How I Got the Shot: Pink Lady Slippers

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Natural Garden of Pink Lady Slippers

Exposure Data:
1/100 second, f/2.8, ISO 100
Nikon D80, Nikkor 80-200mm lens set at 95mm.

I happened upon a profusion of pink lady slippers growing in a small marsh. As they are a threatened species, I won’t disclose the location. Hopefully they’ll continue to flourish here.

Contrary to the classic landscape technique of having everything in sharp focus, I decided to concentrate attention on the two nearest flowers by focusing on them, and shooting at a wide-open aperture to allow all else to go softly out of focus.  This simplified what was a visually chaotic scene and lent it a bit of mystery. Just how many lady slippers are here, and what else is there to explore in this natural garden? I positioned myself to arrange the softened, repeating forms of the heart-shaped petals in an oval pattern, to lead the viewer around the scene. The limited color palette—all pink and green—lends a welcoming feel to this woodland paradise.

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations to camera clubs, environmental groups and others. He recently released a new e-book, Finding November, about his quest to seek out the hidden beauty beyond the month’s bare trees and gray skies. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API). See API’s 2016 schedule of photo workshops, including the newly announced Bandon Beach, Oregon, trip, at For more on Mark’s work, visit


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