Orion over Abraham Lake by Tom Evans
Orion over Abraham Lake by Tom Evans
Abraham Lake by Tom Evans

There are a lot of dedicated astrophotographers out there. Even so, Tom Evans went to jaw-dropping lengths to capture this Photo of the Week.

There are a lot of dedicated astrophotographers out there. Even so, Tom Evans went to jaw-dropping lengths to capture his shot of Orion over Abraham Lake, lying on the frozen lake at midnight in 50 km/h winds at -32C.

As Evans pointed out, the photo — which is this week’s Photo of the Week — captures a clear image of the Orion constellation, complete with its vast surrounding areas of red nebulosity.

“Betelgeuse clearly shows its dimmer character, barely competing with the now-brighter stars in Orion,” he wrote in an email.

Orion over Abraham Lake by Tom Evans

As one of our judges said, the image is “stunning,” adding that the juxtaposition of the eerie ice bubbles, the crack leading in and the constellation is “outstanding.”

“I took this fixed-tripod composite on Abraham Lake in Alberta, on Jan 19, 2020, in the midst of a week long cold snap that drove temperatures to sub -30C,” he said. “On this night, a chinook was building and the winds were picking up, making the sky’s turbulent and misty.  Despite this, I was able to capture seven relatively clear frames out of the 28 sky exposures I made.”

“It was a spectacular night on this iconic lake, seeking the best ice bubbles for a foreground, and discovering that amazingly clear deep ice crack that created a vanishing point right out to the horizon,” he added. “But it was, indeed, a little disarming to listen to the lake pop and groan as the chinook winds rolled in and put their pressure on the ice surface.  The lake does have its dangers, and I was very happy to have Banff mountain guide (and photographer) Nick Fitzhardinge watching over us with his experience on the lake.”

Evans said he used an unmodified Canon 6D with a Sigma ART 20mm lens on a fixed tripod. He took seven sub-frames, selected from 28 exposures at f/1.4, ISO 3200, 18 seconds each.

For the foreground, he used seven focus stacked groups of three exposures each. The seven focal points ranged from 0.3 m to infinity in order to capture the close up ice bubbles yet maintain a clear horizon, and each exposure was 40 seconds at ISO 1600, f/1.4.

Evans said he processed the sky using a combination of Pixinsight and Photoshop, and the composite and final adjustments were made in Photoshop.

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