Joe Bonner said this image came about on Labour Day weekend when there was an unexpected auroral outburst. He said his inspiration was the Milky Way itself.
“I live in the suburbs of Ottawa so I can’t see the Milky Way from home even under the clearest of skies,” he said. “I was visiting a friend’s cottage … and the skies there were dark and clear enough to make the Milky Way stand out big and bright. I dragged 2 friends away from the campfire to help me take this image. I had them use flashlights for 3 of the 10 seconds of exposure to ‘paint’ the trees in the foreground. I thought that the green of the trees would look more interesting than just tree silhouettes.”
The judges agreed, with one noting that “it’s really encouraging how clever people are.”
Judges also said they thought the Milky Way looked really impressive, adding the dark nebula is shown nicely and the way the trees are illuminated is quite effective.
“It was a great weekend evening,” Bonner said. “I had clear skies, aurora over the lake, the Milky Way above, and good friends at my side. Perfect.”
Bonner said the winning shot was taken as a single image with a Canon 6D. He said the ISO was 6400, and the shutter speed was 10 seconds. He used a Samyang 24mm F1.4 lens working at F2. The camera on a tripod with no tracking. He developed the image in Lightroom, then Photoshop CC.
He added he liked astrophotography for two main reasons. First, it allows him to see things that would not otherwise be visible to they eye even at the eyepiece of a large telescope. Second, it allows him to share his observing experiences with friends and family.
“For some reason, they don’t seem to enjoy standing outside in the dark in sub-zero temperatures like I do,” he said.