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Grand Prize Don Martin

Morning Conversation

This photo was taken at the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands in Viera, Fla. I had been photographing this family of great blue herons for several months, from the time they first started building their nest to the baby chicks appearing. This was one of the first days the chicks started to become very active and were able to stand on their own.

I could see that as they were struggling to find their footing, they kept chirping at their mother, finally rearing straight up on their legs and putting their heads in the air, demanding her attention. I imagined at the time that since it was late morning, the chicks and mother were discussing their lunch options.

I’ve learned in my short experience with bird photography that the saying, “I would rather be lucky than good,” certainly holds true.

Equipment: Nikon D810, Tamron (150.0-600.0mm ƒ/5.0-6.3), MeFoto C1350 tripod and ball head. Image processed in Adobe Lightroom, 600mm, 1/1600sec at ƒ/6.3, ISO 280


Second Prize Delton Young

Paradise Trees

Mt. Rainier National Park is a photographer’s paradise in winter—if the roads aren’t closed by heavy snowfall, and if one is comfortable on snowshoes. From the Paradise Visitor’s Center, there are several trails leading up and across the mountain (check with the park rangers about avalanche conditions). Mt. Rainier holds the world record for one-year snowfall total, but occasionally, the mountain is enveloped in fog, creating the impression of trees floating in the mists. This image was created less than a mile up the trail toward Panorama Point.

Equipment: Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm ƒ/4L. 1/200th sec. at ƒ/13, Gitzo tripod


Third Prize Lana Gramlich

Sunrise At The Flatwoods

The Abita Creek Flatwoods Preserve is very close to my home in the Greater New Orleans area. Three ecosystems meet here—lash pine/pond cypress woodlands, bayhead swamp and critically endangered longleaf pine savanna—providing a variety of photographic opportunities. Enjoying a short walk there last autumn, I found a massive wildflower bloom in progress. Not just wildflowers, but also peak color for the shiny, pink tips of the tall sugarcane plume grass. We don’t really get autumn color in Southeastern Louisiana, but this lovely combination was just as good. I knew it would be even better at sunrise, and my husband, a fellow nature lover and my photographic pack mule, agreed to go back with me the next day.

We returned to the site shortly after sunrise on Oct. 11, 2015. The light was great, and an unexpected touch of morning mist added atmosphere to the background. I worked furiously, taking as many pictures as I could cram into that first hour of the day. I strove for back lighting, for depth that would include the misty forest, and for shots that included both the yellow flowers and the pink grasses. I also stole moments to both marvel in awe with my husband at the natural beauty, and to appreciate it on what was the morning of our eighth wedding anniversary.

Equipment: Taken with my Canon EOS Rebel T2i and Tamron 16-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens, using a Sunpak 2001UT tripod and a generic, wired remote shutter button. ISO 100, 1/50 sec., ƒ/11, 46mm.



People's Choice Winner Chad Briesemeister

Pillar And Ice

I took this photo at the Apostle Islands Ice Caves, just outside of Cornucopia, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior. It’s a mile hike along the lake to the caves, and they continue for miles after that. Walking along the caves, I noticed this large rock pillar and thought I’d incorporate that into one of my shots, so I started looking for a composition and noticed a very small cave with some icicles formed around the outside. I thought if I could fit myself and equipment in the cave that the icicles would make a good frame for the shot. I managed to shimmy my way feet first into the cave without knocking the icicles off and get my camera set up while my wife looked on, wondering what the heck I was doing at this point. I start to compose my shot with the pillar in the center of the frame and the icicles around it. It was cloudy at this time, but I noticed a break in the clouds and some nice light hitting the rock, so I quickly got my settings where I wanted and took the shot. This was one of many shots that day, but “Pillar and Ice” was one of my favorites.

Taken with a Sony A99 camera and a Tamron 24-70mm lens. I set my lens at 24mm and focused on the rock and my aperture at F8 where this lens tends to be the sharpest.

My shutter speed was 1/20th sec @ ISO100. Taken on a Manfrotto 190 carbon-fiber tripod.

This was a single exposure shot edited in lightroom.

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