Behind the Lens: Dancing Shadows near Eagle Bay

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Dancing Shadows, near Eagle Bay

Exposure Data:
1/160 sec, f/18, ISO 100
Nikon D80 Camera, Nikkor 80-200mm lens at 185mm

Some images you know are special the moment you trip the shutter; a rare few become pleasant surprises “discovered” as you review your files long afterwards. This image is one such case. I was obviously compelled to shoot it, but it sat forgotten in my computer for years, until recently. I now find it mesmerizing.

Several key aspects unite this composition. I carefully positioned the camera to visually separate the shrubs. Each stands out in its own right, and our eyes can wander from one to another and delight in their intricate forms. Note how the layers of rolling hummocks, the light and shadows, the dancing shrubs, all pull you back through this winterscape. The low-angled late-afternoon light grazes the snow, and individual crystals sparkle. Snow is highly reflective. Scouting early and late on blue-sky days can reveal dramatic blue shadows that contour the landscape, adding depth and dimension. Most tantalizingly here, shadows of the little leaves are projected onto the snow. They offer a narrative: life seemingly dancing with joy under harsh conditions.

That day, I also took shots of single shrubs isolated in the mounded snow. They had been my favorites from this location, but this richer composition has so many embellishments that, over time, I’ve come to appreciate it more. Compositionally, less is often more. For me, not here.

Mark Bowie is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Life magazine and a much sought-after public speaker, offering presentations for conferences, camera clubs and other groups. He is a staff instructor for the Adirondack Photography Institute. He will be leading his Adirondack Winterscapes workshop February 10th–13th in Lake Placid. For information and to register, see API’s website: You can get details on all of API’s 2019 workshops there. For more on Mark’s work, visit

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