Star trails are reflected on the surface of Lake McDonald, in Glacier National Park, Montana. Lake McDonald Lodge glows warmly along the distant shore.
Behind the lens.
I can't begin to tell you how hard it is to create an image like this. Photographing dim stars is one thing, but trying to record the much dimmer reflections of stars on the surface of a lake is even more challenging.
Just to make it more fun, there's also a small creek entering the lake off-camera to the left. So even though it's windless, there are small, one-half inch compression waves on the lake surface. These small waves act to spread out each stars' pinpoint reflection into a constantly wiggling line.
Persistence and patience usually pay off, eventually. So after only two or three attempts, I finally caught the stars on the water.
It all happened one night at Lake McDonald. Star trails sweep across the sky. A crescent moon is reflected on the water. The golden glow of pre-dawn, and the faint glow of Lake McDonald Lodge. Underwater stones along the shore complete the image. The night was photographed exactly as it happened, and it was captured in a way that we can never see in real time.
Behind the lens.
This one image is a combination of three different photography techniques, all performed without moving the camera. Startrails are captured with a time exposure, underwater rocks are highlighted via light painting, and the crescent moon and reflection is your normal press-the-shutter-once image.
This lake and mountain scene has been photographed millions of times by pretty much every visitor and every professional photographer that has landed on the shores of Lake McDonald. That is, millions of times in the daylight. All of the colors and textures that I have captured here were created on a totally dark and mostly moonless night in Glacier National Park.
Inside the box is boring -- photography is much more interesting outside the box.
Northern lights pulse and sway over Lake McDonald, in Glacier National Park, just after midnight on April 23rd of 2012.