North 47° - A Lake Superior Storm
By: By Jonathan Chapman, Lake County News Chronicle
“If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually find a few minutes to free your mind, let your wheels spin, and drift away to a place where something brilliant might wash up upon the shore…”
Last November my five-year-old daughter, Frankie, and I set off for our once-a-year weekend together, bound for northern Minnesota and a cabin on the shore of Lake Superior. Travel “up North” is something to which most Minnesotans look forward and welcome as often as we can accommodate. It’s a destination that signifies something that is hard to put in words. What it lacks is what draws us in, more so than what it offers. Regardless of one’s motive, the possibilities are endless amid the wilderness and waters of our some 10,000 plus lakes.
While we departed with cloudy skies and windshield wipers humming, rain or shine, we were once again excited to be leaving town together. Along our route the weather turned increasingly cold, with clouds growing thicker and winds gaining strength. In weather like this, I knew long before we arrived that my idea of hiking through the woods along the water’s edge was not what Frankie would consider fun.
Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes, signifies in many ways, the gateway to the north woods. The vastness and the unpredictable nature of the water keep visitors engaged in trying to solve its mysteries.
Upon arrival at the cabin, approximately five hours north of Minneapolis, the temperature was just barely above freezing. The winds were roaring across the water, with surf hitting the shore in a way that many at the resort, including myself, had not often experienced, but were excited to witness.
I awoke several times during our first night, sleeping some 50 feet from the surging waves that were pounding the shore and windows of our seemingly snug, yet audibly uninsulated cabin. Throughout the night the storm continued to grow, ratcheting up its intensity by the hour.
In the morning after stoking the fire and a slow breakfast, Frankie and I set out to explore. Just steps from our door Frankie was quick to advise she’d had enough. I brought her in and contemplated heading back out, camera in hand for whatever I might be able to capture. I was now pleased that I had packed at least a few essential pieces of equipment. I figured I’d last about 10 minutes, but was certain I would come away with visuals unlike any I’d captured of the lake in the past.
The North 47° motion edit, named by the geographic coordinates of the storm, was captured that morning in no more than an hour of shooting. Time in the elements was punctuated by many breaks to the cabin with Frankie tearing off paper towels to help dry camera, lenses, and my face. I had never worked in such extreme conditions. With feet firmly rooted and backside to the wind, I was able to grab no more than 2-3 second video clips, but I was not sure what, if anything, would become of the footage.
Upon retiring to the cabin I found the view from our upstairs bedroom window almost as interesting as the water’s edge. The blowing trees, surging waves and water droplets running down the window offered a quieter element than what I had been struggling to capture outside.
I am appreciative of each and every hour I am able to steal away to the North Shore, especially one-on-one adventures with my kids. Lake Superior never ceases to offer something humbling, regardless of the season.
It was exciting to see the footage come to life during the editing process. The video clips were shot in slow motion at 60 frames per second and Nathaniel Schmidt put the footage together against an audio track that quiets and compliments the wind, waves, and turbulent nature of the footage. Upon completion we taped the talents of Coelement for graphic animation.
Jonathan Chapman is a photographer living in Minneapolis. See more of his work at http://jonathanchapman.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org