Behind the Lens: Ring in the New Year

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Ring in the New Year

Exposure Data:
Two exposures: each 1/30 second, F/16, ISO 100
Nikon D610 Camera, Nikkor 14-24mm lens at 17mm

On a frigid afternoon during my 2018 winter photography workshop, we visited a series of ponds in the Saranac Lakes Wild Forest. The day had been quite clear, the sky not very photogenic. But in late afternoon, a weather front moved in. Cirrus clouds flared over Polliwog Pond. As the sun set we watched in growing awe as a semi-circular halo was projected onto the clouds, created as sunlight was refracted through suspended ice crystals. To cap it off, a bright “diamond,” seen here, glowed atop the ring. These atmospherics are relatively common in such conditions, and I’ve learned to watch for them.  Where clear, the sky was vibrant blue, and it lent its hues to the reflective ice. The low-angled sunlight on the clouds created a striking color contrast against the cold blues, which in the near-zero-degree temperature at least helped warm our souls. A multitude of colors also shone on the ice, and the surrounding forest filtered them into distinct bands.

I wanted to encompass the splaying clouds and their colorful reflections in a single shot, but that wasn’t possible, even with my wide-angle zoom. So I took two overlapping shots—one mainly for the sky, the other for the ice—with the camera oriented horizontally, and later stitched them in Photoshop to create this vertical panorama. Determining exposure was straightforward. With the sunlight being diffused by the clouds, and the ice’s reflectivity, a single exposure setting could capture details in both. In processing, I made localized adjustments to contrast in the sky to better define the clouds, and to the ice to bring out the colorful stripes. They look as if they’re reflected in liquid water. It was far from liquid, but still, nature granted us this symbolic gesture for ringing in the new year.

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and blessed time exploring the Adirondacks.


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 winter workshop, from February 9-12 in Lake Placid, and two night photography summer workshops. For the program descriptions and to register, see API’s website:

Special Note: Please watch for the launch of Mark’s completely renovated website, with new image galleries, time-lapse sequences and video, happening soon at

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