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1) Motivation Assignment Winner
Photographer: Mark VanDyke
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L, Tiffen 2-stop GND filter, Really Right Stuff tripod and ballhead
This photograph was taken on June 13, 2012, on Grassy Ridge in the Roan Highlands of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. The composition of this image was certainly previsualized, the result of several years of previous hikes and scouting trips. However, the natural conditions that would occur were anything but predictable. It's not often that I find myself with good company on hikes; the life of a landscape photographer is up extremely early or out extremely late, often getting excited about conditions that others cringe about. On this particular morning, I was lucky enough to have my father and his young German shepherd with me. It wasn't until we arrived at the location and waited for the sun to crest the horizon that the skies began to clear and the fog began to push and hug the mountainsides. The scene that actually unfolded, despite being previsualized from a compositional standpoint, was unlike any that I could have previsualized in my mind's eye. The show nature put on between the fog, light and natural conditions was fantastic—and it was really neat to share it with my father.
In the spring of 2014, the OP Assignments ranged from self-explanatory topics like Spring Showers to more interpretive themes like Contrasting Landscapes. In choosing the winning images, we looked for photos that made us pause and think for a moment, photos that showed originality. Congratulations to Mark VanDyke, Jim Shoemaker, Angela Service and Rebecca Wilks for their winning photos. Go to outdoorphotographer.com to enter your own images. New Assignments are posted every week.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor
2) Spring Showers Assignment Winner
Photographer: Jim Shoemaker
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L, warming polarizer
This photo of Monument Valley was made in May 2011. I had been spending the day in the Navajo Tribal Park waiting for sunset when an afternoon thunderstorm rolled in. I love having clouds in my landscape images, and as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing better than a good thunderstorm to add drama and texture to an image. Clouds have always piqued my interest because they often dwarf the same canyons, mountains, buttes and mesas that dwarf me. They're transient, ever-changing and absurdly fickle, and although they seem lighter than air as they float above the landscape, their weight can be mind-boggling. I converted this image to black-and-white using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.
3) Contrasting Landscape Assignment Winner
Photographer: Angela Service
Equipment: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Canon EF 10-22mm ƒ/3.5-4.5, Tiffen ND filter, tripod
I captured Spirit Falls on the Little White Salmon River in Washington. After the first winter freeze in December 2013, I was disappointed that I didn't make it out to this location, so I was hoping for another drop in temperatures to get the opportunity to photograph the falls. In February 2014, after two days of temperatures dropping into the teens, I felt the conditions were right. The forecast called for snow, so my husband and I packed up our Jeep® 4x4 and headed into the Columbia River Gorge. The talus slope to get to these falls can be quite challenging, but doing it in these conditions proved especially difficult. It snowed the entire time, so I had to wipe my lens constantly, my fingers froze, and I couldn't feel my toes, but I loved every minute of it! Only minimal processing was needed. I lightened the shadows around the tree trunk, the branches on the right and a few areas of the snow.
4) Fresh Perspective Assignment Winner
Photographer: Rebecca Wilks
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 24-70mm ƒ/2.8L, handheld
I took this photo on Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on March 18, 2014, during a weeklong houseboat trip. This spot is fascinating to me, not only for the graphic quality of its shapes, but also for the hint it gives of the breathtaking grandeur of Glen Canyon and its tributaries before the dam was commissioned in 1963. I climbed a nearby sandstone ridge as the houseboat captain motored around the curves to provide perspective. I did basic postprocessing in Lightroom 5.