How I Got the Shot: Snowstorm in a Forest

Photograph by Mark Bowie


“Snowstorm in a Forest Near Tupper Lake”

Exposure Data:
1/125 second, f/4.5, ISO 200 
Nikon D7000, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 70mm.

In a raging snowstorm near Tupper Lake, I made this very textural image of snow falling on a tree-covered hillside. After some experimentation, I ultimately selected a shutter speed sufficiently fast to freeze the motion of the snowflakes and juxtapose them against the backdrop of trees, ice and rock ledges; 1/125 second gave the image a stippled, somewhat chaotic effect that lent mystery and intrigue. I shielded my lens as best I could and shot from a tripod. Snowflakes that were very close to the lens appear as diffuse white blobs. It took several attempts to capture an image in which they weren’t overly obtrusive.  

For visual interest, I placed the tannin-stained icefall off-center in my frame. The leaning tree adds dynamic tension, leading your eye from the ice toward the background. And the snow capping the rock ledges forms a lyrical path toward the icefall. The result is a beautifully symmetrical flow to what could have been an overly busy image. I would normally prefer scenes like this—so rich in form and texture—in black and white. However, here the green tint of the woods, the orangish ice, the beige-colored leaning tree and white snow form a pleasing, narrow color palette. It’s nearly monochromatic.

Mark Bowie is a staff photographer with the Adirondack Photography Institute. He will lead their Adirondack Winter Weekend workshop February 13th-16th. Visit for the Institute’s schedule of photography workshops and tours, in the Adirondacks and elsewhere.

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