Behind the Lens: Night Rain & Moonbow

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Night Rain & Moonbow, Follensby Clear Pond

Exposure Data:
8 seconds, F/2.8, ISO 3200
Nikon D600 Camera, Nikkor 24-700mm lens at 24mm

Many night photographers target the Milky Way to the neglect of other subjects. Our home galaxy is indeed grand and glorious, but there’s so much more beauty to discover shooting a variety of nocturnal situations, in all seasons—whether the Milky Way is visible or not, the sky clear or cloudy, the moon big or small.

On a summer night at Follensby Clear Pond, in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, a window in towering cumulus peered out upon a starry sky. Beneath the stars, I captured this nocturnal rainbow—cast not by sunlight, of course, but by moonlight. You can actually see sheets of rain near the moonbow. Note also that the moon cast fill light on the landscape; instead of silhouetted trees, we’re treated to details in the forest and reflections on the water. The moonlight allowed me to record the scene with an eight-second exposure at a “comfortable” ISO of 3200; there’s minimal digital noise.

I wonder, in the depths of the night, what are we all missing? Like a space explorer, I want to experience the little-experienced, thrill to their sensations, and record the beauty across a spectrum of celestial phenomena.  We have the technology; digital cameras are allowing us to “see” where we physically can’t. That we can capture celestial details in relation to the nocturnal Adirondack landscape is absolutely stellar.

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 annual API night photography workshop, this year from July 28th-August 1st, is sold out. He plans to offer two night workshops in summer 2020, one around the Perseid meteor shower, the other during a small moon. For information and to register, see API’s website: For more on Mark’s work, visit

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