How I Got the Shot: Late Autumn Whirlpools

Photograph by Mark Bowie


Late Autumn Whirlpools, East Branch of Stony Creek, Hamilton County

Exposure Data:
0.5 seconds, f/22, ISO 100 
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 12-24mm lens set at 12mm.
Beneath brooding storm clouds, late afternoon sunlight accents the banks of the East Branch of Stony Creek as autumn leaves swirl in its eddies. The current is backpedaling along a small bank that juts into the river, forming multiple vortices. Several smaller eddies swirl within a larger, oblong whirlpool. I’ve learned to watch for leaves, pine needles, foam and other debris caught and rotating—however slowly—in the eddies and pools beneath the cascades of streams, creeks and waterfalls, knowing that a long exposure will record them spinning like hurricanes. Here, I got down low and close to the creek’s edge with my widest lens to encompass all the whirlpools. I used the smallest aperture of my lens, f/22, and a polarizer to extend my shooting time. Additionally, I could have used neutral density filters to extend the exposure even longer, but I liked the motion and textures of the leaves and foam rendered in this shot. The polarizer cut glare off the surface of the water, creating a dark backdrop for the colorful leaves. Though the trees are becoming barer day by day, the beautiful autumn colors now decorate the creek. To the observant, there’s beauty to be found in all Adirondack seasons; not all of it where you might expect.

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute.  He is a sought-after public speaker, offering presentations to camera clubs, environmental groups and others. He will be leading his annual Adirondack Winter Workshop February 5th-8th in Inlet. API’s 2015 schedule of workshops and other events will soon be posted on their website, For more on Mark’s work, visit his website:


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