We asked you to show us the green spaces you love and passionately want to conserve. And you responded with 7,643 gorgeous photos from mountain tops and canyons to community gardens and backyards. Thank you! It wasn’t easy but we have the winners.You can view the 10 finalists on the photo contest site.
Congratulations Sarah, Gigi, Brent, and Kelly.
Thank you to our generous sponsors: Southwest Airlines, Deuter USA, and Backcountry Edge.
Gigi Ebert, The Watchman
Sarah Palmisano, Smoky Mountain River Scene
D Brent Young, Sunrise on July 4th
Kelly Hibbs, Mirror Lakes
Q: When did taking photographs become a passion?
A: Twenty years ago I was in Alaska photographing grizzly bears when I realized the potential of photography to bring awareness and preservation to endangered wildlife and our environment. That was a defining moment for me.
Q: How did the shot for The Watchman come about?
A: It had been raining for three days when I arrived in Zion so I had little hope of obtaining any good images. Soon after I parked my car however, the clouds started parting, the sun started setting, and the color was magnificent. I wanted to shoot the scene at f16-f21 but it was so cold and damp that my aperture was stuck on f8. Turned out that the medium aperture gave the scene an incredible look!
Q: Is there a photographer who inspires you?
A: Tom Mangelsen's wildlife photography constantly amazes and inspires me.
Q: Name the next place you'd like to visit and take photographs.
A: Hallo Bay, Katmai National Park, to photograph my beloved grizzly bears!
Q: The Watchman was a clear choice among the judges for First Place. Why does it stand out? What distinguishes it from the other 7000+ submissions?
A: Composition, light, color, uniqueness, and the landscape's features. The picture is perfectly balanced with just the right amount of sky, with the water tying everything together. I love how the rocks seem to glow from the light above. And the setting, Zion National Park, is one of the places we all should visit before we die.
Q: What are some of the reasons why striking photos were ultimately rejected?
A: In some cases, the saturation settings were turned way up, giving the pictures an unnatural color. In others, the photos were improperly cropped, making the pictures look unbalanced. The degree of detail and crispness played a big role as well. Some photos were a bit too muddy or soft-focused.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring professional nature photographers?
A: As an editor who has worked at Outside, Backpacker, National Wildlife and other outdoor magazines, I'd advise you to get at much technical training as possible, particularly in digital photography and Photoshop. Then, when you're taking pictures, look for images that put the viewers in the story, as if they can step in and experience what's being shown.
Q: What was the most outstanding nature or wildlife photo you have taken and what were the circumstances?
A: I'd rather talk about my favorite photographer to work with, Tyler Stableford. He once had me pose on a two-inch ledge in New York State's famous climbing area, The Shawangunks, while he shot me from above. I was terrified, but Tyler managed to make me look just keenly interested. Men's Journal recently named Tyler one of the world's top adventure photographers. He's a first-rate athlete himself, which helps him go to places others can't. I assign him stories whenever I can.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to say or add?
A: The greatest photos are often taken at unpredictable moments: A sudden appearance of bear cubs (watch for the Mama!), sunrise hitting a mountain peak, a child sitting on a rock just so. Make sure you always have a camera with you, even if it's just a point-and-shoot with a great lens. It's not just for the memory. It's for the story.
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