pennsylvania.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance announced the winners Nov. 3, 2018 of its second annual juried photo competition. This is the overall 1st place winner by Dennis Abriola.
The Pinelands Preservation Alliance announced the winners Nov. 3, 2018 of its second annual juried photo competition. This is the overall 1st place winner by Dennis Abriola.Read moreDennis Abriola

So you've hiked or kayaked through New Jersey's haunting Pine Barrens and captured a perfect picture of twisted tree trunks reflected in the waters of a cedar swamp and thought, "Hey, that's pretty good."

Now, judge yourself against the winners of the second annual juried photo contest hosted by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance.  More than 600 photos taken in the Pinelands National Reserve were submitted by 145 amateur and professional photographers.  The images were judged by landscape photographer Albert D. Horner, who has also taken many of his own photos in the 1.1 million-acre reserve, some of which appear in his 2015 monograph, "Pinelands: New Jersey's Suburban Wilderness."

Three winners were named Saturday, Nov. 3, as were 10 honorable mentions, three of which were from the Greater Philadelphia Area. An exhibit of the photography will hang in the Pinelands Preservation Alliance's barn in Southampton through Dec. 7.

"The New Jersey Pine Barrens have intrigued me the most of all," said finalist Robert Ferguson II of Bristol. "The habitat, the colors, the smells, the Northern and Southern-affinity flora and fauna colliding together in harmony; the place is mysteriously beautiful."

Honorable Mentions

Robert Ferguson II, of Bristol, Pine Barrens Treefrog on Pitcher Plant and Northern Pine Snake Tongue Flick (executive director's choice for honorable mention). Ferguson considers himself a conservationist, environmentalist, and amateur naturalist, and said he is "addicted to the Pinelands."

Thomas Dolan of Richboro, Sunrise in the Pinelands. Dolan said his interest in photography began in 1962 with the birth of his daughter.  He was introduced to the Pinelands by a friend years ago and it has become one of his favorite places.

Christopher Smith, of Lavalette, N.J., Wetlands Fractals. Smith is an Associated Press photographer who grew up wandering the Pinelands, fascinated by its unique beauty.  He began documenting it through photos.

Michael Neuhaus of Bordentown, Fog Bow. Neuhaus has been a photographer for more than 35 years with a reverence for the living environment, only discovering the Pinelands more recently, leaving him surprised by its beauty.  It is now a primary focus of his work. He also won an honorable mention for Gentian Bud.

Greg Bullough of Doylestown, Sky Bubbles. Bullough started photography as a youth but took a long hiatus from the art form.  A friend brought him to the Pinelands a few years ago.  He's since hiked and kayaked from the heart of the pines to the coast.

Amy L. Golden of Voorhees, Swamp Pink. Golden, a dentist and veterinary consultant, first used photography for professional illustrations and lectures. She has worked at nature centers and is on the board of the South Jersey Camera Club.

Ellen Bonacarti of Clarksburg, N.J. Bonacarti has always enjoyed photography, but it didn't become a passion until a few years ago.  Now, it's entwined with her love for the Pine Barrens and all its moods and seasons.

Gregory Fischer of Marmora, N.J., Bullfrog Eating Leopard Frog. Fischer is an environmental science and geology student at Stockton University who likes to hike and bird, and enjoys wildlife photography.

Student winners

Lily Smith, 16, of  Merchantville, took first place for Mill Lake Reflection. She attends Camden Catholic High School, is an avid photographer of both nature and people, and has been visiting the Pine Barrens since she was very young.

Audrey Seals of Northfield, N.J., took second place for Bass River Forest With Flare.  She has assisted her father, David, on photo trips for years and has won first place in a photo contest for the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

Overall Winners

John Giatropoulos of Somerdale took third place for Pinelands Autumn.  He has been photographing since his teens, starting with family events and progressing to nature and landscapes, eventually drawn to the Pinelands.  He enjoys finding different ways to portray its uniqueness since the Pine Barrens have no mountains or cliffs or other traditional landscape elements.

Deborah Mix of  Wenonah took second place for Cranberry Girl. She is a multimedia artist who began as a textile graduate working in fabric design.  She brought nature-inspired themes into her work, eventually going into photography with a lifelong love of South Jersey's rivers, marshes, and Pinelands.

Dennis Abriola of Vineland, N.J., took first place for On a Morning Walk. A retired electrician, he always enjoyed the outdoors and started photographing it with an old box camera.  He has been impressed with the natural beauty of Pinelands landscapes, "whether it is the reflections in the lakes and ponds or the flight of a bird sailing through the air."