Flash Point: Shawn Malone on capturing northern Michigan’s night skies
Shawn Malone, owner of Lake Superior Photo, describes the process behind North Country Dreamland as a combination of “luck and persistence.”
Malone is a veteran photographer, who focuses on shooting images of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the Lake Superior Watershed.
This is her first time-lapse compilation. It’s put together with more than 10,000 photo frames and 33 northern Michigan night sky events last year.
These night skyscapes include multiple northern lights scenes, meteor showers, nebulae, planets, constellations, the Milky Way and comets. Many of them were taken over both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
“Looking back on the project, I feel extremely fortunate to have captured what I did,” said Malone. “To compile each scene was very time and labor intensive, in both getting to the scene and then editing it.”
Malone drove and hiked long distances to vantage points that include the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Copper Harbor and a number of beaches near her native Marquette, Mich. She took a plane to photograph Isle Royale.
Each scene required a minimum of three hours of shooting, and many hours beyond that to edit the frames into a refined video sequence, coordinated with music, Malone said.
“In the climax of the video, the very bright aurora scenes, those are all very special,” Malone said. “At our latitude of 46.5 degrees that kind of activity doesn’t occur frequently. I can count them on one hand in the past few years.”
Despite the hard work, Malone is pleased with the result.
“I look back on this compilation with good satisfaction at capturing some extraordinary night sky events,” she said. “The aurora sequences are particularly satisfying, because it was just plain amazing to capture them.”