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Photographer: Ryan Watkins
Location: Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikkor AF-S VR 70-300mm ƒ/4.5-5.6, Velbon tripod with pan and tilt head, Adorama cable release
Although I'm from Michigan, my favorite place to shoot is the beautiful Canadian Rockies. It was overcast the entire day, and it seemed unlikely that I'd get any pleasing golden-hour landscape images. I was near Field, British Columbia, and I just had finished photographing the Takakkaw Falls when I started back down the serene mountain pass. Suddenly, the beautiful golden-hour light broke through the clouds, illuminating this peak and giving it the crisp red hue. I had to shoot in the middle of the road to prevent any trees from obscuring the picture. The stark contrast between the red jagged mountain and smooth blue sky makes this image one of my personal favorites.
The images we spotlight here come from a few different Assignments. The common theme that unites them is how the photographers chose longer focal lengths to isolate the subjects to a degree. In Ryan Watkins' shot in Yoho National Park, he used the telephoto perspective to create an imposing and dramatic monolithic image. Carl Eberhart demonstrated solid technique by capturing the Milky Way, which is rapidly becoming washed out by light pollution, while maintaining sharp, pinpoint stars. John Vinson dodged the crowds at the Maroon Bells and used a slight telephoto instead of the usual wide-angle lens to put his stamp on this popular vista. Rick Furmanek didn't struggle to include the full trees from root to crown. Instead, he let silvery-white bark contrast with the rich yellows in the leaves to convey the feeling of fall amongst the aspens. Jerry Cotten's wild, once-in-a-lifetime portrait of a lightning strike gives a sense of the power and fury within common storm clouds.
Go online and submit your own photos to the Assignments galleries.
—Christopher Robinson, Editor
Photographer: Carl Eberhart
Location: Southeastern Tennessee, 25 miles northeast of Chattanooga
Equipment: Canon EOS 50D, Sigma 17-70mm, Heliopan circular polarizer, SLIK carbon-fiber tripod, Giottos MH-1300 ballhead
I enjoy shooting the Milky Way when it's visible. This was taken in July, 2010, following a rare cold front. The sky still had lots of light pollution to the right of the image, which I tried to negate with a polarizer on the lens and Adobe Camera Raw in the computer. You can barely still see part of the "dark rift" of the galaxy. I ran out in front of the camera and fired a flash several times handheld to illuminate the trees.
Photographer: Rick Furmanek
Location: White Mountains, Arizona
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM, Manfrotto 055CXPRO4 carbon-fiber tripod, Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip ballhead, Canon cable release
My wife and I spent three days deep in the White Mountains exploring every nook and cranny of each unmarked dirt road, searching for the right combinations of fall color. Early in the morning on the second day, after shooting some macro shots of aspen leaves, we happened upon this little grove of color and contrast that provided exactly what I was in search of.
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Photographer: Jerry Cotten
Location: South of Lamesa, Texas
Equipment: Canon Rebel XSi, Tamron 18-270mm, Manfrotto tripod, cable release
The night I took this photo, it was very windy. I had to hang my heavy camera bag on the tripod to help stabilize it. Lightning was striking out of the cloud cover in the top of the photo. I took several photos of the lightning that weren't all that impressive, and then the wind blew the lower cloud across the sky into my frame. I was praying the lightning would strike at the right time, and it did! I've taken hundreds of lightning photos before, but this one is my best. I think what made the photo impressive, besides the strike, was the way the edges of the clouds were outlined because of the backlighting.
Photographer: John Vinson
Location: Maroon Bells from Maroon Lake, White River National Forest, Colorado
Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikkor AF-S 18-70mm ƒ/3.5-4.5G ED DX, MC-30 remote, Tiffen circular polarizer
Maroon Bells is a Colorado icon, and if you plan on going there on a Sunday morning in the autumn, you'd better be ready for lots of company, not solitude. Since I was there well before sunrise, I was ready to head out, but couldn't resist taking a few more images along the lake as I headed back to the car. Since there were many people along the lake, I chose for a nice tight angle of the Bells rather than the typical wide-angle shot.