How I Got the Shot: Snow Patterns and Gazebo on Fourth Lake, Fulton Chain

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Snow Patterns and Gazebo on Fourth Lake, Fulton Chain

Exposure Data:

2 exposures: each 15 seconds, f/9, ISO 1600
Nikon D610, Nikkor 24-70mm lens set at 27mm.

Swirling winds sculpt snow into beautiful patterns on frozen Adirondack waters. Close inspection reveals intricate and often subtle nuances of shapes and textures. I found these ridges colored in pastel hues of blue and purple by artificial lights at Fourth Lake. The cool shades contrasted with the warm, golden tones of the gazebo. To accentuate the foreground ridges and make them the dominant compositional element, I lowered my tripod and got down as low and close to them as I could with a wide-angle lens.

Even with the nearby lights, the scene was quite dark. I wanted good depth of field, so I selected an aperture of f/9. To gather enough light, I boosted the camera’s ISO to 1600 and shot for 15 seconds. The exposure brought out the delicate colors and details of the snow. However, upon reviewing the image on the LCD screen, I saw that even at f/9 I couldn’t hold sharp focus from the swirls to the gazebo. I could have changed the aperture to f/16 for better depth of field, but it would have required a much longer shutter speed and the wind might have shaken the camera. Instead, I decided to shoot two images at the same exposure settings as my original—the first focused on the swirls, the second on the gazebo—then combine them in Photoshop using a process called focus stacking. As seen here, it did a terrific job automatically blending the sharpest parts of each exposure into one image with sharp focus throughout.

Mark Bowie specializes in night photography and is a staff photographer with the Adirondack Photography Institute. He has authored two e-books on night photography, available for download from his website, He will lead the Institute’s Photographing the Night Landscape workshop July 27th-31st. Visit for the Institute’s 2014 schedule of events.