Behind the Lens: Storm Light Reflections

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Storm Light Reflections, Rollins Pond

Exposure Data:
3 exposures: 1/5, 1/10, & 0.4 seconds, f/22, ISO 200
Nikon D300 Camera, Nikkor 12-24mm lens at 18mm

As June springs forth, my thoughts turn to my favorite photographic subject—water, in particular, lakes and ponds. I’m inexorably drawn to them. There’s so much to shoot; each is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing fluid dynamics. There’s the play of light across their surfaces, mirroring the weather’s many moods, the reflections of sky, mountains and the spring forest’s fresh greenery, the variety of wave patterns and colors. These waters, veritable gems in wilderness settings, become my artistic canvases.

On this quiet bay of Rollins Pond—one of myriad waters encompassed by the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest—whispering breezes barely rippled the surface. Gathering storm clouds, tinged by filtered sunlight, were reflected with mirror-like precision. Accordingly, I composed my image with the horizon in the middle of the frame. The clouds’ tattered edges and the symmetry of their reflections imply movement, making the image quite dynamic. It also has a three-dimensional feel, accentuated by the proximity of the brightest cloud and receding levels of the other clouds and forest. To control the highlights in the cloud tops and extract detail from the trees, I shot three separate exposures, one stop apart, and blended them as a high dynamic range image in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Beyond its own merits, however, this image affirms the many artistic possibilities presented by nature’s play of light across these stages. John Muir wrote, “Watching the circling seasons, listening to the songs of the waters and winds and birds, would be endless pleasure. And what glorious cloud-lands I would see, storms and calms, a new heaven and a new earth every day.” Amen!

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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