|1) Reflections Assignment Winner
Photographer: David Saylor
Equipment: Canon EOS Rebel T3i, Canon EF-S 55-250mm ƒ/4-5.6 IS
The Dan Click Ponds in the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera, Florida, are a pair of large settling ponds for the nearby treatment plant and attract a wide variety of waterfowl throughout the year. I’m fortunate to live less than a mile from there, and it was a pretty rare event for me to see so many pelicans and spoonbills together in one place. I had been returning to this spot every day for about a week hoping for the right conditions. The pelicans and spoonbills were using the center of the settling ponds to preen and rest, and the water level was extremely low. When I saw this scene, I knew I had it. The water was dead-calm, the birds distributed just right and the clouds providing a perfect mirror image. The horizon just melted away.
Congratulations to David Saylor, Wendy Gedack and Quynh Ton for their winning photographs from the Reflections, Better Lucky Than Good and Starry Nights Assignments. We’ve run some 200 Assignments on the OP website, and the submissions to these were some of the very best. You can keep up to date on the latest Assignments by subscribing to the OP eNewsletter. Go to outdoorphotographer.com to sign up and submit your photos for a possibility of being published in the magazine as our next winner.
2) Better Lucky Than Good Assignment Winner
Photographer: Wendy Gedack
Equipment: Canon EOS 6D, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L, tripod
As I traveled to Colorado’s San Juan Mountains area in July 2014, I had planned to photograph the wildflowers in the region. The monsoon season had arrived in the Rocky Mountains, and I was also hoping to capture dramatic clouds and weather. As the sun began to set, I photographed a field of flowers just off Last Dollar Road when storm clouds began to form all around. It appeared the drama was taking place out toward Owl Creek Pass, so I decided to go to the top of the Dallas Divide to see how the scene would unfold. As I reached the overlook, I could see the dark clouds surrounding the area and climbed to the top of a ridge for a better vantage point. I set up my tripod and, in the rapidly changing conditions, the dark, dramatic clouds parted just enough for the sun to break through and light up the rugged rock formations below.
3) Starry Nights Assignment Winner
Photographer: Quynh Ton
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, Canon EF 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L, Gitzo tripod, Acratech ballhead
I had come to Washington’s Picture Lake in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest many times in the past five years prior to shooting this photo and always envisioned the best way to depict this picturesque location. In May 2013, I took a night photography class, where I learned about shooting the Milky Way. Another member of that group and I made a plan to shoot the Milky Way at this location. It had to be on a day when the Milky Way was in the right position relative to the mountain, and we decided on a weekday, so we wouldn’t have to deal with a lot of other photographers. In August 2013, four of us started shooting around 10 p.m., when the sky was completely dark. It was a time-consuming process: three rows by 15 columns for a total of 45 pictures at 25 sec./picture. I only had time to shoot two series before the Milky Way moved too far right and off-center of the mountain. I stitched the pictures together in Photoshop using the Photomerge function. After merging, the picture bent upward. One group member found out we could use the Warp function to manually pull its horizontal line straight to produce the final version of the picture.