Behind the Lens: Pine Tree in Floodwood Pond

by | Photography

Pine Tree in Floodwood Pond, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest

Exposure Data:
1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200
Nikon D300, Nikkor 18-70mm lens set at 55mm.

I came across this downed tree during an early-morning excursion on one of my popular photography workshops conducted by canoe. Technically, this isn’t the most impressive image. It’s chaotic. Shot handheld at a wide aperture, it isn’t in sharp focus throughout. There are sun flares. I debated even about shooting it, but it has an abstract appeal. From the morass, several eye-catching features emerge: the splaying patterns of the branches, backlit in a range of colors by the rising sun; luxuriant lichen covering the branches; the zone of bleached red left behind by the former waterline; and the contrasting textures of limbs and leaves. If you look closely you’ll find several batches of pine cones. The water is peaceful, the small ripples from my boat. The deeper you look, the more you’ll discover.

The image also underscores several photographic lessons: seek and be receptive to nature’s visual treasures. Bring a camera with you everywhere—whether a camera phone or sophisticated digital SLR—on land and on water. You never know when or where treasures will appear. Shoot with your instincts and your heart. Experiment freely. Break the rules of composition, exposure and subject selection. Go beyond your preconceptions. Nature is ever-changing; the creative possibilities, infinite.

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

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