Sandy Hook N.J. Photography Hot Spot

The Snowy Owl at Sandy Hook

Respect the Snowy Owl

The Snowy Owl comes to New Jersey in the winter months. Sandy Hook, New Jersey, is a favorite place for the Snowy Owl. The Snowy Owl is one of the most captivating birds found in North America. It is not very common to sight the snowy owl. We recommend visiting in the winter months when you hear the snowy owl has been spotted in the area.

A large zoom lens of 600mm and up is ideal. Photographers should respect the natural habitats of these magnificent creatures. Capturing the snowy owl through photography is a privilege that should not be taken lightly. When photographing the Snowy Owl, it is important to be patient and quiet. These birds are easily disturbed, and any sudden noise or movement can cause them to fly away. Approach slowly and quietly, and try to blend in with your surroundings as much as possible.

Winter Weather at Sandy Hook

It is also important to dress warmly, as winter temperatures can be challenging. I recommend wearing layers, thermal underwear, and a good winter jacket. A pair of warm gloves and sturdy boots are also essential.

How to Photograph the Snowy Owl

When taking photographs of the Snowy Owl, it is best to use a tripod to stabilize your camera and prevent unwanted movement, and it’s easier than hand-holding it. A fast shutter speed is recommended, as the Snowy Owl is a fast-moving bird and can be challenging to capture in flight. Even though you may be photographing the snowy owl while he is sitting still, it may take flight at any moment—be prepared with a shutter speed of at least 1000 and adjust your ISO accordingly.  If it is a bright sunny day, go a little higher. It will be a scarce opportunity to get the snowy owl in flight as we did in the above picture.

Additionally, a large aperture can help create a shallow depth of field, separating the owl from its surroundings and making it stand out in your photographs. (The lowest aperture number is the largest aperture. Hint: Remember, it seems backward. F2.8 is a wide-open large aperture. F22 is closed, small aperture).

A Good Quality Camera

Regarding camera equipment, a full-frame DSLR camera with a high-quality zoom lens is recommended. The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV or Nikon D850 are excellent options for capturing stunning photos of the Snowy Owl. A 600mm lens or longer is ideal for capturing the bird in detail. If you don’t have access to a long-zoom lens, consider renting one for the occasion at the Photo Center in Brick, New Jersey.

Also, we buy all of our equipment at the Photo Center in Brick. They are family run and extremely knowledgeable. We have been using only them for over ten years.

Extra Eyes Photo Tours has an Acadia National Park Private Jet Tour that flys out of New Jersey


Sandy Hook offers a picturesque landscape for photography. The best time to capture its beauty is at any time, as sunrise and sunset create stunning lighting. In addition to the breathtaking views, this location is also a haven for birdwatchers, with opportunities to capture the graceful snowy owl in photographs. So whether you’re an early riser or prefer to chase the sun, Sandy Hook welcomes all photographers with open arms.

Winter sometimes brings the snowy owl to Sandy Hook, but our favorite times are spring and fall when there are no fees to enter the park and no crowds.


There is never a dull moment at Sandy Hook regarding photography. From the tall and proud lighthouse and the crashing waves to the shoreline dotted with colorful seashells, pebbles, and birds, there is endless beauty to capture. And if you venture beyond the sandy shores, you’ll find even more photo-worthy scenes in the surrounding area. Whether the vibrant wildflowers swaying in the breeze or the majestic birds soaring overhead, every step on a hike leads to new opportunities for stunning shots. So come prepared with extra memory cards because Sandy Hook will keep you busy all day, capturing nature’s finest moments.


Sandy Hook is located off Route 36 in Highlands. Its GPS address is 128 South Hartshorne Drive, Highlands, NJ 07732.


Yes! Plenty. Twin Lights Lighthouse is right next door.

2 Light House Rd
Highlands, NJ 07732

Also, visit our New Jersey photography hotspot page to see all the locations.


The areas to do photography don’t get too busy most of the year, but keep in mind this is a New Jersey Beach town, and of course, it will get a little busier on the weekends during the summer months.



  • A sturdy tripod will be vital for getting milky water silky shots.
  • A wide-angle lens will help you fit the majestic lighthouse and surrounding area into your frame.
  • Bring a telephoto lens and monopod for wildlife photography to help stabilize your camera.
  • Pack plenty of extra batteries and memory cards, as you’ll likely take many photos.
  • Bring your macro lens to photograph the vast and intricate details of the surrounding nature.
  • Pack an array of filters, from UV to polarized, to take the glare off the water and neutral density filters for long exposure to milky water effects.
  • Bring a spare set of fully charged batteries and extra memory cards; you never know when a perfect shot will present itself, and the last thing you want is your camera battery.


  • Organic bug repellent. (Non-organic is very toxic)
  • Organic Sun protection. (Non-organic sunscreen is a cancer cause.)
  • Durable hiking boots for any trail or terrain you may encounter.
  • Have a waterproof backpack or rain cover to protect your equipment.
  • Packaging a rain jacket and long pants.
  • A hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the elements.



You have moving subjects here such as birds, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to ensure your shutter speed is high enough to have your subject in sharp focus. Approximately 1/250th of a second is appropriate for people walking by, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they are moving fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/500th of a second. A fast bird flying by would be shot at about 1/1000th of a second. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as  1/1200th of a second. Remember, the higher your shutter speed, the less light comes into the camera. For More Details, see our Shutter Priority Page.


You can do your long-exposure running and milky water shots if you have moving waters at the location. You will have to use a tripod for this effect. Your settings will vary depending on the lighting and your neutral density filter. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters. ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. The aperture is f22, or the highest f-stop your camera will allow. Your shutter speed will be the only variable depending on the light. Roll your shutter speed until your meter reads zero. (In the center)  Use your shutter release or 2-second timer to prevent camera movement when exposing. You will want at least a 2-second exposure for milky water. If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. 

You can buy an ND filter here.  We highly suggest you do not go anywhere without one. Long exposure to moving waters makes all the difference between lifeless images and outstanding, dynamic images.


Aperture Priority is often used to blur the background of your images and control your depth of field (how much from the subject to the background is in focus). For more information on this – see our Aperture page 


The higher you set it, the more light is when exposing an image. The higher the number, the more digital noise, so stay below 800. If you need to go higher to get the shot, you can use Topaz Denoise to filter out the digital noise later. See the ISO page here.


Be sure to set your white balance each time the lighting changes. Auto mode is not always accurate on many cameras, and we prefer to set it manually. It’s one of the more straightforward basics of photography to master. If you need more help, you can get some more details here. See the white balance page here.


If you’re going to do the milky water photography shots here along the water, you must have a tripod and a neutral-density filter. Preparing before embarking on a waterfall photography excursion is always best. You can also explore long-exposure waterfall techniques by visiting our waterfall photography page for tips.

area information - photography



Sandy Hook, N.J. Information

Visitors Center – 732- 872-5970

  • The park is open daily from 6 am through 9 pm, except by permit.
  • There is a $20 daily charge for beach parking from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Credit cards are the preferred method of payment. Parking at Fort Hancock is always free.

It says the preferred method of payment. Next time we are in the area, we will investigate this. We are fighting back against the CBDC takeover and will boycott if we can’t use cash.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse: Open Friday-Monday from 1 to 3:30 pm. Tours are first-come, first-served.
Lighthouse Keepers Quarters and Visitor Center: Open Friday-Monday from 10 am to 4 pm starting May 5.
History House: Open Friday-Monday from 1 pm to 5 pm.

The Inlet Side of the island is Dog-Friendly, but there is no food on this side.



Do you want us to send our photography and ghost-hunting friends to your campground to stay during their ghost-hunting trip? Put your campground information here. We will put a picture of your establishment, the website link, the phone number, and the information on your campground to make it easy for our photographers and ghost hunters to find you. They are good at getting there in the dark.



Food: Some food stands are in the area by the crowds near the beach. Be prepared to park and walk and stand in line here. If you are there for photography, I recommend bringing snacks and water to avoid the crowded sections’ madness.

Seed to Sprout Avon & Fair Haven, New Jersey. Our Favorite Organic Restaurant.

Address: 560A River Rd, Fair Haven, NJ 07704
Phone: (732) 268-7533
Address: 410 Main St, Avon-By-The-Sea, NJ 07717
Phone: (732) 774-7333

Some food stands are here, but you might not find them when driving around. It’s a long island. Bring some snacks and drinks.

The best hotels while doing photography


You can add your hotel here for as little as $99 a year including images, links and more.

Would you like to be a featured hotel like this article or this one?  Please send us an email.  You will be surprised at how affordable our prices can be.



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Sandy Hook, N.J. Photography location, Where to do photography, Photography Hot Spots, Photography Areas, Where to do Photography near me, Where to do Photography in New Jersey.

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