|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
1) Flocks, Herds & Schools Assignment Winner
Photographer: David Hammond
Location: Union County State Fish & Wildlife Area, Illinois
Equipment: Nikon F100, Nikkor 600mm ƒ/4, Fujichrome Velvia 100, homemade beanbag window rest
This photograph was made about 10 years ago at the Union County State Fish & Wildlife Area, located in the extreme southern tip of Illinois in Union County. This is a small vernal pond area of the refuge that's normally dry, but at this time of year is flooded for a resting area for waterfowl. I was photographing the geese at this site the afternoon before, but the light was very poor, with heavy cloud cover, so the area looked very drab and without much character. I noticed, however, that the warm water being pumped in was mixing with the cold air and creating a large dense area of fog, and knew that the overnight weather forecast was for clearing skies and temperatures in the single digits. I returned to the area before daylight the next morning, hoping that the geese would still be resting on the pond and that the fog and mist would be frozen on the trees. As it turned out, I was fortunate on all hopes. The early-morning light was diffused by a very light cloud cover, the trees were covered with thick hoarfrost, and the geese were still resting on the pond. I managed to get about one roll of film shot before the geese started to leave that spot and go feed in the surrounding cornfields.
We've run more than 160 Assignments at outdoorphotographer.com. Of those, the winning images of three of the most popular Assignments are featured in this issue. Congratulations to Patricia Davidson, Andreas Hinzer and David Hammond.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor
2) Winter Scenics Assignment Winner
Photographer: Andreas Hinzer
Location: Swedish Lapland
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM
During the middle of November, 2013, I was in the mountains between Norway and Sweden "hunting" moose with my camera. We already had a lot of snow, and it was around -20º Celsius. I made some great shots in the national park. On the way home, I passed this little river with the sunset in the background. There was no question to make a stop, enjoy the light, and enjoy the total silence only interrupted by the "click" of the camera. In total, I captured 10 moose images and this picture—it was a good day. The only postprocessing I did was in Lightroom 5.
3) Close To Home Assignment Winner
Photographer: Patricia Davidson
Location: Bandon, Oregon
Equipment: Canon EOS 7D, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II USM, B+W circular polarizer filter, Induro CT213 carbon-fiber tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-40 ballhead and L plate
On Thanksgiving weekend, a couple of photographer friends were visiting, so we met up to shoot together. I was anxious to try out my new Canon 16-35mm lens on the beach. I had rented it a few times this past summer and really liked it, so I decided to buy one. Since there was a minus tide, I was hoping to capture some nice reflecting pools near Face Rock. I've shot this position many times in different lighting and tide conditions, so I knew the potential it had. In this shot, I loved how the sunstar was bouncing off the water in the reflection.
I often go to Bandon for photography because I live only about 25 miles away in Coos Bay. Bandon always has so much potential with compositions because of the amazing sea stacks, no matter what kind of weather or tide conditions. I never get tired of going out there when I need to stay close to home.
I use Lightroom 5 to organize and edit my photos. I do basic edits in Lightroom and, if needed, will open in Photoshop. I bracketed this shot and took multiple exposures, but I didn't need to use them. I was able to use the Shadows slider in Lightroom to bring out the details in the foreground rocks in the sand. I did take it into Photoshop to remove some distracting footprints in the sand. I also used Imagenomic Noiseware software to remove a little noise due to opening up the shadows.