I have always loved Lake Ediza, and have thought on it often over my career. There was a Milky Way image from 2014 I had mixed feelings about, and there is another successful 4x5 from 1998, with flowers and the Lake on an August afternoon. I was happy with the latter, but have been wanting to make a different concept of the nighttime 2014 version. I made the trip late one July afternoon this summer with a good friend who started as a workshop student. It was harder to make the walk this time--every year makes a difference! We arrived at exactly the same location, and in an instant I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted details of the Minarets and a sharp image of the Milky Way, with reflections of the stars on Lake Ediza. There are sometimes images like these when I arrive without a specific plan. Years of practice and understanding photography artistically, along with having a method to the process, gave me the skill and knowledge to capture that moment, regardless of explicit preparation. Without them, this image would not have come together so seamlessly.
The rest of the night was less aesthetic. We went to the lake with one sleeping bag and no pads, intending to walk out in the dark or bivy until morning. Naturally, neither of those ideas worked, and we were a bit of a mess walking out in the cold with little to no sleep. Nights like these are special, though, and it is so clear why I've spent a lifetime in the mountains. It reminds me of a John Muir quote I saw recently at Tenaya Lake: "In the midst of such beauty, one's body is all one tingling palate. Who wouldn't be a mountaineer! Up here all the world's prizes seem nothing."