How I Got the Shot: Lower Ausable Lake

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Wind & Light Patterns, Lower Ausable Lake

Exposure Data:
Exposure: 1/200 second, f/9, ISO 100
Nikon D80, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 60mm.

For my In Stoddard’s Footsteps book project, I climbed the iconic Indian Head promontory to photograph the overview of Lower Ausable Lake from the exact same position that Seneca Ray Stoddard had over one hundred years earlier. Thankfully, and largely due to conservation efforts, our images are strikingly similar. My goal accomplished, I turned to my own artistic pursuits. Late-afternoon winds were creating interesting wave patterns on the lake. A small island was adrift in them. Sunlight accented the patterns in dazzling displays. They changed continually, like a running movie.  

Lower Ausable occcupies a fault gorge. I’ve often noticed on narrow bodies of water that waves will bounce off the shores and reverberate back, creating chaotic swells. They can make wonderful patterns, but are dangerous for paddlers. Seen from on high, subtle hues of yellow and blue colored the water. I could have opened up details in the landscape with a separate, longer exposure, then blended it with this image for one with an expanded contrast range, but this is a good example where silhouettes can be very effective. Here they enhance the pastels. I shot at a fast shutter speed to freeze the waves’ motion, insuring the patterns remained crisp. I also took some artistic license in processing, lessening the overall clarity. This softened the look of the waves, making the image a bit dreamier. But it’s the wind, water and light that made this scene magical.

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. Watch for his public presentations on the project. Mark is also a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute (API). API will release its 2017 schedule of events soon. For details see For more on Mark’s work, including his In Stoddard’s Footsteps book, visit

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