Photo Contest

The winners of the magazine's thirty-fourth annual photography competition are revealed

12-01-2004 // Heidi Ridgley
Photo Contest bear holding foot

John Morrow II
Glen Echo, Maryland
While out hiking during summer in Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Morrow spotted this subadult female grizzly waking up from a nap along the riverbank. "I love photographing bears because they work me to death," says the construction executive. "They're always on the move or back in the woods where lighting is marginal." To catch this bear in her playful pose, he used a 300mm lens with a 2x extender.

"TO ME, photography is so much more than just seeing the images I took," says Gail Hansche. "It's about the excitement of being out in nature." The Massachusetts postal worker got an unexpected thrill while out taking photos in Florida last year when an alligator splashed into the water behind her to snatch its next meal. Her resulting image is the grand prize winner of National Wildlife's 34th annual photography competition. Hansche is among the 13 readers whose photos were chosen from more than 2,000 entries submitted during the past year. They were selected by the editors on the basis of originality and technical execution--and their potential for helping viewers gain a greater appreciation for the natural world. To view additional contest submissions and to learn how to enter next year's competition, visit "Photo Zone."

Photo Contest Aspen trees in snow

Frank Weston
Littleton, Colorado
Caught in a snowstorm in the Colorado Rockies while photographing aspens in fall, Weston says he was just about to give up when he turned a bend in the road and this dramatic scene "slammed me in the face." Standing on a slope to get just the right angle, he kept sliding down in the wet and sloppy snow. "But the thimbleberry leaves didn't have a snowflake on them," says the geologist, "because it was relatively warm outside and the snow didn't stick, making the orange on white absolutely stunning." 

Photo Contest fly on passionflower

Dong-Hwan Choe
Riverside, California
Right--It shouldn't come as a surprise that this entomology student's favorite subjects to photograph are insects and spiders. Choe spotted this carpenter bee pollinating a native passion flower while he was en route to the library on the University of California–Riverside campus. Choe zoomed in on the busy bee at high noon using a digital camera with a 100mm macro lens.

Photo Contest hummingbird chick

Jerry James
San Mateo, California
To take this digital photo of an Anna's hummingbird feeding her two chicks near his patio, James only had to stand on a raised flower bed. He watched the bird build her tiny, head-high nest and then kept an eye out for chicks. When they arrived, the retired engineer focused in from 12 feet away using a 100-300mm zoom lens. 

Photo Contest alligator with bluecrab

Gail Hansche
Norfolk, Massachusetts
Creeping along on her knees following a spoonbill on Sanibel Island in Florida, Hansche heard a splash, spun her camera around and started clicking. The result: this 8-foot alligator about to chomp a blue crab. "It was a once in a lifetime photo," says the U.S. Postal Service worker. "If I had looked to see what made the splash, I never would've gotten the photo. It was over that fast." To freeze frame this life-and-death struggle, she used a 500mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.

 Photo Contest magazine layout squirrel closeup

Kris Derdivanis
Venice, California
Giving what looks like a toothy grin, this gray squirrel appears curious about the camera, but it really was interested in the peanut in Kris Derdivanis's hand. Derdivanis zoomed in to take this digital photo from the front yard of her home. "I was reaching up to give him a peanut and he just gave me a smile," says the interior designer.

Photo Contest Cardinal flying in snow

Wendy Kaveney
Carmel, Indiana
It was so cold outside Indianapolis the Super Bowl Sunday when Kaveney photographed this cardinal that she thought her shutter finger might end up frostbitten. To get the digital image using a 100-400mm zoom lens, the former nurse turned full-time mom took more than 200 images at a reservoir about 15 miles from her home. "I like to go there during winter because the birds look so beautiful in the snow," she says.

Photo Contest magazine layout sandhill crane and chick

Richard Demier
Princeton, New Jersey
Along the shoreline of the Myakka River in west-central Florida, Demier spotted a sandhill crane giving its two-week-old chick an early-morning foraging lesson. To avoid startling the birds, he laid on the ground and used a 600mm lens on his digital camera to photograph the pair as they moved close enough to touch. "It was kind of worrisome because I've seen them spear frogs, toads and even snakes with their long, sharp beaks," says the retired corporate executive. "I didn't want that to happen to me."

Photo Contest eye with feathers

Robert Doles
Franklin, Indiana
Seeking shelter from a fierce wind blowing off the Peace River in Florida, this brown pelican buried its beak beneath a wing as Doles captured the pose using a digital camera with a 2.8-56mm zoom lens. Lashley Park in Punta Gorda is the retired school teacher's favorite spot to visit in winter and birds are his preferred subjects.

Photo Contest tidepool sunset

Mark Rasmussen
Galva, Illinois
"In Oregon, you have to fight the rain and clouds an awful lot when you're taking photographs, but when it clears, there's a magic there that doesn't exist anywhere else," says Rasmussen, who makes the westward journey at least once a year. Encountering this tidal pool while walking along the beach in Bandon State Natural Area, the engineer noticed a similar cloud shape above. He took the photo using a 22-55mm lens at its shortest focal length.

Photo Contest asian vinesnake

Mark Bartosik
Houston, Texas
After spending a couple of hours watching several Asian vine snakes at the Dallas Zoo, Bartosik captured this one on film sliding down a bamboo stalk at precisely the moment it glanced his way. The chemist, who has a degree in zoology and "a preference for reptiles," used a 35-140mm zoom lens and an off-camera flash to create the soft lighting and perfectly centered shadow.

Photo Contest Gulls kissing

Kevin Doxstater
Port Orange, Florida
Doxstater photographed two laughing gulls courting during springtime on a beach near his home. He used a 500mm lens and 1.4x teleconverter.

 Photo Contest Avocet birds hugging

Rob Palmer
Loveland, Colorado
Using a 500mm lens and 2x teleconverter, Palmer photographed a pair of American avocets at a pond near his home.

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