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How I Got the Shot: Morning Mist and Fall Colors at Fly Pond

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Title: Morning Mist and Fall Foliage, Fly Pond, near Eagle Bay

Exposure Data: 2 seconds, f/16, ISO 200
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 62mm

Leaf peepers and photographers alike stream to the Adirondacks in October for peak fall foliage, which surely is spectacular. However, my favorite time to photograph the North Country’s colorful forests is the transition between summer and fall—mid- to late-September. Most mornings, as cooler air passes over the summer-warmed lakes and ponds, fog billows above the waters, softening the blues of the sky and greens of the forest. The ambiance is ripe for photographing dreamscapes with moodiness and atmosphere.

I don’t know who wrote this, but it’s apt: “In the mist, a tree knows no other.” Mist simplifies landscape compositions, hiding visual imperfections and reducing clutter. It lessens contrast and diffuses domineering autumn colors. Form and texture consequently become important visual cues.

Fly Pond is a small beaver flow surrounded by a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. Wavy marsh grasses lead one’s eye to the pond and forest beyond. The grasses’ soft textures blend with the mist. On September mornings, hundreds of white spider-web cups perch atop the grasses. For this image, I layered grasses and spider webs with fog and forest. The pre-dawn light cast the swirling mist and the tree trunks with a bluish tint, a pleasing counterpoint to the earth tones. For the centerpiece of this image, I selected maples tinged in magenta, orange and yellow surrounded by greenery. Their curves add a lyrical movement. This scene a couple of weeks later—when all the hardwoods are ablaze with color—would be very photogenic, but without fog, it would lack the intimacy and serenity conveyed in this image. Subtle hues can be a more impactful than riotous color.

Mark Bowie recently released his second e-book on night photography, AFTER MIDNIGHT, which supplements his first comprehensive guide, The Light of Midnight: Photographing the Landscape at Night. They are available as digital downloads from his website, www.markbowie.com.  He and other Adirondack Photography Institute staff photographers will partner with Adirondack Life for the annual Adirondack Photography Weekend workshop, September 20–22, in Lake Placid. For information, see www.adkpi.org.

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