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New Jersey

Dwight Hiscano: Nature Photographer

Dwight Hiscano has been taking pictures since childhood, but it wasn't until he developed a passion for nature and the outdoors that his photographs became truly inspired works of art.  The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey has benefit greatly from Dwight’s photography, which has captured the beauty of many of our 37 preserves. His imagery is a conservation tool that inspires appreciation and support. We recently spoke with Dwight about what motivates him as a nature photographer and volunteer for The Nature Conservancy.
"We are not only protecting individual species and habitats; we are also preserving entire landscapes."

Dwight Hiscano, Volunteer Photographer

How and when did you become involved with nature photography?

Dwight Hiscano:

I had been shooting since I was a child, but nothing serious. After school I began to focus primarily on the natural landscape. I was shooting more urban stuff, and messing around with different manipulation techniques in the darkroom. It was fun at the time, but something was missing. I was spending too much time in the city, and too much time in the dark. And there was no adventure involved. I began to venture out into the wilds more and more, and eventually realized that's where I belong.

Describe a perfect day in the field.

Dwight Hiscano:

Snowshoeing through a blizzard; trudging through a swamp; finding an arrowhead; having a run-in with a bear or a copperhead; fording a river; shooting the sunset from a mountaintop, then making my way back down in the dark; being 50 miles from civilization, with a 70 pound pack on my back, up to my waist in river water, in the dark, in grizzly country. But these days, any day in the field is perfect; I don't get out as much as I'd like (too busy being a daddy).

Where is your favorite place to photograph outdoors in New Jersey? Beyond?

Dwight Hiscano:

That's a tough one. I have a strong connection to New Jersey’s Highlands; my family has been there on the same piece of land for over a hundred years, so it's pretty special to me. And it's a pretty unique landscape. But just about any natural landscape in New Jersey is unique, and they're all so drastically different. The Kittatinny Ridge and Valley region is spectacular: New Jersey's own "Big Sky" country. When I visit, I feel like I'm somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Pinelands remind me of the West: the vastness of it, the unbroken horizons, the thick, nearly impenetrable forests, the pygmy pines, the smell of cedar, the little fence lizards and the big pine snakes. It's as close to true wilderness as you can get here in the Mid-Atlantic, and it's easy to get lost there – something I try to do every so often. And New Jersey's beaches are obviously a joy to visit. Beyond NJ, I'd have to say the deserts of the Southwest; some amazing landscapes out there.

How did you get involved with The Nature Conservancy, specifically your role as a trustee?

Dwight Hiscano:

I had been volunteering since the late 1980's, taking photographs of the preserves. In 2001 I got the call asking if I'd consider joining the board. I was honored, and happy to help in any way possible.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far, professionally speaking?

Dwight Hiscano:

There are a few. I've recently made some big sales to hospitals and medical centers. There's a lot of talk these days about “healing arts.” What better subject than nature to fulfill that role? Also, seeing one of my photographs hanging on the wall at the Smithsonian – a picture of lily pads in the New Jersey Highlands.

What legacy will you leave to your children?

Dwight Hiscano:

I'm hoping they can experience the same landscapes that I, my grandfather and great-grandfather experienced. That they can walk the same trails, swim in the same rivers, climb the same mountains. Whether it's the red-rock canyons of Utah, or the green hills of New Jersey, I think our children, and the generations that follow, deserve to see what we've seen. I think this is what is most important for me about working with the Conservancy. We are not only protecting individual species and habitats; we are also preserving entire landscapes.

What is your motto?

Dwight Hiscano:

How about a mission statement: Live life to the fullest, be open-minded, travel often, don’t follow trends, revere the Earth, speak honestly, help out when you can, and don’t hurt anyone deliberately, through self-centeredness or through ignorance. Oh, and don’t leave the water running when you do the dishes.
Interviewed by Diane Borowsky, Nature Conservancy writer/events coordinator based in Chester, New Jersey.

Dwight Hiscano’s love for the outdoors has led to a passionate effort to capture the North American wilderness on film, while bringing new perspectives to the art of landscape photography. A self-employed photographer and author of New Jersey: The Natural State, Dwight has been creating images of the natural landscape for more than 25 years.

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