How I Got the Shot: Snow on the Ausable River

Photograph by Mark Bowie


Fresh Snow on the Ausable River, near Keene, Essex County

Exposure Data:
Exposure Unrecorded
Toyo 4×5 view camera, Nikkor 75mm lens, Fuji Velvia 50 film
Early winter is one of my favorite times to photograph water. Intriguing ice formations line the banks, but otherwise flowing waters are still open. Fresh snowfalls highlight details, textures and patterns along the shores. They soften and simplify busy scenes and hide imperfections in the landscape.  The cross-hatched patterns of evergreen branches, for example, stand out clearly, as do autumn’s last oak leaves, such as these overhanging the Ausable. Beneath overcast skies, long exposures make the water run silky blue-gray. In sunny conditions, the water and ice reflect myriad shades of blue.

I photographed this scene with a large-format view camera, a wide-angle lens and film. I didn’t record the exposure, but I’d guesstimate it to be about one-second, at a small aperture for good depth of field. The oak branches and background trees are all in focus. The perspective of shooting beneath the tree makes the image. The branches sweep overhead and lead your eye to the large boulder. Note, too, how the curving line of foreground ice and midstream snow-covered boulders reinforces this from below. Also, I stood high enough so as to include only a small portion of the detailless sky, and to frame the lowest snow-covered oak leaves against the flowing water. Fresh snow and flowing water—ingredients for a winter wonderland!

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute. He is a much 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 workshop schedule will soon be posted on their website, For more on Mark’s work, visit his website:


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For Great Black-and-White Shots, Start in Color
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Shooting Flowing Water
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