How I Got the Shot: McCauley Mountain

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Human Slalom Course with Colored Flashlights, McCauley Mountain, Old Forge

Exposure Data:
Exposure: 15 seconds, f/3.2, ISO 320
Nikon D610, Nikkor 80-200mm lens set at 200mm.

Young skiers put on a visual spectacle at this year’s winter carnival at McCauley Mountain Ski Center, here maneuvering through a human slalom course while holding colored flashlights. About a dozen skiers performed this wandering slalom. Starting with the uppermost skier in each line, the skiers carved around the others, then rejoined their lines at the bottom of the group. Once all had a turn they repeated the process, until they eventually reached the base of the mountain. To me, it was like watching a colorful ballet on snow.

I shot the performance from below, with a telephoto lens on a tripod. Focusing was simple; I just auto-focused on the bright lights, but because the line of skiers was constantly re-arranging, composing proved difficult, a matter of timing. Ideally, I wanted to shoot a long exposure so that the light trails would wind through much of the image. So I began this shot as the first skiers went through. Since I was so far away, I didn’t need much depth of field; a wide aperture was sufficient. It also helped me gather light. Still the scene was so dark, even with the flashlights, that I needed to boost the ISO to 320 for my 15-second exposure. The result is nocturnal poetry in motion.

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). API has released its 2017 schedule, which includes the annual workshop with Adirondack Life magazine. For details on all their workshops, see For more on Mark’s work, visit

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