I tried to capture this image for six years and each time the conditions were too windy. I wasn't overly optimistic this July when I strapped on a 60 pound pack and made the five-mile climb to Hyalite Lake in Montana's Gallatin Mountains, but as night settled in the gentle breeze which had blown on and off all afternoon completely laid down. For 24 minutes, there wasn't a breath of air allowing me to shoot with a pair of cameras - one dedicated to the near foreground and reflection, the other capturing the more distant mountains and Milky Way.
This was my most technically challenging shoot, involving tracking on a heavy equatorial mount, stacking multiple untracked images to reduce noise, and finally using a pair of modified 4000 Kelvin temp lights to illuminate the far shore of this beautiful alpine lake. Getting the exposure of the foreground reflection close to the stars in the sky above was not easy, nor was ensuring perfect alignment of each image, down to the reeds in the water and leaves on the shoreside willows.
Shortly after the last image that I needed was complete, a night breeze rippled the surface of the water and by morning had blown in smoke from Canadian wildfires raging north of Montana. But for almost half an hour, things in the universe seemed to slow down for me, allowing me a glimpse of what I have always imaged at this location after dark. The green airglow was amazing, flowing horizon to horizon, and the core of our galaxy was wonderfully defined.
This limited edition photo is offered in several sizes as a fine, archival-quality print and also on ready-to-hang aluminum. Each is signed and numbered and ships free to the lower 48.