Outdoor Photography Month Contest Winners

Landscape Theme Winner: Gerry Groeber

Title: Last Night

This image was taken in the Superstition Wilderness in Arizona. A winter storm had moved in right before sunset. I had hiked several times to this location looking for evening clouds with no luck, but on this trip, the late afternoon storm was perfect.

Nikon D7100, Tamron 10-24mm lens, Manfrotto tripod

Wildlife Theme Winner: Douglas Croft

Title: Motion

I would love to say that this shot was a result of skill and planning, but in reality, it was purely a gift from God. I was on an early morning game drive in Kruger National Park with my outfitter, Wild4 Photo Safaris, when we saw a coalition of four cheetahs coming toward us across the plain. As they got closer, I realized that I had too much lens, so I pulled my shorter set up out of the seat pouch. This cheetah had fallen behind the others, and when he realized he had been left, he raced to catch up, so I panned along and hit the shutter a couple of times. Things sounded wrong to me, so I checked my settings and found that in pulling the camera out of the seat pouch, I had inadvertently closed my aperture down, slowing my shutter to 1/30. Cursing that I had missed my opportunity, I changed my settings and continued on with the day. It wasn’t till I downloaded everything that evening that I realized the gift I had been given: a nearly perfect slow-shutter pan of a running cheetah!

Nikon D5000, Nikkor 70-200mm ƒ/2.8, ISO 400, ƒ/13, 1/30 sec.

Travel Theme Winner: Wasim Muklashy

Title: To The Shoulder Of Buddha

I was in the hill city of Kandy, widely considered the “Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka.” It was my final night of a three-week trip to the island nation. I spent the first two weeks training teachers in the war-torn northern province of the nation on how to produce educational videos for an education reform program, which turned out to be one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. I then used the final week to travel and soak in some of the sights and sounds of the rest of the country to decompress a bit from the emotionally heavy first part of the trip.

On my final full day there, I had already visited the Temple of the Tooth, a religiously significant temple in the Buddhist faith, and the Pinawalla Elephant Orphanage just outside of town, yet I was determined to hit up one more landmark that was on my list before we began to lose sun. I had the local driver that was assigned to me take me to the Bahiravokanda Vihara, a towering 85-foot concrete Buddha statue that stands on a hill over the city. A staircase that runs alongside the statue’s shoulders leads you to a viewing platform that offers one of the best vantage points to take in the landscape and topography of Kandy. After capturing a few panoramas of the city and the hillsides that surround it, I began making my way back down the stairs where, unexpectedly, a steady trickle of monks began to make their way past me toward the temple just as the glow of twilight was backlighting the face of Buddha.

I was mesmerized. I immediately knew that this, not the sunset, was the moment I was meant to capture.

In the absence of a tripod, I cranked up my ISO to 2500 to get a decent shutter speed given the conditions, steadied the camera on one of the lower stairs and waited. It wasn’t long before this lone monk showed up right in the center of my frame on his way to the door of the temple.

Snap. A perfect ending to a perfect trip.

Samsung NX1,18mm, ƒ/8, 1/20 sec., ISO 2500

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