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How I Got the Shot: Frosty Sunrise Over Browns Tract Inlet and Raquette Lake

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Title: Frosty Sunrise Over Browns Tract Inlet and Raquette Lake

Exposure Data: 1/20 second, f/16, ISO 100
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 27mm

With autumn’s glorious colors having fallen from the trees, November can seem stark, yet this transitional “off” season presents some unique and wonderful shooting opportunities. Many still-vibrant leaves carpet the forest floor, their final colors flaming before they shrivel and turn brown. There is great beauty in decay. Look closely and note the leaves’ seemingly unnatural colors: aquamarines, lavenders, peaches, and russet reds shot through with veinlets of gold.

As the November sun moves farther south and lower in the sky, its rays slant at oblique angles, highlighting the landscape with short-lived but intense hues. Some of the most dramatic sunsets of the year occur in November. With less moisture in the atmosphere, clouds are generally fewer and more scattered. They light up in brilliant sunsets, colored with the cold blues, aquamarines, pinks and tangerines peculiar to the onset of winter. I specifically scout west-facing scenes with interesting foreground elements to frame against the dramatic skies.

Foggy and frosty mornings are commonplace. We may see the first hard frosts and significant snows. Waters are still open, but snow and ice outline them and create intricate formations along their banks. I found this tamarack bog along Browns Tract Inlet covered with an early frost. Mackerel clouds spanned the sky and were reflected in the quiet waterway. The scene’s blue-white palette was enhanced with greens and yellows as the rising sun backlit the trees. To capture this high-contrast scene, I shot three exposures, one stop apart, and later composited them as a high dynamic range image in Photomatix Pro software (www.hdrsoft.com, $99, Photomatix Essentials is $39). The result brought out shadow details in the trees while preserving highlights in the fog and sky. The stream forms a strong diagonal, leading your eye towards the lake and reflecting the tamaracks like a mirror. I positioned myself so that the tamarack reflections didn’t touch the near shore. Also note how the alternating bands of shadow and light on the marsh grasses add depth and dimensionality to the foreground.

Mark Bowie explores each season in-depth in The Adirondacks: In Celebration of the Seasons. All of his books, including his new night photography e-book, After Midnight, are available on his newly renovated website, www.markbowie.com. Mark is a staff photographer with the Adirondack Photography Institute, which will again offer a wide range of photography workshops and tours in 2014. Visit www.adkpi.org for schedules and program descriptions.

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