The American Landscape 2013 Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winner: Michael Sherman


Location: West of Mather Point, South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Equipment: Nikon D3100, AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED II, Bogen tripod

It was the beginning of November 2011, and one of the first snows had hit the area hard for this time of year. I had been watching the forecasts for several weeks and noticed the days in which the canyon was enveloped with overcast skies. I had hoped for a break in the cloud ceiling to allow for the filtered light display, which I had anticipated. And with any fresh snowfall, that meant early morning would prove to be the most beneficial due to the way the sunrise light would hit the snow and the canyon.

Finally, after watching and watching, the storm had subsided and the forecasts called for dissipating cloud activity that night. I knew an early start would mean hardly any sleep, but I just had to go—had to see the new display if there was going to be one.

That morning after stepping into the parking area with some winter clothing on and fighting cold toes, I rushed to the rim to set up. There it was! I couldn’t believe the filtered light display. It was traveling fast, and I was trying to keep up with it.While my toes insisted on aborting the whole thing, I just kept firing. As it moved, so did I. After choosing one location, I had to quickly revamp and move to another location and another. As they say, “I’ll never forget it.” And to be sure, I never will.

To me, this is probably the quintessential American scene. It’s so large and so well known, and it’s not only special to us as Americans, but the entire world. No one can own it. And, thankfully, Congress had the ambition to set it aside for all of us to enjoy—to appreciate and care for future generations.

When you stand at the rim—either rim, for that matter—if your breath isn’t taken away, I suppose you’re not alive at that point. Countless people from countries all over the globe will approach me to have their picture taken with their camera while I’m on location. Most languages I don’t recognize. But the one language I do happen to recognize is one of human understanding and compassion for what we have. They want to share with us—that feeling of being able to recognize this part of America that we call home—a part of our landscape. That even comes from a couple huddled in their hotel comforter—while on their honeymoon. They’re the only other people up that early in the morning seeing the incredible sight at sunrise—right behind and above me nearer the safer trail while I’m shooting. As the changing light scatters upon the canyon’s interior landscape, they become breathless. You can see it happening every time. They’re quiet, as am I. And even I get goosebumps to this day as the light travels over the endless layers inside the canyon. Yet, they’re there taking it all in because they, too, want to see this part of America that so many of us have come to call “Grand.”

Second Place Winner: Jeff Stasney

Title: Glorious Sunset

I took this photograph along the Oregon Coast on my final day of a workshop tour with Marc Adamus in May of 2012. I had been praying all day that our final destination be my most successful image of the trip. It was a glorious moment, truly, as the sun began to set, and the clouds rolled in-hovering, fairly still, in great formation. I set my camera down and began to compose my shot, where I knew I would get some good foreground action. Marc was so excited, he grabbed his camera, and asked if he could set up next to me. Well I knew then it was a special moment, as he later told me it was in the top 5 sunsets he’s ever seen on the Oregon Coast. The image was made with a Nikon D800E, Nikon 16-35mm, RRS TVC-34L Tripod, with an Arca Siss D4 head. I used one capture for the foreground action, and one for the sky. Later I hand blended the two images to complete the shot.

Third Place Winner: DuLaurence "Duke" Miller

Title: Storm At Sunset With Double Rainbow, Crater Lake

Photo taken from deck at Rim Village Restaurant at Crater Lake National Park. The vantage point was unique, 1,000 feet above the surface of the lake, enabling the view down into the storm as it built in the center of the lake. The setting sun furnished the double rainbow.

Past Contests

Explore past winners, finalists and prizes from our previous contests.

View Contests