Behind the Lens: The Raquette’s Stately Maples

by | Photography

The Raquette’s Stately Maples

Exposure Data:
1/125 second, F/9, ISO 100
Nikon D610 Camera, Nikkor 24-70mm lens at 26mm

Paddlers on the Raquette River between Long and Tupper Lakes will have noticed it is lined, in places, with flowing stands of swamp maples (I use that name generically). These trees are a rather rare sight in the Adirondacks, yet they adorn this meandering waterway for many miles. Likely they find both nutrients and solace in the distinctive habitat formed by the river channel’s seasonal migrations, the creation of cut-off oxbows and silty backwater lagoons.

I had initially photographed this stand of maples at Axton Landing from the side, a flat-on vantage point 90 degrees from the view shown here, but it wasn’t until I walked out onto a grassy peninsula to view them head-on, that the majesty of their splaying limbs was revealed. I like the symmetry created by the advancing line of trees, with the graceful pose of the foremost maples, the river on the right, and a marshy pond on the other side.

The colors were rather drab on this overcast autumn day, and many leaves were already off the trees, so I figured I’d convert the original color image to black-and-white in processing. And when I did, the remaining bright leaves glowed with a brilliant luminosity, especially against the dark trunks of the swamp maples. Filtered sunlight and the trees’ shadows left the marsh grasses in alternating areas of light and shadow, sculpting them and adding depth to the image. And the backdrop of fluffy clouds provides a soft textural contrast to the delicate, fine lines of the trees.

The “discovery” of this spot and the photographic potential latent within these stately maples was a revelation. I wonder what others lie around the river’s bend, and the next, and the next…


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. API has posted their 2020 workshop schedule, which includes Mark’s popular winter workshop and two night photography summer workshops. For the program descriptions and to register, see API’s website: For more on Mark’s work, visit

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