Your Best Shot: The Winners

See all the winner's from our monthly magazine contest

July 2012: 1st Place

July 2012: 1st Place

NAOMI RICHMOND, 19, STUDENT, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
People are my favorite thing to shoot—I love capturing the essence of a person, or a character. The "dust" shown here is a yellow powdered paint. I wanted it to be an extension of the model, rather than a distraction. This shoot was for a series where I focused on altered states and consciousnesses. The idea for this photo, "The Madman," was to capture something abstract: madness and/in youth, his conscious and unconscious self.
TECH INFO: Nikon D7000 with 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor lens; 1/3200 sec at f/1.8, ISO 100. Contrast adjusted in Lightroom 3.
July 2012: 2nd Place

July 2012: 2nd Place

GABRIELE FERRAZZI, 29, SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR, ROME, ITALY
I had seen the NgoroNgoro crater once before, and was inspired by the incredible art of its wild nature. This September morning, as I jumped into the 4x4, I was sick. But not even a bout of Dengue fever was going to make me miss this opportunity. I had a harder time balancing highlights and shadows.
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 7D with Sigma 10–20mm f/4–5.6 EX DC lens; 1/60 sec at f/6.3, ISO 200. Converted to TIFF with Adobe Camera Raw; minor edits in Photoshop CS5.
Gabriele Ferrazzi
July 2012: 3rd Place

July 2012: 3rd Place

MICHAEL BANDY, 30, DISPATCHER, PICO RIVERA, CA
Late at night, it is fairly easy to keep people out of the frame—the tough part is the exposure. But I always shoot RAW' and here it allowed me to recover the shadows without blowing out the highlights. I love the contrast of curves and straight lines. I really have the architect, Frank Gehry, to thank—the Walt Disney Concert Hall never fails to inspire.
TECH INFO: Nikon D300S with Sigma 10–20mm f/4–5.6 EX DC lens on Giottos tripod and ballhead; 30 sec at f/18, ISO 200. Exposure and b&w conversion in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3; blur, sharpening and noise reduction in Photoshop CS5; contrast in Nik Color Efex Pro.
Michael Bandy
June 2012: 1st Place

June 2012: 1st Place

CHRYSTINA GEAGAN, 41, PHOTOGRAPHER, SANTA FE, NM, AND MARINA DEL REY, CA
"This African bush elephant was passing through Ndarakwai Ranch in Tanzania. I wanted to get close enough to frame her with the rugged terrain in focus and the dramatic sky as a backdrop. Seeing wild elephants roam free for the first time was so moving, my eyes welled up—so I stopped shooting for a bit and just let myself feel it."
TECH INFO: Nikon D3X with 14–24mm f/2.8G AF-S Nikkor FX lens; 1/640 sec at f/4.5, ISO 100. Cropped in Lightroom 3; converted to black-and-white in Nik Silver Efex Pro
cg
June 2012: 2nd Place

June 2012: 2nd Place

BRANDON DEWEY, 27, U.S. NAVY RESCUE SWIMMER, NORFOLK, VA, AND VALLEJO, CA
"In Italy on deployment, I spent Christmas in Rome. On Christmas morning, I woke up early and caught the sun rising over the Forum. Unable to get the wide angle I wanted with my kit lens, I rotated my camera to vertical and made a panorama, bracketing each exposure and using the self-timer to reduce shake. That night I used Photomatix to make two HDR images, which I stitched together in Photoshop."
TECH INFO: Nikon D50 with 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 AF Nikkor lens; 1/4 sec at f/16, ISO 200. HDR image made in Photomatix Pro 4; panorama stitched in Photoshop CS4; minor adjustments and noise reduction in Lightroom 3.
Brandon Dewey
June 2012: 3rd Place

June 2012: 3rd Place

ZACHARY SPIRA-BAUER, 28, CINEMATOGRAPHER/PHOTOGRAPHER, WOODBURY, NY
"This shot is about submerging ordinary people underwater to stimulate the unconscious emotions of desire and fear. Water reduces color, contrast, and sharpness, so I wanted to limit the amount of water between myself and the subject—I used a sharp prime lens and got close. I lit her as softly and naturally as possible, diffusing direct sunlight and lining the floor with Mylar sheets to fill in any shadows."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24mm f/1.4L II Canon lens in ASL Splash Bag with flat port lens. Exposure, 1/640 sec at f/5.6, ISO 500. Color, contrast, and luminance corrected in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom 3.
May 2012: 1st Place

May 2012: 1st Place

LISA MOORE, 23, NANNY, SEATTLE, WA
"We drove for hours to Deception Pass, hoping to capture a beautiful sunset. When the weather began to go south, we switched gears. This was the first time any of us had tried 'spinning wool'—the biggest challenge was not catching on fire. At one point, a ball of steel wool came flying at me and set the backpack next to me on fire. I stayed focused on the shot while my friend stomped out the fire."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 40D and 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 Canon EF-S lens on Giottos MT9251 tripod with Really Right Stuff ballhead; 20 sec at f/11, ISO 400. RAW conversion in Adobe Lightroom 3; exposure and contrast adjusted in Photoshop CS4.
May 2012: 2nd Place

May 2012: 2nd Place

TERESA OUSLEY, 55, PHOTOGRAPHER, DAVENPORT, IA
"This couple had planned to be married on top of this boat. It didn't happen, due to the rain, [but] I got a silhouette of their kiss in the umbrella. It was challenging to keep our footing, and our gear dry, on the wet deck. I positioned the flash behind the bride and groom, angled up towards their heads. Their umbrella had white and black stripes, so I placed the white in front of them to bounce light back onto their faces." (wizofozphotography.com)
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24–70mm 2.8L Canon EF lens and 580EX II Speedlite; 1/60 at f/5, ISO 2000. B&w conversion and minor adjustments in Photoshop CS5.
May 2012: 3rd Place

May 2012: 3rd Place

ANDRES CHAVES, 21, STUDENT, WOODSIDE, NY
"I was experimenting with tulle, trying to make a hat out of it. The model's green eyes drew all my attention, but it was hard to focus on them instead of the tulle. This shot caught my eye, even unedited. I cropped, cleared the skin, and added some glow to the photo. I wanted it to pop."
TECH INFO: Nikon D80 with 18–70mm DX AF-S Nikkor at 44mm; 1/80 sec at f/4.5, ISO 100. Two Impact Lumelite 600W Tungsten lights and a 22-inch 5-in-1 Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc (white). Vignetting applied in Adobe Camera Raw; retouching and other adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
Andres Chaves
April 2012: 1st Place

April 2012: 1st Place

JOHN KNIGHT, 67, RETIRED COMPUTER SYSTEMS ANALYST, RICHMOND HILL, ONTARIO
"I approached the polar bear pool at the Toronto Zoo to find Nikita playing with a plastic box. Though her toy was much too large to fit through a hole in the ice, she took turns trying hopelessly to force it through from above and below. Her sister, Aurora, offered her a kiss in consolation, but Nikita took offense."
TECH INFO: Sony Alpha 850 with 70–400mm f/4–5.6G Sony lens at 160mm; 1/160 sec at f/9, ISO 250. Minor adjustments in Apple Aperture 3.
April 2012: 2nd Place

April 2012: 2nd Place

CHRIS HITCHCOCK, 52, PHOTOGRAPHER, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
"For the Jailbreak Triathalon on the Western Cape of South Africa, getting to the location required a 3-mile run with a 26-pound camera bag. Temperatures hit 95 degrees with no wind. When I reached my spot, I kneeled in the middle of the road, athletes coming at me from both directions—on a blind corner. You only get one chance at the shot, and it lasts a split second. I wirelessly fired the Speedlite from a Gorillapod, pointing up at (South African triathlete) Claire Horner's face."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 5D with 15mm f/2.8 Sigma EX DG fisheye and Canon Speedlite 430 EXII; 1/2000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 200. High-speed flash sync with PocketWizard FlexTT5. Minor adjustments in Adobe Lightroom 3.
Chris Hitchcock
April 2012: 3rd Place

April 2012: 3rd Place

NICK BENSON, 24, ART STUDENT, WEST HARTFORD, CT
"Fireworks emit various levels of light and have extreme differences in their peak position in the sky, and the size of their combustion is unpredictable. On my second attempt at photographing fireworks, I averaged the time it took for each to reach its peak height before exploding, then manually focused on the center of most of the explosions. I held the shutter open, zooming out slightly while turning the focus ring in two gradual steps."
TECH INFO: Tripod-mounted Nikon D7000 with 55–300mm f/4–5.6 Zoom-Nikkor lens and Nikon MC-DC2 remote shutter; 2 sec at f/10, ISO 100
Nick Benson
March 2012: 1st Place

March 2012: 1st Place

DANIEL BRYANT, 32, BUSINESS ANALYST, PHOENIX, AZ
"The view from my condo is my favorite subject, so when I saw this dust storm coming, I quickly recognized that it was unusually intense. I've got hundreds of photos of the same skyline—now I have a photo of it that people will take a second look at. It was used without my permission on BuzzFeed.com's 45 Most Powerful Images of 2011; to add insult to injury, they credited a different photographer with the same name."
TECH INFO: Nikon D90 with 10–22mm f/4–5.6 Sigma lens mounted on Gorillapod tripod; 0.6 sec at f/4, ISO 200. Contrast and color adjusted in Google Picasa 3.
March 2012: 2nd Place

March 2012: 2nd Place

STEVE WALLACE, 58, PHYSICIAN, YUMA, AZ **
"Visiting the tribes in Ethiopia's Omo Valley, I stopped at the Omo Child Home (omochild.org) in Jinka. I noticed this beautiful girl with big eyes looking out from a dark hallway. As I started taking pictures of her, she followed me with her eyes as I took photos from several angles. We did not have a common language, so I gave her no instruction."
**TECH INFO:
Nikon D3s with 24–70mm f/2.8 Nikkor at 62mm; 1/125 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400. Contrast and brightness adjusted in Adobe Camera Raw; eyes whitened in Photoshop CS5.
March 2012: 3rd Place

March 2012: 3rd Place

CHAD MARTIN, 33, RETAIL MANAGER, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
"Watching the daily feeding of Australian pelicans at The Entrance on New South Wales' central coast, I wanted to capture the whole gathering. But I could not fit them all in one shot with enough detail—so I combined two separate shots. I tried to make the pelicans the focus, yet still bring out the feather pattern in the clouds."
**TECH INFO: **Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3. Two exposures: 1/320 (right side) and 1/250 (left) sec, both at f/8, ISO 100, 5.5mm (33mm equivalent). Photos merged in Adobe Photoshop CS5; tone and color adjusted with Topaz Adjust plugin.
Chad Martin
February 2012: 1st Place

February 2012: 1st Place

JORDAN FRASER, 23, LABORER, BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
"While on a road trip around the Scottish Highlands, the kyloe was definitely on my list of shots to get. A local breed of cattle, they look powerful and intimidating with their huge horns, but they also have cool shaggy hair. I took this photo about 10 feet away from its nose; I'm grateful that they are a docile bunch! It watched me cautiously approach, and didn't seem to mind. I pushed my luck, edging closer and closer; I got this shot before it grunted and began to get up."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS Rebel XSi with 10–22mm f/3.5–4.5 Canon EF lens. Exposures: 1/200 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 (kyloe); 1/250 sec at f/16 ISO 100 (sky). Composited using OnOne Mask Pro; color and contrast corrected in Adobe Photoshop 3.
February 2012: 2nd Place

February 2012: 2nd Place

AMRI ARFIANTO, 40, AIRLINE EMPLOYEE, DUBAI
"Inspired by Rafael Concepcion's HDR book, I planned to shoot the futuristic architecture of the airport during its quiet time (10 a.m.). The composition was the toughest part; I shot from many different angles. The curves and lines make the shape of the building so beautiful."
TECH INFO: Sony Alpha 850 with 24mm f/2.8 Minolta lens on tripod. Bracketed shots: 1/2, 1/8, 1/30 sec at f/22, ISO 100. HDR processed in Photomatix Pro 4; edited in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS5.
February 2012: 3rd Place

February 2012: 3rd Place

LAURA TODAY, 18, STUDENT, CHAMPAIGN, IL
"Books tend to represent knowledge, as well as trees; I decided to combine the two in one photo. For the 'trunk,' I used binder clips to keep the pages segregated from the rest of the tree. I folded the rest of the pages and used a couple paperclips near the spine to give the appearance of branches. The book is a medical dictionary; I tried several other books but settled on this one because it was the thickest. I placed it on a black backdrop and captured the image handheld."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS Rebel XS with 18–270mm f/3.5–6.3 Tamron lens at 18mm; exposure, 1/400 sec at f/3.5, ISO 400. Contrast and color adjusted in Adobe Lightroom 3.
December 2012: 1st Place

December 2012: 1st Place

DANIEL KMIECIK, 52, APPLICATION ENGINEER, CANTON, MI
"This pocket watch was made around 1929; it was my grandfather's. I never knew him, but when I was really young I loved his watch and fell in love with watches from then on. For this shot, it was laid flat on a table and lit from above and slightly behind with a 36x48-inch softbox mounted on a monolight. I used a piece of white foam board in front to even out the light. The camera was mounted on a tripod directly over the watch."
TECH INFO: Nikon D200 with 60mm f/2.8D Micro-Nikkor; 1/125 sec at f/32, ISO 100. Photoflex softbox on Interfit 150 monolight. Minor adjustments in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CS4.
Daniel Kmiecik
December 2012: 2nd Place

December 2012: 2nd Place

MORRIS BENNETT ALTMAN, 56, IT DIRECTOR, QUEENS, NY
"We knew that there had been skimmers spotted on Long Beach, New York, for weeks. On a cloudy morning, I was sitting on Nickerson Beach, 15 feet away from about 200 black skimmers, when they blasted off. We had been hoping for a pretty sunrise—we didn't get that, but it allowed me to use a nice, slow shutter speed. This, the fourth frame of a seven-shot burst, was my favorite." (morrisaltman.zenfolio.com)
TECH INFO: Nikon D200 with 80–400mm f/4.5–5.6D Nikkor VR lens and Nikon Speedlight SB-800 with Better Beamer FX-4 flash extender; 1/80 sec at f/5.6, ISO 800. Edits in Adobe Photoshop CS5 with Noiseware Professional plug-in
December 2012: 3rd Place

December 2012: 3rd Place

CHRISTIAN MÜLLER-PLANITZ, 43, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, SALT LAKE CITY, UT
"The photo was taken very early in the morning in Lumbini, Nepal—the birthplace of Buddha. We didn't quite know what to expect when our rickshaw driver dropped us off at the famous Bodhi Tree. There were monks praying under it, but I was even more fascinated by all the prayer flags strung through the garden in the misty, early morning light." (muepla.zenfolio.com)
TECH INFO: Nikon D700 with 70–300mm f/4.5–5.6 Nikkor lens; 1/400 sec at f/10, ISO 800. Minor edits in Adobe Lightroom.
November 2011: 1st Place

November 2011: 1st Place

Josh Cripps, 30, photographer, Santa Cruz, CA
"On a trip to Sand Harbor State Park, at Lake Tahoe, I'd come early to scout areas to shoot at sunset. Later I returned to this one, but was disappointed when the sunset seemed like a dud. Packing up, I stole a glance over my shoulder; by magic, the clouds to the north lit up with these gorgeous pink and purple hues. I had to race to find the right composition." (www.joshuacripps.com)
Tech Info: Tripod-mounted Nikon D300s with 12–24mm f/4 Tokina lens and Lee soft graduated ND filters. Edits in Adobe Photoshop CS2.
Joshua Cripps
November 2011: 2nd Place

November 2011: 2nd Place

Daniel Soderstrom, 40, artist, Minneapolis, MN
"My family visited the Como Zoo in St. Paul to see the new polar bear exhibit. This shot was totally spontaneous. I was moved by the reactions of the children seeing such a beautiful animal up close—I wanted to capture their sense of awe and amazement. I was glad to see later that the fast shutter speed froze the air bubbles as the polar bear exhaled, for just a fraction of a moment." (photographerdaniel.com)
Tech Info: Canon EOS 40D with 17–50mm f/2.8 Tamron lens; 1/1600 sec at f/2.8, ISO 400.
November 2011: 3rd Place

November 2011: 3rd Place

Charles Lindsey, 43, chef, Concord, CA
"I'd been teaching my son about shooting smoke and decided to try it with bulb filament art. We tried a few with the glass completely removed, then broke just one side of a bulb and shot it against a black backdrop. My son and I both photographed it in our own style; his took first place at a high-school art expo." (lindseycrew.net)
Tech Info: Nikon D700 with 16–35mm f/4 lens and Speedlight SB-900; 1/125 sec at f/9, ISO 200. Edited in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
October 2011: 1st Place

October 2011: 1st Place

BHAGIRAJ SIVAGNANASUNDARAM, 26, DOCTOR, SRI LANKA
"A friend from the U.S. was visiting Sri Lanka, so we decided to spend a day at Dehiwala Zoo. At the lion exhibit, the animals were resting after a meal. Suddenly one got up and walked to the other. I didn't know what would happen, but I knew I wanted to capture it. I raised my camera and zoomed in as the second lion roared in response. Soon they were at each other like this. It was first time I'd seen real lion aggression." (www.theasianpictures.com)
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 50D and 55–250mm f/4–5.6 EF Canon lens; 1/160 sec at f/5.6, ISO 320. Edits made in Adobe Lightroom 3.
Sivagnanasundaram Bhagiraj
October 2011: 2nd Place

October 2011: 2nd Place

NICK SARNOFF, 23, BANKING ANALYST, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
"On a recent trip to Paris, my girlfriend and I visited the Louvre and, as she waited in line for us, I set out to photograph the Pyramide. I wanted the interior of the museum to be visible while capturing repeating patterns in the framework, as well as the exterior of the palace, in a way that would juxtapose the modern with the old. Three exposures, composited in HDR, made that possible."
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24–105mm f/4 Canon lens; f/8 at ISO 100. Composited using Nik HDR Efex Pro.
Nick Sarnoff
October 2011: 3rd Place

October 2011: 3rd Place

AMANDA AUCOIN, 21, STUDENT, ROCHESTER, MN
"A friend who is also a photographer wanted to test out a new tabletop studio and macro lens, so we picked up some flowers and set up at our school library. It was my first time using a macro lens—it was exciting to test myself to be creative with angles while working in a confined space. After seeing the result, I'm hoping to buy my own macro." (www.amandaaucoin.com)
TECH INFO: Nikon D90 with 105mm f/2.8 VR NIkkor lens; 1/3 sec at f/9, ISO 100. Adjusted in Adobe Lightroom 3.
September 2011 1st Place

September 2011 1st Place

BILL ALKIRE, 61, BUSINESS CONSULTANT, OLYMPIA, WA
"I've photographed down in Baja, Mexico, many times, and the scenery and wildlife never disappoints. I took this photo out on a marlin-fishing boat out of Cabo San Lucas on the Gulf of California. With bait in the boat as well as in the water, we were at no loss for birds circling overhead, and the photo ops were better than the fishing. Returning to port, our deck hand dumped unused bait in the water and threw some in the air for the pelicans, who were waiting to catch the fish on the fly. The boat was moving from side to side as I composed and let Matrix metering work its magic."
TECH INFO: Nikon D7000 with 18–105mm f/3.5–5.6G Nikkor lens; 1/400 sec at f/10, ISO 320. Edits made in Apple Aperture 3.
September 2011 2nd Place

September 2011 2nd Place

SUDIP ROYCHOUDHURY, 25, PHOTOGRAPHER, KOLKATA, INDIA
"The Pushkar Fair, in Rajasthan, India, is one of the world's biggest camel fairs. Camels are bought and sold in large numbers, and I took this photograph at dusk as the traders brought their animals in. It had taken me a while to decipher what route they might arrive on; the camels and traders appeared just as light was fading, approaching quickly and filling my viewfinder as I composed and shot in burst mode."
TECH INFO: Nikon D200 with 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 Nikkor lens; 1/400 sec at f/8, ISO 400. Edited in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
SUDIP ROYCHOUDHURY
September 2011 3rd Place

September 2011 3rd Place

NICKY BAY, 33, GAME STUDIO MANAGER, SINGAPORE
"I captured this image in tall grass at the entrance to a park in Singapore. Ants infected by a mind-controlling, parasitic fungus called Cordyceps unilateralis climb to the tips of the grass blades and cling on until the end of their lives; in early morning dew, they make a great photo subject. I wanted the subject, dew, and the refracted backdrop in the dew all to be in focus, so, using a Wimberley Plamp to hold the base of the leaf still, I took multiple exposures. Six of them composited later in focus-stacking software made a glittery wrap of morning jewels." (sgmacro.blogspot.com)
TECH INFO: Tripod-mounted Nikon D80 with 180mm f/3.5 Tamron lens and two Nikon SB-600 Speedlights; 1/40 sec at f/16, ISO 400. Composited in Zerene Stacker
August 2011 1st Place

August 2011 1st Place

JAVIER ACOSTA, 38, POLICE OFFICER, SAN JOSE, CA
"Two years ago, I saw an image of fog rolling over the Golden Gate Bridge and became determined to capture it in that state. I've monitored the weather and made the drive up there more than 20 times since. But there were always obstacles—fog too thick or thin, too many boats—so I've used the time to scout. Until last January, when perfect fog came in. One morning I returned to a location off Conzelman Road. I wanted a long exposure to smooth the fog, and knew the hills would prevent empty space. Just as the sun was about to appear, I released the shutter, hoping for the best. Up-close, you can see the sun star and Transamerica Pyramid peeking through the fog." (www.javieracostaphotography.com)
TECH INFO: Tripod-mounted Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 24–105mm f/4L Canon EF lens, 10-stop neutral-density and 2-stop graduated ND filters; 120 sec at f/11, ISO 50. Adjusted in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
JaveFoto
August 2011 2nd Place

August 2011 2nd Place

JEFFREY LING, 28, 3D GRAPHIC ARTIST, ATLANTA, GA
"I took this during my first wedding shoot, tagging along with a friend to assist. This was taken right before the bride was about to leave the dressing area and walk down the 'aisle' of the winery clubhouse where the wedding was taking place. It might be hard to believe, but this photo was totally unposed; I was photographing the bridesmaids when I saw the bride turning to her mirror. I focused on her just in time to capture the small, self-assuring smile that flickered across her mouth in the last moments before taking her vows." (flickr.com/photos/lucidblinks)
TECH INFO: Nikon D300 with 24–70mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens; 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 640. RAW processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.4.
JEFFREY-LING.COM
August 2011 3rd Place

August 2011 3rd Place

CHERYL HILL, 32, LIBRARIAN, PORTLAND, OR
"This photo was taken along the waterfront in Astoria, OR, Thanksgiving weekend, 2008. I generally do nature photography during our green, lush summers, but something stood out to me about these branches and the pilings wreathed in fog. As I composed, the ship passed through, completing the shot. This one inspired me to make similar silhouettes my project while waiting for the summer."(www.peachylife.net)
TECH INFO: Nikon D40 with 18–105mm f/3.5–5.6G DX Nikkor lens; 1/50 sec at f/4, ISO 200. Converted to b&w in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
July 2011, 1st Place

July 2011, 1st Place

TIM BARTO, 34, SOFTWARE ENGINEER, STERLING, VA
"In July 2008, my wife and I took a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska and then stayed on for a few days to visit Denali National Park. It was rainy and overcast, but we wanted to have an aerial view of its landscape, so on the last day we took a flight on a small passenger plane. I was shooting through the passenger window and had to be mindful of the overhead wing and its supports, and also of reflections off the glass. I captured this when the pilot was banking the plane in the right way, after metering off the clouds. The image reminds me of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings." (www.timbarto.com)
TECH INFO: Canon D60 with 17–50mm f/2.8 Tamron lens; 1/250 sec at f/8, ISO 100. Adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
July 2011, 2nd Place

July 2011, 2nd Place

PAUL MARCELLINI, 26, NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER, MIAMI, FL
"I shoot native Florida wildlife for a conservation project called Meet Your Neighbours, and as a branch of that I also shoot invasive exotics, like this gecko, which is a threat to native wildlife. Using one flash below white plexiglass and another through a softbox in a small field studio, I noticed how interesting its eye was, especially when it reacted to the light. So I switched to my macro lens and used an extension tube to zoom in on it." (www.paulmarcellini.com)
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 180mm f/3.5 Tamron macro lens; 1/200 sec at f/9, ISO 200. Edited for contrast in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Paul Marcellini
July 2011, 3rd Place

July 2011, 3rd Place

DOROTHY LEE, 42, ANTIQUES DEALER, POCONO LAKE, PA
"I always look for beautiful light when photographing flowers and keep a wide assortment of these on my back porch. One rainy day, I noticed the sun breaking through the clouds and rushed to get my camera, Lensbaby and Macro Kit. I wanted a soft image with bokeh, and after moving around the flowers, I finally found the right compromise." (www.nuclearjackalope.com).
TECH INFO: Olympus E-1 with Lensbaby 2.0 and Macro Kit; exposure unknown, at ISO 200. Contrast added in Adobe Photoshop 6.
June 2011, 1st Place

June 2011, 1st Place

BARONESS DANUTÉ, 50, PHOTOGRAPHER, PARIS, FRANCE
"This past January I traveled through the Okavango Delta, in Botswana with five other photographers. Photographing in the bush is always both unpredictable and exciting: You can't anticipate what might happen, but wildlife never waits for you, so you'll only have seconds to capture it. At one point on our second day we heard a rumbling like thunder, indicating there were elephants nearby. One appeared and then charged us, and we scrambled in a different direction—I had my camera on continuous and was clicking like crazy. If I hadn't been, I might not have been the one to capture this unique moment of birds put into flight as another elephant stepped out of the trees." (www.photographybydanute.com)
TECH INFO: Nikon D3 with 70–300mm f/4–5.6 VR AF-S Nikkor lens; 1/400 sec at f/8, ISO 640. Cropped slightly in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
June 2011, 2nd Place

June 2011, 2nd Place

TRAVIS ABERLE, 37, INTENSIVE CARE NURSE, LENEXA, KS
"On a family trip to Washington D.C., I was impressed by the Metro tunnel architecture. I particularly liked the symmetrical lines of this station, so on one trip through I stayed on the platform with my camera, waiting for a train to complete the image. Pulling it off was all about timing—I didn't want passengers stepping on or off the platform cluttering up the foreground. But you have only seconds of clear platform before the train exits the station." (flickr.com/photos/bucky98)
TECH INFO: Canon EOS 30D with 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 Canon EF-S lens; 1/6 sec at f/3.5, ISO 100. Converted to b&w in Adobe Photoshop CS4.
June 2011, 3rd Place

June 2011, 3rd Place

LARRY ANDREASEN, 56, SERVICE TECHNICIAN, TILLAMOOK, OR
"I took this photo during the Perseid meteor shower back in 2007, at Painted Hills National Monument, during the peak of the star event. Painted Hills is my favorite location for astrophotography: Because of its distance from light pollution, you're able to capture more visible stars. I also photograph it in daytime to capture the many eras in its geological formations. I like in this image that both star and earth features are displaying history of time." (flickr.com/photos/21613633@N07)
TECH INFO: Tripod-mounted Nikon D3 with 14–24mm f/2.8G AF-S Nikkor lens; 1/40 sec at f/2.8, ISO 4000. Edited in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
May 2011: 1st Place

May 2011: 1st Place

SATHEESAN VASUDEVAN, 49, PUBLIC SECTOR BANK WORKER, KEALA, INDIA
"The farmers who live near my village in Kerala conduct a cattle-race festival every year to celebrate the end of harvest season. These cattle are specifically raised and trained only for racing, and pairs are each raced around a paddy field and timed, with people cheering them on. I was photographing it on a cloudy day, with light changing frequently, so I kept the camera on aperture- priority at f/5.6 to avoid underexposure. When this pair was racing for the finish, I managed to get this shot." ** TECH INfO:** Nikon D90 with 70–300mm f/4–5.6 Nikkor lens; 1/500 sec at f/5.6, ISO 125. Edited in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
May 2011: 2nd Place

May 2011: 2nd Place

DAVID RICHTER, 23, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS STUDENT, MILDENAU, GERMANY
"I love being in the mountains, so arriving at Yosemite was an exciting experience in itself. I also knew I wanted to photograph off the beaten path, so my friend and I hiked to Upper Cathedral Lake. Clouds were building over the Sierra as we pushed to make it before sunset, crossing 60-foot crevasses to find a good angle. Up steep granite cliffs, I was rewarded with this image of Cathedral Peak in Upper Cathedral Lake." (www.davidrichterphotography.com) TECH INFO: Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel XSi with 11–16mm f/2.8 Tokina lens and Singh-ray 2-stop split-ND filter; 1 sec at f/20, ISO 100. Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
May 2011: 3rd Place

May 2011: 3rd Place

AZIZ AL-ASOUSI, 32, POLIC OFFICER, KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT**
"On a photo trip to United Arab Emirates, I visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It's the largest mosque in UAE and one of the largest in the world, named after UAE's founder and former president. There are many angles to capture it from; as I toured it I searched for one that gave a sense of its enormity. When I did, I was lucky to to have someone pass by to emphasize its magnitude." TECH INFO: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV with 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens; 1/800 sec at f/13, ISO 100. Converted to b&w; in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.
April 2011: 1st Place

April 2011: 1st Place

** SUBHAJIT DUTTA, 25, PHOTOGRAPHER, KOLKATA, WEST BENGAL, INDIA**
"This photo was taken in Mallick Ghat, West Bengal, during Chhath Puja. This is an ancient Hindu festival celebrated each year in either October or November; it's to thank and pray to Surya, the Hindu Sun God. I was photographing the crowd from a rooftop, watching them move about as they prayed. At last this one woman stood still, capturing the right sense of divinity." TECH SPECS: Tripod-mounted Nikon D80 with 18–135mm f/3.5–5.6 Nikkor lens; 4 sec at f/22, ISO 160. Curves adjusted in Adobe Photoshop CS2.
April 2011: 2nd Place

April 2011: 2nd Place

** TONI SMAILAGIC, 21, PHOTOGRAPHER, JACKSONVILLE, FL ** "I took a three-month runaway trip to Paris, working on photo shoots while exploring the city. One rainy day I set out to take black-and-white silhouettes. The clouds cleared just as I stepped through a passageway in Montmartre to find this view, of a rare winter sunset." (www.tandmphotos.com) TECH SPECS: Canon EOS Rebel XSi with 16–35mm f/2.8L II Canon lens; 1/4000 sec at f/4.5, ISO 1600. Converted to b&w; in iPhoto.
April 2011: 3rd Place

April 2011: 3rd Place

JOHN WARD, 40, PRINTING SPECIALIST/PHOTOGRAPHER, TEMECULA, CA
"I spent a lot of time one summer driving up the coastline near Santa Cruz. One day at Lighthouse Point, I discovered sea lions lounging on the rocks and hopped over the fence to photograph them. I was capturing their scuffling as they came out of the water and searched for places on the rocks to lie down. When I noticed this mother rubbing noses with her pup, I opened up my aperture to isolate them in the frame." (www.jdubphoto.com) TECH SPECS: Nikon D50 with 70–200mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens and 1.7X teleconverter; 1/500 sec at f/4.8, ISO 400. Minor adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
March 2011: 1st Place

March 2011: 1st Place

JOSHUA CRIPPS, 29, NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER, SATNTA CRUZ, CA "I spent a summer working in the Aleutian Islands with an auklet conservation project. We lived in the shadow of this volcano, Gareloi, and one day toward the end of the project we decided to hike to the top. It was a slog—a vertical climb through knee-high grass, then shifting snow. When we reached a slope of rock and snow that we couldn't pass without climbing gear, we stopped instead to savor the view. The wind was still, the sun blocked by a layer of clouds, and I was able to capture the sight of steam billowing up from the crater, with the North Pacific in the background." (www.joshuacripps.com) Tech Specs: Handheld Nikon D300 with 18–200mm f/3.5–5.6 Nikkor VR lens; 1/1000 sec at f/10, ISO 200. Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS2.Joshua Cripps
March 2011: 2nd Place

March 2011: 2nd Place

DANIEL WHITTEN, 18, STUDENT, TULSA, OK
"My grandparents were visiting, and I wanted to show them how my new remote flash worked. I decided to photograph this sea biscuit: These have an intricate pattern that's difficult to see in normal lights. After propping the shell between two stacks of books, I placed my flash underneath it, and, using my cable release, exposed and captured it. TECH SPECS: Tripod-mounted Canon EOS Rebel XT with 60mm f/2.8 Canon EF-S Macro lens and Vivitar 285HV; 1/250 sec, f/8.0, ISO 100. RAW converted in Adobe Camera Raw, adjustments in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
unknown
March 2011: 3rd Place

March 2011: 3rd Place

PAUL THOMAS, 44, CONSTRUCTION WORKER, EAST ALTON, IL
"This was taken in my backyard—I often walk out here looking for flower shots, insects, birds. I noticed that the colors of this spirea japonica, against the background of a purple clematis, grass, and yellow daylilies, worked rather well. I like the fact that I can step outside and capture the beauty of nature right here at home." (flickr.com/photos/tumorboy) TECH SPECS: Nikon D300 with 80–400mm f/4.5–5.6 Nikkor AF VR lens, Nikon Speedlight SB-800; 1/250 sec at f/11, ISO 400. Saturation and contrast adjusted in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
W. Paul Thomas
February 2011: 1st Place

February 2011: 1st Place

GENO DELLA MATTIA, 55, WAREHOUSE STORAGE SPECIALIST, VANCOUVER, BC
"The photo was taken from the rooftop of the NH Parque Central Hotel in the heart of Old Havana, Cuba. Hurricane Paula had passed through a few days before our arrival, and the skies were still filled with dramatic clouds, so I wanted to get a sunset shot. To capture the action in the intersection below, as well as the statues in the park, I braced my camera against the handrail and tilted it down. I was using a fisheye lens to distort the horizon. I took three shots at 1/10, 1/20, and 1/6 sec to combine later in Photoshop, and then rejoined my patient wife for an evening at the Tropicana." (www.geno.ca) TECH SPECS: Canon EOS 5D Mark II with 15mm f/2.8 Canon EF lens; exposures at f/8, ISO 4000. Composited in Adobe Photoshop CS5 HDR Pro.
Geno DellaMattia
February 2011: 2nd Place

February 2011: 2nd Place

PATRICK ROLANDS, 44, AUTO WORKER, ST. CHARLES, MO
"At the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, MO, I'd long wanted to capture this Eurasian eagle owl, with its bright eyes against its neutral feathers. But it always turned away when people came near. So I was excited when it hopped up to the fence and looked at me—and I was ready to get the shot I'd hoped for." (rolandsphotoart.zenfolio.com) TECH SPECS: Tripod-mounted Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and 75–300mm f/4–5.6 Canon EF lens; 1/40 sec, f/18, ISO 400. RAW converted in Adobe Photoshop CS5.
February 2011: 3rd Place

February 2011: 3rd Place

JAN SOCHOR, 35, PHOTOGRAPHER AND MEDIA DESIGNER, CZECH REPUBLIC **
"I took this photo of a young orphan while I was working on a personal project in Croix-des-Bouquets, close to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in July of 2008. UNICEF estimates that there are currently around half a million orphans in Haiti." **TECH SPECS:
Nikon D200 with 18–70mm f/3.5–4.5 Nikkor lens; 1/13 sec at f/4, ISO 200. Edited in Adobe Lightroom.
Jan Sochor