How I Got the Shot: Fog-Enshrouded Fall Foliage

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Photograph by Mark Bowie

Fog-enshrouded fall foliage in the Saranac River valley, Franklin County

Exposure Data:
3 exposures: 1/13, 1/25, and 1/50 sec, f/18, ISO 200
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 46mm

September is my favorite month to photograph the Adirondacks. As cold air descends the mountain slopes, mist and fog accumulate in low valleys and over the many waterways. It blends with the oncoming fall colors, resulting in magical scenery. With the transition from summer to fall, the first riotous colors often appear in low-lying marshes. The maples blaze red. Stunted oaks glow orange. Here along the Saranac River, a fog freeze has occurred; condensing on the colorful foliage as rime ice.

I was shooting towards the sun, and to capture the wide range of light from the brightest fog to the deepest shadows of the plants, I shot three separate exposures, one stop apart, and blended them in Photomatix Pro ( as a high dynamic range image. I added a little contrast to help differentiate the various grasses and ground cover, but not so much as to lose the gauzy effect of the fog and how it conveys depth.

There’s so much going on in this image. Note the rime ice on the leaves and grasses, the frozen spiderwebs, and the various pastel colors in the grasses and trees. Subtle tones separate different sections of grass, and a strong diagonal leads the eye from the circle of dark plants in the near left, along the line of woods, to the fog-bound trees in the back right. It keeps this busy scene from being overly chaotic. The overall exposure is bright and airy, accented by the frozen tassels of grass peeking above the morass. They look joyous and fun, as if celebrating the new season.

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 recently released a new e-book, Finding November, about his quest to discover the month’s hidden beauty beyond its bare trees and gray skies. It full of lessons on the Art of Seeing. 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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