Shawn Malone has made a specialty out of her astonishing photographs of the Northern Lights, starry Upper Peninsula night skies, meteor showers and other celestial events. The owner of Lake Superior Photo in Marquette, and Upper Peninsula Second Wave's managing photographer, Malone spends a lot of nights choosing the perfect shot of the cosmos.
Recently, she produced a time-lapse video of some of her efforts, titled "North Country Dreamland," that's had more than 100,000 views online as of this week. It's easy to see why-- the mesmerizing movement of the galaxy in the night-sky images is nearly as breathtaking as the shifting auroras in glowing colors. A series of 33 scenes, North Country Dreamland is made up of more than 10,000 photographs Malone took over the course of 2012.
"It took a year to shoot in many cold nights and took a lot of coffee, a bit of tenacity and persistence to get this into a form of coherent electrified cosmic goodness," says Malone of her work.
And it's been a great ambassador for the Upper Peninsula online so far, with more than 100,000 views recorded as of this week. It has appeared on websites including Absolute Michigan, Space.com, Spaceweather.com, Universe Today and PetaPixel, and also hit major media outlets like Slate.com, Huffington Post, NPR, Michigan Public Radio, Mlive.com, the Detroit Free Press and Yahoo News.
The scenes include the Northern Lights, meteor showers, nebulae, planets including Venus and Jupiter setting in the spring of 2012, constellations, the Milky Way, comets, and skies over both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Malone tells of several wildlife encounters she had while shooting the images for the video, like the blue heron visible in one scene, wolves howling under a full moon, two moose clashing on Isle Royale, and a memorable beaver.
"A particularly persistent beaver on an inland lake in the Hiawatha National Forest (was) determined to be in just about every frame with a methodically spaced tail slap on an otherwise beautifully flat, calm star-reflected lake," says Malone. "So even though the star reflection sequence is blown by this beaver with a 'tude, the scene is included anyway as a humorous memory."
Locations in the video include Isle Royale National Park, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Headlands International Dark Sky Park, North Country Trail, Hiawatha National Forest, Marquette, Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor.
"All scenes are within 200 miles or so of my home in Marquette, Michigan, and I feel very blessed to live where I do and to share the beauty that I see in my own backyard with you. I hope it inspires others to take time to find the beauty that is everywhere around us and also to raise awareness about the importance of preserving our night, wondrous, starlit skies," says Malone.
The music, a track called "Lifted," comes from David Helpling and Jon Jenkins' album The Crossing. More of their music is available here
Malone can be contacted via Facebook
for the use of this video or other projects. She also has created selected fine art prints of some of the scenes in the video, visible here