Assignments: January/February 2015

Winning Images From The Weekly Assignments At outdoorphotographer.com

1) Migrations Assignment Winner
Photographer: Denis Dessoliers
Equipment: Nikon D800E, AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm ƒ/2.8, Gitzo tripod

This picture was taken on February 6, 2014 at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico, on the old U.S. Highway 85. My wife and I drove almost 900 miles from Southern California, trying to capture some images of the bird migration here. Prior to taking this shot, the sky was overcast for a majority of the day. My wife and I spent quite some time waiting and hoping for the sky to clear up. My patience was definitely tested when the conditions seemed like they wouldn’t change. Disappointed in not being able to capture anything, I began to pack up all the equipment. My wife, while staying very optimistic, insisted we stay around for just a moment longer. I’m glad I listened because, moments later, her intuition was proven right. What seemed like a lost cause became an opportunity as the sky began to reshape itself. Gleaming through the clouds was a beautiful ray of hope that lit up the horizon like a blazing fire. At that moment, I was so fixated on the view that I had forgotten about some of the gear I had already packed. I quickly rushed to my car to grab my equipment and capture this shot. The glow only lasted for a few minutes before it began to grow darker and fade into the night.

The lighting of this sunset was a balance of the foreground and background. It was taken in two shots without the use of an ND filter and blended together. For postprocessing, I used Lightroom and Nik software for minor enhancing.

Congratulations to Denis Dessoliers, Bud Walley and Valerie Millett. Theirs were the winning images from the recent Migrations, Clouds and Fall Color Assignments on outdoorphotographer.com, sponsored by Kenko Tokina USA. There’s a new Assignment posted every week. To get your photos into the running, all you need to do is enter.

2) Clouds Assignment Winner
Photographer: Bud Walley
Equipment: Canon EOS 7D, Tokina 11-16mm ƒ/2.8, Adobe Lightroom 3

This image was taken on July 14, 2012 in the Mojave Desert’s Johnson Valley off-road area. As usual, here in the desert in July, there were thunderstorms brewing. A couple of friends and I decided to go out to see if we could capture some of the desert’s dramatic skies. I saw these clouds developing in my sideview mirrors. We stopped, set up and started shooting. I remember saying, ‘Wow, no one is going to believe that these are the real colors.’ This shot is a perfect example of when you’re out trying to capture the beauty of landscapes, don’t forget to look behind you.

3) Fall Color Assignment Winner
Photographer: Valerie Millett
Equipment: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, Canon EF 24-105mm ƒ/4L IS, polarizer, Induro tripod

Long before I ever became a photographer, I had seen a photo in a magazine of hundreds of photographers lined up in front of a spectacular scene, the article noting that the particular landscape was one of the most photographed in the U.S. I distinctly remember the image because it registered as odd to me—the crazy level of enthusiasm that seemed to overtake these photographers.

This particular autumn, I found myself sleeping in the back of my SUV in freezing-cold temps at Maroon Bells, Colorado, with an alarm malfunction that led to almost missing the whole thing. Once I came to my senses, I hurriedly got up, bundled up and stood on the shores of a scene I couldn’t see in the pitch of darkness, but I knew I wasn’t alone. In the complete darkness stood what seemed liked hundreds of other photographers, all milling around and waiting for the sunrise.

Those moments as the sun rose, I stood in disbelief at the amount of bodies, camera gear and electronic noise coming from such an incredibly spectacular landscape. Then it dawned on me that I was in the exact place I had seen all those years ago in that magazine. There I was, part of the many and struck by that same enthusiasm. It was an incredible bit of discovery so, of course, I had to take a photo of it.