Behind the Lens: Reflected Totem

by Mark Bowie | Photography

Photographs by Mark Bowie


Reflected Totem

Exposure Data:
1/40 Second, F/10, ISO 100
Nikon D80 Camera, Nikkor 12-24mm lens at 18mm

It’s late May and the mix of deciduous trees and evergreens on the cliffs above Chapel Pond are in full springtime regalia. Along the shoreline, birches glow electric lime green. Not a whisper of a breeze touches the surface of the water, and the rock and trees are reflected with precision. Giant patterns emerge, reminiscent of flint arrowheads.

I experimented with different compositions; my favorite tightly framed the cliffside above and below the waterline. It’s graphic and bold, but given the strong symbolism, I decided to try an artistic technique that often produces a compelling effect on symmetrical reflections—turning the image on end to create an abstract totem pole. In Adobe Lightroom, I rotated the image through all four sides to see which version looked best. Rotating it 90 degrees, placing the wedge of dark shadow at the base, visually anchored it. To accentuate differences in light and shadow, and consequently, bring out the complexity of the details, I converted the image to black and white using a luminosity mask in Photoshop. Astounding! The cliff’s two dark gullies spread like wings, the rock and trees became a fabric woven with intricate patterns. But it’s the trunks of those birches that capture the eye, splaying out from the center shoreline, bright filaments stacked upwards to an immaculate headdress.

All that from a quiet morning at a small Adirondack pond…

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’s summer and fall workshops are still on, but that could change as health conditions warrant. For the latest information, see API’s website:, or ask to be added to the contact list. And please visit Mark’s newly launched website, www.markbowie.comto view image galleries and keep abreast of his workshops, presentations and product releases.

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