Behind the Lens: Blue Ridge Falls

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Tumbling over Terraces, Blue Ridge Falls

Exposure Data:
3 seconds, f/36, ISO 100
Nikon D610 Camera, Nikkor 80-400mm lens at 280mm

‘Tis the season for gushing water. Combine that with colorful Adirondack geology and, photographically, you’re onto something. Here at Blue Ridge Falls in Essex County, the Branch, partially fed by Elk Lake, tumbles over bedrock terraces that have been jointed into blocky patterns. Over eons, the water has carved potholes and other erosional features, and polished the rock to reveal alternating cool blue and warmer gold tones. You can scramble into the stream bed for up-close-and-personal compositions of ribbons of water streaming over ledges and sluicing down rock slides.

The look of flowing water in images is highly dependent on the selected shutter speed. I do test shots at various speeds, and zoom in on the images on the LCD screen to see which look I like best. Here, I wanted the water to appear silky, yet with some texture in the ribbons to give it structure. A three-second exposure did the trick. I also wanted to keep the water luminous in processing, which accentuates the colorful rock.

Zooming in with a long telephoto lens, I framed this scene with rock on three sides, to concentrate the viewer’s eye on the water’s tumultuous journey as it cascades from one ledge to another. Still unspent, the water moves on, seemingly forever followed by more.

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. His next API workshop, June 23rd-26th, is in the Finger Lakes region, photographing waterfalls. For information and to register, see API’s website: For more on Mark’s work, visit

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