Popular Photography's 15th Annual Readers' Photo Contest
First Place Winner: Robin Harrison
The great egret is nature's haiku. There's a poetry in its plumage, which is white as a full moon and, in breeding season, sticks out here and there like a pillow that's been through one too many pillow fights. Robin Harrison framed this nesting pair in Florida with her Canon 5D. Hundreds of miles away from her native Maryland, she was in the state attending a photo festival last May and took a four-day workshop at the St. Augustine Alligator Zoological Farm.
About 65 American Alligators lurk in the wetlands at the farm, and every year herons, ibis, spoonbills -- and, of course, egrets -- migrate here to roost. The alligators provide the birds with a built-in security system, and the birds provide the alligators with an occasional snack. It's about as close as nature gets to the lion lying down with the lamb. From the boardwalk that takes visitors into the heart of the rookery, Robin spotted these egrets. "I got lucky with this image," she says. "It's unusual to get their heads together like this."
Robin discovered photography 15 years ago when she bought her first telephoto lens to take pictures of her kids playing sports. Since then, she's shot everything from her rabbits and deer in her backyard, to wild ponies that roam nearby Assateague Island, to canyons at an Arizona. "I learn just as much from other photographers as I do from the instructors," she says. And, although she claims to "not have an artistic bone my body," she's worked hard a developing her composition skills, which this image beautifully displays.