How I Got the Shot: Canoes on Rollins Pond

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Photograph by Mark Bowie


Photograph by Mark Bowie

Canoes & Rowboat, Rollins Pond

Exposure Data:
1/30 SEC, f/8, ISO 400
Nikon D610, Nikkor 80-200mm lens set at 200mm.

Each time I go out photographing is a learning experience. Sometimes the light and the compositional elements come together in a virtuoso performance and I’m able to create the special image I envisioned. Other times I miss the mark by not seeing the possibilities before me. This is frequently pointed out when I enlarge my images on a computer screen. The image at top of canoes and rowboats reflected in a quiet Rollins Pond is a case in point. It’s quaint enough, and the narrow color palette of greens, browns, yellows and gray adds to the atmosphere. There’s even a fortuitous compositional triangle between the red leaves in the woods, the red leaf on the shoreline, and the red sticker on the rowboat, that helps bind the scene together. Upon further reflection, not a bad image. But I shouldn’t have stopped there.

What if I had zoomed in with a longer lens on the patterns created by the overturned canoes and their reflections, disregarding the rowboat and forest? I’d have captured dominant lines and forms, in a narrower color scheme that emphasized the shapes even more. And there are many different compositions within the canoes, both horizontals and verticals. Some could fit the standard 2×3 format, or I could have cropped to custom dimensions, or shot panoramas. I could have zoomed in on the lines of the canoe hulls as they dipped towards the shore, or zoomed in on the bow reflections as shown in the cropped image at bottom. Or I could have pulled back a little to include the rich browns of the the bows surrounded by the bright grays of the hulls and their reflections. So many opportunities in one intimate scene.

The lesson: For powerful compositions, seek out dominant subject matter—lines, shapes, colors—and accentuate them.  Eliminate all other elements that detract from them.

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations to camera clubs, environmental groups and others. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API) and will help lead the Weekend with Adirondack Life Magazine workshop and two other fall workshops.  For details on all API events, see For more on Mark’s work, visit

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