South Dakota's Landscape In Vivid Time-Lapse (VIDEO)

03/05/2012 11:44 am ET

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- South Dakota spends millions each year to promote the state to tourists, but it may be the work of a Kennebec farmer showcasing the state's natural beauty through time-lapse photography that helps draw new visitors to the area.

Randy Halverson has created several time-lapse videos showcasing stunning images of South Dakota's night sky. Using still photographs pieced together, Halverson creates videos showcasing the stars and moon set against breathtaking views of the sky that encompass every color of the rainbow.

It's a reminder, he said, of what South Dakota's landscape can offer.

"I've seen people from South Dakota originally who say they miss seeing the sky like that because they live in the city," said Halverson, 44, who sells the videos and still photography as part of his business, DakotaLapse.

After first viewing time-lapse video about two years ago, Halverson said he knew immediately that South Dakota – with its rural, flat landscape – would make for a good backdrop. He likes to focus on grass, trees or an object in the foreground to contrast with the night sky.

What most people don't realize, he said, is that the videos are made up of still photographs with long exposures that bring out phenonmena not visible to the naked eye.

"It brings out stuff you can't normally see. The time lapse and the long exposure combined, it's just something that is unique," he said.

Halverson begins the process by setting up a rotating dolly with his camera set to take photos for three to four hours. He then pieces the still photos together using computer software and adds music.

One of his videos, "Temporal Distortion," has gained national attention.

The 5-minute video features the Milky Way, Aurora and other phenonmena filmed in Lyman County in South Dakota, Arches National Park in Utah and Canyon of the Ancients in Colorado. Music by composer Bear McCreary adds to the visual wonder of the video.

McCreary, a Los Angeles-based composer who has created scores for TV shows like "Battlestar Galactica" and "The Walking Dead," said he was taken aback by the images when Halverson emailed him and asked if he would be interested in creating the music.

He quickly got to work and composed the piece in a few days.

McCreary, who grew up outside of Seattle before moving to Los Angeles 15 years ago, said it had been years since he last saw a night sky like the ones in the video.

"You don't see those kinds of stars anymore," he said.