4th Annual The Great Outdoors Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winner: Jason Heritage

Title: Danger Approaches - South Dakota

On July 23, 2012, after leaving Badlands, my brother and I were headed west to see Mount Rushmore and Wind Cave. Little did we know we were heading into a forest fire that was raging out of control. Wind Cave was shut down, so we diverted to our backup camping plan…KOA. Fortunately, for us, Hot Springs KOA was only a short ride away. After arriving, we cleaned up and had dinner before we heard the early signs that a storm was brewing just to our south. We checked our weather apps and saw that this was a particularly strong storm that was producing large hail. Despite the approaching danger, we foolhardily decided to get a better vantage point of the new peril.

What we witnessed was absolutely amazing! The setting sun’s rays were shooting over the mountain ridge to our west and striking just beneath the clouds, illuminating the sheets of rain as they fell. The orange glow of the rain was complemented with intense white lightning strikes that pulsated repeatedly. The storm’s electric intensity increased my chances of landing a shot of lightning, without a tripod, I might add! By slowing down my shutter speed to 1⁄40 sec. and holding my breath, I was able to acquire nine out of 13 shots with lightning. Immediately after we ran to the safety of our vehicle, we watched as the storm nearly ripped our tents out of the ground.

Nikon D7000, AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED VR

1st Prize Winner: Frank Comisar

Title: Blast Off

Snow geese blast off at sunrise. Gear: Canon 7D w/ EF24-105 f/4.0L

Honorable Mention: Max Vuong

Title: Mesquite Meltdown

My first time here (Death Valley, Ca) and I was lost all morning. Walking back to the car, I noticed the interesting lines when I got really low to the ground, not on purpose rather because I was completely spent. I was basically lying on the sand at this point and set up my camera no more than six inches off the ground. Snapped a few shots directly into the sun and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

Honorable Mention: Adam Hill

Title: Aurora Over The Taiga

This was photographed during an auroral snap. I was working between two cameras trying to gather timelapse footage and stills. I was lucky to get back to my stills camera in time.

Honorable Mention: Dave Smaldone

Title: Fall Swirls

People's Choice Winner: Joshua Cripps

Title: A Burst Of Inspiration

Wharariki Beach is surely one of the most magical beaches I’ve ever seen. One of the challenges in photography is capturing such a spectacular place with spectacular light. I was prepared to wait up to 5 days at Wharariki for the right light. So when an amazing sunset exploded on my second night there my serotonin levels skyrocketed and I couldn’t keep myself from laughing. This was a highlight among highlights of my 2012 New Zealand photography adventure.

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