How I Got the Shot: Potholes along Mill Creek

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Potholes along Mill Creek, near Wevertown, Warren County

Exposure Data:
3 exposures: 1/2, 1, and 2 seconds, all at f/16 and ISO 200 
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 18mm.

Flowing water produces unique landscape features. Scoured into bedrock over eons, textbook examples of potholes line Mill Creek. Even small brooks and creeks are relentless sculptors. The rushing water swirls pebbles, cobbles and large boulders in eddies, slowly scooping out rounded holes. Note that some of the potholes here are perfectly circular and others, like the large one at right, have been further eroded into arcs.

I visited on a hazy summer afternoon. The light was misty and ethereal. Still, there was a wide range of contrast between the forest, creekbed and water—beyond my camera’s ability to capture detail in the highlights and shadows in a single exposure.  So I shot three separate exposures—one medium-toned; another, one stop lighter; and a third, one stop darker—and later combined them Photomatix Pro software to produce this high dynamic range image. The software compressed the range of tones to closely reflect what I saw; there are no blown-out highlights in the water and you can see well into the shadows.  

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a sought-after public speaker, offering presentations to camera clubs, environmental groups and others. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API). For their 2015 workshop offerings, with descriptions and pricing, see For more on Mark’s work, visit his website:

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