Behind the Lens: Sunrise on Raquette Lake

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Sunrise Perch, Raquette Lake

Exposure Data:
1/500 second, f/5, ISO 100
Nikon D80, Nikkor 80-400mm lens set at 174mm.

Using a telephoto zoom lens, I had been photographing the sun rising over giant white pines along Raquette Lake’s Otter Bay. The golden light, filtered by layers of thin clouds, was moody; the morning fog ethereal. I made several nice images of the sun and trees, including a classic shot of the sun seemingly perched on the upward curving limb of the tree in the middle here. For a different viewpoint, I zoomed the lens outward to include small bushes lining the bay in the foreground. The result had a completely different feel, an intimate portrait of the bushes and their home. By focusing on them and using a wide aperture, I threw the background out of focus, separating the main components of the image and giving the bushes top billing. Also, I chose to underexpose the image, with the bushes in silhouette, to emphasize their delicate forms. I framed the tallest off-center, creating a dynamic visual diagonal between it and the sun. The bush’s slight tilt was a bonus, implying a reverence for the new day.

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).  He will join Adirondack Life and API staff for the Adirondack Photography Weekend, September 18th-20th in Lake Placid. For details, and API’s schedule of fall photo workshops, see For more on Mark’s work, visit

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