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Depth of Field: The Story Behind the Image


Winter has come early this year. As I write this article, the temperature outside is hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit and a crusty layer over snow blankets the ground. A long winter lies ahead. It is still technically fall, however, and rather than snow, I prefer to remember the ground covered in a layer of gold.


Title: Forest Gold
Exposure Data:
Two exposures, 1/160 sec and 1/10 sec, f/16, ISO 400
Nikon D800E camera, Nikkor 16-35mm lens at 28mm

Fall color is late to arrive on the islands due to the moderating effect the relatively warm River has on temperatures. One day, in late October, this year found me wandering the campgrounds at Wellesley Island State Park on a sunny but brisk autumn afternoon.

One reason I love this time of year is that the campgrounds are closed for the season and devoid of people. I encountered not a single soul as I explored the area, reveling in the sunshine and the abundance of yellow and gold hues. I happened upon this spot, where the forest floor was blanketed in yellow maple seedlings and fallen leaves, bathed in warm sunlight streaming through the trees. After patiently deciding on where to set my tripod (the most important decision) I set about photographing the scene.

As I was shooting into the sunlight, I knew it would be difficult to adequately capture the scene with only one exposure. (Camera sensors are unable to record the contrast range that the human eye can detect). I shot two exposures, varying only the shutter speed, one to accurately resolve the highlights and one for the shadows. In photoshop, I combined the two, using a luminosity mask to arrive at the final composite image.

Fidelity to actual appearances is not my usual goal with photography, though in this situation I found it appropriate.

I view photography as a personally expressive medium. My intent is not to simply document a scene, but rather to make evident my thoughts and feelings about the scene.

By Chris Murray

Chris Murray is a full-time photographer, instructor, and writer. His work has appeared in several magazines including Popular Photography, Shutterbug, Adirondack Life, Life in the Finger Lakes, and New York State Conservationist, among others. He is a staff instructor with the Adirondack Photography Institute. API’s 2019 workshop schedule is now available at For more of Chris’ work visit

Posted in: Photography, Nature
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Waltraud I. Mack
Comment by: Waltraud I. Mack
Left at: 4:41 AM Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Indeed, the perfect shot. Congratulation, a excellent photograph.

Waltraud Mack