2020 Northern Lights Calendar – May Photo

The May image was photographed this year on August 30, 11:58 PM looking at Little Presque Isle and Lake Superior north or Marquette.

I was on another family trip in the UP this year, so again photography was not my main focus. There was a decent aurora predicted this night so I figured after dark and the others went to bed I would head out. We were staying at one of the Little Presque Isle Recreation Area DNR cabins for a night so I figured I try a location nearby called “Top of the World” by locals and use Little Presque Isle as a backup, second location. Everyone else went to bed about 10:00 and that’s when I took off for a couple hours.

When I arrived at the small parking area, it was crowded with cars, some parked along the road. A car passed me asking, “is there a party here?” which I had no idea. College kids from Northern Michigan University like to camp and party up there so I figure that was why all the cars. I parked along the road and hiked up and was right, a bunch of college kids. Not too crazy though. So I walked past saying, “Don’t mind me, just doing some photography.” LOL! They did ask why and were intrigued, so I showed them the photos on the camera LCD screen and they seemed happy.

One for the images from “top of the world” Cool clouds, shooting start in top right corner.

I hung out for a bit, but didn’t like the location or composition I was making plus the noise and lights from the parties wasn’t the best. I decided to hike back to the car and head to the other spot. Oh yeah, I had never been up there in the dark and almost got lost. To be honest without one of the groups bonfires to guide me back, I might have wondered for a while. I have no idea how I got off the trail.

I arrived at Little Presque Isle about 11:15 PM or so finding a few cars in the parking lot but nothing crazy. I walked through the pines to the beach to see if I wanted to shoot there at all. I didn’t like the composition so I walked back to the trail and went out to the point.

First test shot at Little Presque Isle park. More clouds.

Once there I actually had a difficult time figuring out a composition I liked to include the island, the aurora and the stars. There is not much room on the sandy/rocky beach and I didn’t want to get wet. From there the island is more to the northeast and the lights were more in the northwest. There were several rocks and logs near me that I could use in the foreground. And as you can see the clouds were rolling in. Still not sure I like the composition, but I wanted to have another location I had not shot before. I will say to the west the clouds had a great texture to them. I’ll write more about that in the November photo blog post coming soon.

I shot some vertical compositions as well to include the milky way and also shot through the pine trees to include the forest. It wasn’t a spectacular display or the best composition, but its still watching the northern lights over Lake Superior in the UP! Not really a better way to spend the evening.

Milky Way over Little Presque Isle
A different shot with a few faint rays shooting up.
The area in the the daylight.

Exposure data: ISO 3200, 20 seconds at f/2.8, Nikon D750, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm. My focus point on this lens is over the right side of the infinity symbol ∞ < on the lens at 17mm. Its closer to the center of the symbol if I shoot at 35mm.

If you want to see the scientific data on that day go to this link – HERE

Kp numbers were around 3 on this night.

The Kp Index numbers are not the only info to look at on aurora forecast, however it’s a good place to start. You can find more info on Kp numbers here. KP Info Here.

Here is a link to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What are the northern lights?

People ask is this what lights look like with the naked eye? The short answer is no. It has to do with how human eyes see at night, basically in black and white and not very well. More info here.

You can order a calendar HERE

Have you seen the northern lights?

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing!

Bryan