Leelanau News and Events

Picture Taken In Leelanau Named Among Best Northern Lights Photos In The World For 2023

By Craig Manning | Dec. 11, 2023

A photo captured in Leelanau County has been honored as one of the top 25 best northern lights photographs taken anywhere in the world this year.

Justin Miller, a Grand Rapids-based photographer, was just named to the “2023 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year” list by Capture the Atlas, a popular travel and photography blog. Now in its sixth year, the site’s annual Northern Lights Photographer of the Year feature is considered one of the highest honors for aurora photography.

Miller recently spoke to Leelanau Ticker sister publication Northern Express for a story about Michigan aurora chasers. While he doesn’t hail from northern Michigan, Miller told the Express that he considers the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to be one of the best places in the country to see and photograph the northern lights.

Fittingly, the photo that earned Miller an accolade from Capture the Atlas was taken inside the National Lakeshore. The photo (pictured) depicts the aurora over DH Day Barn, an iconic Sleeping Bear Dunes landmark. Miller took the picture during a March aurora chase, which he described to Capture the Atlas thusly:

“Heading to this area in my home state in Michigan, I noticed a new G1 Aurora watch for the night. To secure the best lookout for the sky, I climbed a nearby sand dune just up the road from the barn. The aurora exhibited a nice glow right after dark, but had no movement. After completing the bottom two rows, it began to slowly dance with tall pillars moving across the sky! I took a short break to capture this non-tracked version, seizing the tall pillars with a shorter exposure. I completed this version, continued to finish the tracked version, and ended the night with a timelapse by the barn until I took the blue hour foreground shots the following morning. It was a spectacular night!”

Miller’s shot is the only Top 25 finalist this year that was taken in Michigan. Other honorees captured their photos in spots like Alaska, Death Valley, Nova Scotia, Norway, Iceland, Finland, and New Zealand.

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