How I Got the Shot: Autumn Tea Party

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Autumn Tea Party, Black Bear Brook, Hamilton County

Exposure Data:
3 exposures: 1/3, 1/6, and 1/11 second, all at f/16 and ISO 200
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 48mm.

My camera is a vehicle for discovery, and the Adirondacks provides a steady stream of amazing subject matter. One autumn, a couple days of heavy rain had swollen local waterways. Black Bear Brook, typically a peppy little waterway flowing between massive, moss-covered boulders, became a raging torrent. Tannins leached from the soils stained it a surprisingly rich orange hue; it looked like flowing tea. 

Soft overcast light made the autumn colors glow. Still, there was a large contrast range between the bright water and darkest forest. Cameras are unable to record the extreme spectrum of light our eyes can decipher. To capture the wide range here, I shot three exposures and later combined them in Photomatix Pro software ( to produce a high dynamic range (HDR) image. I had to fix a few small digital artifacts in the moving water, but overall the software blended the images remarkably well. There are no blown-out highlights and you can see well into the shadows of the forest. I shoot HDRs as a tool, to closely replicate what I saw in the field. But more importantly, what I discovered on this occasion was a rare scenario —a quiet brook transformed into a natural tea party.

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 look beyond the bare trees and gray skies to discover the month’s hidden beauty. It’s full of lessons in the art of seeing. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API). For details on all API events, see For more on Mark’s work, visit

Related Stories

On Newsstands Now

Adirondack Homes & Camps 2023

Celebrating our regional style, from rustic showplaces and historic resorts to modern lakeside living—plus design must-haves, decor how-tos and the ultimate green home by Bill McKibben.
  • Adirondack Life Digital Edition

Adirondack Life Magazine

Subscribe Today!

Latest Articles


Follow Us

Adirondack Life Store

for calendars, apparel, maps and more!