Mists and clouds of both water and stars hang over Lake Pleasant in the Adirondack mountains of New York. On the bottom left, mists rising from the lake are illuminated by lights from the shore. On the bottom right, high-altitude clouds in the distance are illuminated by lights from Rome and Utica, 50 miles to the southwest. In the center, bright clouds of stars in the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy wrap from the galaxy's center (on the horizon) to overhead.
The range of distances is tremendous. Light from the mist takes about 1/4 microsecond to reach the camera. Light from the distant clouds takes about 1/4 millisecond. Light from the arms of the Milky Way galaxy takes tens of thousands of years to reach the Earth.
Dark clouds can be seen obscuring bright clouds in the atmosphere and in the Milky Way. Over the hills at the far end of the lake, local clouds appear dark against the more distant high-altitude clouds. Similarly, in the Milky Way, clouds of gas and dust in the spiral arms appear dark against the glowing stars.
Two 30-second exposures at ASA 6400 with a Canon EOS 5D-III and 24mm lens at f4.0 on 2012-08-19 at 12:35 a.m. EDT from the north end of Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY, looking southwest. ©2012
The top image with constellations marked. Portions are visible of Aquarius, Capricornus, Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Aquila, Scutum, Serpens Caput, Ophiuchus, Hercules, and Serpens Cauda in this wide-angle image.
The Milky Way over Speculator Mountain on Lake Pleasant in the Adirondack mountains of New York. This image consists of two 30 second exposures taken from a fixed tripod standing on a floating boat dock. In the lower left you can see my shadow cast on the lake by the boat shack's light. The lake was flat with a slight mist rising and haze coming in from the southwest (to the right). Once the motion from my movement on the dock damped out, the dock remained still enough for the time exposure! This image shows a wider field of view than the above images.
Two 30-second exposures at ASA 3200 with a Canon EOS 5D-III and 15mm lens at f4.0 on 2013-07-16 around 12:15 a.m. EDT from the north end of Lake Pleasant in Speculator, NY, looking south. ©2013
The above image with constellations marked. Portions are visible of Pegasus, Aquarius, Capricornus, Equuleus, Delphinius, Cygnus, Vulpecula, Saggita, Aquila, Scutum, Sagittarius, Corona Australis, Scorpius, Serpens Cauda, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Corona Borealis, Serpens Caput, Libra, and Virgo in this wide-angle image.