Behind the Lens: White on White

by Mark Bowie | Photography

White On White

Exposure Data:
1/800 second, F/5, ISO 200
Nikon D300 Camera, Nikkor 18-70mm lens at 70mm

One of most beautiful winter scenes I’ve seen (but unfortunately didn’t shoot), was layers of receding mountains in the Wilcox Lakes Wild Forest from a roadside overlook. Individual evergreens were sprinkled amongst snow-covered hardwood forests—a white-on-white effect created by a heavy snow followed by severe cold. The flocked trees sparkled in the morning sun. I’ve been looking for similar conditions ever since.

I encountered them again, 2,000 feet up in a Cessna, over high peaks near Lake Placid, as pictured here. Snow flocked a predominantly hardwood forest scattered with stands of eastern white pines. As monochromatic as this looks, there are subtle color and textural variations. They give the image dimension; you sense the steepness of the terrain. As they climb the mountain, the bluish pines are isolated against hardwoods tinted white, beige and brown. As there are no leaves, the hardwoods’ dark trunks form a repeating pattern of dark vertical lines across the scene. Compositionally, including the opening above the ridgeline kept the image from becoming a pure abstract; it provides a sense of scale and allows a visual escape up and over it. In processing, I kept the brightest tones bright for a luminous look without overexposing them, so the textures in the tree canopy stand out well.

I dream of such snow-flocked forests again, when, until temperatures warm above freezing, the magical frosting decorates the trees for days on end.

Happy Holidays!


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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