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It was 2 a.m. one night in May at the Harbor Beach pier, in Michigan’s thumb.

“Seeing the Milky Way arcing over the pier was such an amazing and memorable experience,” said Chase Gagnon of Madison Heights, who was there to take photos of the night sky.

“I experimented with a few different angles and lenses, but I eventually decided that the fisheye lens was the right choice for this image. But something was still missing. So I decided to step in front of the lens and shine my flashlight up to the stars.”

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His 30-second exposure yielded a photo begging to be on the cover of a sci-fi novel. "Selfie with the Stars" is also one of this week’s finalists in The Detroit News’ Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest under the People and Places theme. Amateur photographers have only until noon Friday to enter their photos of people and places in our state, at  https://apps.detroitnews.com/submitphotos.

Also chosen as finalists this week:

  • “Fountain of Youth,” by Peter Brown of Benton Harbor. Brown stopped by the Whirlpool Compass Fountain in St. Joseph and decided to stick around until sunset. “I saw the kids playing and figured it would be an interesting shot with them running through the water,” he said.
  • “Perfect Synchrony,” by Mark Smith of Northville. The playfully titled photo shows 15 little ballerinas, including his granddaughter, each doing her own thing during a West Michigan Dance Company recital in Plainwell.  “The group was forming a pyramid of sorts,” he explained. “To be fair to the girls, I took this photo before they had completely found their spot and position.”
  •  “Whiting Forest Canopy Walk,” by Cathy Bragiel of Pinconning. Midland’s new tourist attraction takes visitors on a quarter-mile-long elevated route through the trees. When Bragiel got to the narrow rope bridge, “I used a wide-angle lens and got real close to take the shot,” she said.  The result is a photo of dramatic angles that makes you think twice about crossing. In fact, she said, “I still haven’t walked across the bridge yet.”

After the last four finalists are announced next Wednesday, June 26, two winners will be selected from the 16 finalists, one by the Detroit News photo staff, the other a People’s Choice winner selected by online public voting June 26-30.

 Both winners will receive $300 as their prize.

 The Celebrate Michigan Photo Contest then continues with two more themes: Woods and Wildlife (accepting entries June 21-July 19), and Four-Season Fun (July 19-Aug. 16).  

The contest is open to non-professional photographers age 18 and older. Read the official rules and follow along all summer at https://detroitnews.com/celebrate-michigan for weekly stories and a growing photo gallery of the finalists and winners selected to date.

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