Stars Shining on Water

The bright galactic center of the Milky Way shot up from the horizon—a fountain of light bursting high into the night sky…

Lake Nicasio has long been a favorite haunt of mine. Since arriving in West Marin County in 1973, I’ve been drawn to photograph the shapes and light at the placid waters there. I drive past the lake often while leaving Point Reyes for destinations beyond here. To this day, I’m struck by its sensual, curving shoreline ringed by rounded hills and ridges. It’s an ethereal place and during quiet times, the waters reflect the soft hills that ring the lake. On certain days, I’ve walked along the edges of the lake with my camera, lost in sweet reverie. I went there on sunny afternoons and foggy mornings, when the air was still, and photographed the reflections I found there.

In 2016 I began photographing the wonders of the starry night sky. I returned to some of my favorite vistas not far from my Point Reyes home. I wondered what a starry sky would look like reflecting in still waters. Lake Nicasio came to mind—how could I forget! So, in late October, I arrived at a roadside turnout near the lake. It was several hours after sunset on a moonless night. The air was clear and still and the Milky Way was rising just south of the iconic folds of Black Mountain.

As I walked along the roadside, I noticed a sign prohibiting visits to the lake after sunset. It was there to discourage fishing or camping at night. Since I was doing neither, I decided to take my chances. Still, though, I felt like a thief in the night as I prepared to make my way toward the water’s edge. I looked around then ducked low and quickly wove my way through the brush to the lake’s shore. I was cautious, not wanting to draw attention to my “stealth” visit there.

In a couple of minutes I was standing on the shore. A wondrous sight was revealed. With no wind, the still water reflected the brightest stars above. The bright galactic center of the Milky Way shot up from the horizon— a fountain of light bursting high into the night sky. For a moment I was struck still by the sight. Then, regaining my composure, I set my camera on the tripod. I aimed it for a composition that I hoped would express some of the wonder I felt as I witnessed the galactic display. Milky Way Reflecting at Lake Nicasio is the featured photo for June in the Point Reyes Starry Nights 2023 wall calendar.

A few weeks later, I went to the coast to find stars reflecting on still waters.  Abbotts Lagoon, Stars from the Bridge, heads the month of September in the 2023 wall calendar.

And in 2018, just a couple of hundred yards from my home, I photographed Milky Way Rises, Lagunitas Creek in the wetlands along the Green Bridge Trail. It is November in my Starry Nights 2023 wall calendar.

5 comments on “Stars Shining on Water

  1. Marty,
    I find your Nicasio Res. shot especially tranquil, nicely composed, and with lovely tonal quality. The band of bright water at the base of the hills (and above the reflection of the hills) really adds something special to this shot.

  2. sThose are wonderful! What a cue – find a similar sky reflected in three different locations in a similar way!
    Beautiful! And thanks for the Calendar preview.

  3. Marty:

    Otherworldly–gives us a deeper view of the world that our eyes fail to detect in our haste and inattention. A B&W Webb Telescope-like image that amazes and thrills.

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