Assignments: April 2015

1) Winter Shapes Assignment Winner
Photographer: Wendy Gedack
Equipment: Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS USM, tripod

When preparing for this journey, I diligently monitored the weather, trying to predict the ideal morning to experience Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. Originally, I had planned to visit the arch a day earlier, on January 1 of this year, but altered my itinerary last minute due to the changing forecast, which predicted snow and clouds for most of the morning. Given my short timeline in the area, I hoped for the best. Driving to this site well before sunrise, I could tell the weather was going to be unpredictable due to a low layer of fog on the horizon. It was a bitter cold morning, with temperatures hovering around 9º. Hiking in the dark with only my headlamp to guide my way created a sense of excitement and anticipation of the view ahead. As I approached the site, I secured my spot between two other photographers. The bank of clouds on the horizon threatened to cover the sun as it rose, but the potential was there; I just had to be patient. It wasn’t until the sun crested the low layer of clouds and fog that I knew I had chosen the right morning. The lighting continued to change as the heat from the sun caused the fog to flow into the valley, creating an amazing atmosphere. It was a morning I’ll never forget—truly unpredictable beauty. The magnificence and drama that unfolded that morning are what draw me to explore and photograph landscapes each and every day.

This month, we feature Assignments that look not just at the beauty of a location, but that rely on the skills of the photographers to tell a story through shape, form and defining moments for themselves and their subjects. Congratulations to Wendy Gedack, Nico DeBarmore, Erika Skogg and Vincent Bonafede for their winning submissions. To get your photos in the running, all you need to do is submit them to the weekly Assignment on

2) Winter Shadows Assignment Winner
Photographer: Nico DeBarmore
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8L IS, tripod, remote release

On a January 2015 trip to Grand Teton National Park, I awoke to find the snowstorm from the previous night had dissipated, revealing the beautiful Tetons surrounded by pines and cottonwoods freshly laden with snow. I drove to the Snake River Overlook, as I had previsualized a predawn alpenglow image of the Tetons in a pink light with the Snake River winding through woodlands covered in fresh snow. The alpenglow and sunrise light were only so-so that morning, and I left the Snake River Overlook feeling unsatisfied. That’s when I saw the sun, now higher in the sky, backlighting everything in the Antelope Flats. The normally plain and featureless foreground of a snowy field was striking and far from boring—it was broken and dappled by the long dramatic shadows cast by those same glowing cottonwoods. I chose a telephoto lens at 85mm for this landscape to provide a perspective that would compress the distant trees in with the closer ones and still capture the dramatic shadows in the foreground. Photographing this panorama was challenging, as the sun was barely filtered by the trees and would, at times, cast unavoidable flare onto the image. In postprocessing, I converted the image to black-and-white; I felt the blue sky and bluish snow in the foreground were nice, but I really wanted to emphasize the form of the shadows, the trees casting them and the glowing sun illuminating the frosted branches.

3) Bird In Context Assignment Winner
Photographer: Erika Skogg
Equipment: Canon EOS 7D, Canon EF 100-400mm ƒ/4-5.6L IS

I took this photo the summer of 2014 in Tanzania in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. I had been watching these cranes begin to jump and dance around each other, so I held the shutter to get multiple shots, hoping to catch them in a unique position. When I reviewed the sequence, I chose this photograph of them beak to beak, creating an almost mirrored image of one another.

4) Tell Me A Story Assignment Winner
Photographer: Vincent Bonafede
Equipment: Canon EOS Rebel T2i, Canon EF 28-135mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 IS USM, B+W circular polarizer, Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripod

On February 22, 2012, I captured my first Horsetail Fall when I was 12 years old. My dad had planned a trip to Yosemite National Park during the week because of the weather. I tried to persuade my mom to let me miss part of the school day, but it was a no-go. I went to school like usual that day and was pretty bummed. Just after lunch, I got called down to the office and was surprised to see my dad. He said he was taking me out of school early to go to Yosemite; my mom had changed her mind. I was so excited! I knew we’d get back late, so I did my homework on the way to the park. When we arrived, there were many photographers all looking for the best location. We found a spot and set up our cameras. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. The waterfall seemed to have enough water and the sky was clear, all things that were needed for the event to happen. At that moment, I had found a passion for photography. This is a single image edited in Lightroom and CS6. I used Nik Viveza to edit the shadows and highlights.