Behind the Lens: Ethereal Flight

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Ethereal Flight, Harrietstown

Exposure Data:
1/500 second, F/13, ISO 100
Nikon D7000 Camera, Nikkor 80-200mm lens at 200mm (300mm full frame equivalent)

Long lenses offer unique benefits for landscape photography. We can use them to optically extract specific elements, essentially taking them out of context of the surrounding environment. As if using binoculars, I like to scan grand landscapes with telephoto lenses to see what I can’t make out with my own eyes. At times it’s magical, and I discover features I had no idea were present, or how different features juxtapose with one another. I learn to isolate and enlarge them from their surroundings. Long lenses not only magnify distant subjects, they also compress perspective, thereby accentuating layers in the landscape. From Harrietstown, with a 300mm equivalent lens, I zeroed in on waves of early morning fog drifting over a boreal bog, colored by the rising sun. The foothills of the Stephenson Range rose hauntingly in the distance. Two birds—I presume crows—cruised above, seemingly alone in this vast wilderness. To be sure to freeze their motion, I selected a shutter speed of 1/500 second.

I processed this image dark, with a warm tone, to communicate the mysteriousness I sensed. Encompassed in the undulating fog, the tamaracks try to poke through—some of their steeple-like shapes dark and distinct, others light and ghostly. The layers of black forests and nearly invisible mountains contribute to the mood.

I envy the birds. To soar over such grandeur must be liberating. From my distant vantage point, I could be content to just get a glimpse into their world.

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. Mark and fellow instructor Chris Murray will be joining magazine staffers for the Weekend with Adirondack Life workshop, September 20th–22nd, one of four fall workshops API is offering this year. For information and to register, see API’s website: For more on Mark’s work, visit

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