National Park Trips received 2,500 spectacular photo entries to the 9th Annual National Park Photo Contest presented by Tamron. It was a difficult task to choose the winners because of the high quality of entries, but the judges have selected this year’s top photos.
The top photographer in each of three categories is awarded his or her choice of a Tamron lens: Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USDD G2 ($1,399 value), Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 ($1,199 value) or Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 ($1,299 value). Their photos will be featured in National Park Journal magazines hitting newsstands in late fall through summer.
In addition, 30 honorable mention winners will receive certificates and are featured on our national park websites.
As any talented photographer may tell you, the perfect photo is made up of 10% skill, 30% being in the right place at the right time and 60% patience and perseverance. The photographers who won the landscape, night skies and wildlife categories of our 9th Annual National Park Photography Contest sponsored by Tamron know that better than most. Here’s what it took to get their winning shots.
Bryan Anderson from Salt Lake City, Utah
Canyonlands National Park – Jeep Light Trail from Schafer Canyon Overlook
Salt Lake City resident Bryan Anderson had visited Canyonlands National Park in the past and been impressed by the dramatic and majestic views of Shafer Trail.
“Driving up the switchbacks, I half expected to see Wiley Coyote chasing the Roadrunner through the scene at any minute,” says Anderson.
When he decided to expand his light painting portfolio, he immediately knew he wanted to head back to the Shafer Trail Overlook. It was getting dark after an evening of shooting, and Anderson was getting ready to pack up for the night when his daughter spotted a lone Jeep coming up the road. He quickly set up the shot and opened his shutter for 22 minutes. The wide scene left no room for error – he knew he’d have one chance to get the shot. When the Jeep stopped a third of the way up for more than 10 minutes, he was sweating it, fearing the long stop would overexpose his shot. Miraculously, it didn’t.
Anderson’s advice to other light painting photographers? Know what you’re doing before you get out into the field. YouTube is your best friend.
Eileen Hartmann from Monmouth, Ore.
Lake Clark National Park – Swimming Brown Bear
Lake Clark National Park is not a destination for the faint of heart. A land full of turquoise glacial lakes and grizzly bears, a float plane is the only way in. Eileen Hartmann and her husband flew to Lake Clark in the autumn to photograph the bears. A guided boat took them out to Crescent Lake where they watched bears on the beaches. Because the salmon were running, Hartmann saw grizzlies everywhere she looked. They’re used to seeing people on the boats and don’t feel threatened by them. Suddenly, a grizzly spotted a salmon carcass in the water and began swimming towards the boat. Hartmann began firing away. The bear turned and looked at her boat when she was 150-feet away, and that was the winning shot.
“They’re fascinating to watch,” Hartmann says. “The mothers are so good with the cubs and you’d be shocked at how fast they can run.”
Hartmann practices her wildlife photographer in her backyard with her dogs or at the skate park. Knowing how to pan with a moving object is key to getting a sharp wildlife photo.
Night Skies Winner
Juan David from Moose, Wyo.
Grand Teton National Park – Jenny Lake reflects the Tetons and Milky Way
Juan David is lucky enough to call Grand Teton National Park his backyard. A wounded combat veteran, David turned to photography to help get him outside.
“The camera is healing,” he says. “Photography has been a lifesaver for me.”
David ventures out to the park in the wee hours of the morning often. His photos have been used at the park visitor center to help educate visitors on how light pollution affects bats. His winning photo was taken on his birthday. On the last stop of the night, he got out of his car to try to capture the Milky Way over Jenny Lake. He wasn’t happy with the composition, and there was rustling coming from the bushes. The park can be eerie at night. He almost called it quits, but stayed a few minutes longer, finding a composition he was happy with and clicking the shutter before heading home.
Patience and practice are his advice to burgeoning night photographers. Just keep shooting.
Landscape Honorable Mention
John Pless, Christine Kenyon, Bryan Anderson, Josephine Fox, Rich Martello, Bruce Herwig, Michael Wilson, Seungho Yoo, Lisa Erdberg, Karol Cooper
Bryce Canyon National Park – Winter Dawn at the Amphitheater
Grand Canyon National Park – The sun’s rays light up the Colorado River
Grand Teton National Park – An early morning paddle on Leigh Lake
Joshua Tree National Park – Blazing sunset
Zion National Park – Virgin River swimmers under the Watchman
Yosemite National Park – A grand tree in the valley breaks through winter fog under Half Dome
Yosemite National Park – Sunrise at Valley View
Grand Teton National Park – Autumn gold on the Snake River
Death Valley National Park – Sunset storm at Badwater Basin
Arches National Park – Sundown on Delicate Arch
Wildlife Honorable Mention
Taylor Albright, Chad Coppess, Cassie Moats, Brandi Lyon, Debbie Salvesen, Kurt Leblanc, Gloria Strnad, Xiaoying Shi, Kathleen Ricker
Mount Rushmore National Memorial – Mountain goat wandering through the wildflowers
Yellowstone National Park – Black bear eating flowers
Lake Clark National Park – A fox gives a wide yawn
Badlands National Park – A bighorn sheep blends into the colorful landscape
Katmai National Park – A brown bear suddenly charges then makes an outstretched dive onto a school of salmon in Brooks River
Yellowstone National Park – Bison exhaling a thick cloud of steam
Glacier Bay National Park – Breaching humpback whale
Glacier National Park – A mountain goat keeps watch
Badlands National Park – A bighorn lamb easily navigates the landscape
Katmai National Park – Brown bear shakes off the water
Night Skies Honorable Mention
Jason Mihalick, Alexandra Cotoulas, Andrew Raaber, Randy Yost, Jose Torres, Jatinkumar Thakkar, Christine Kenyon, Moon Kyong, Kathy Durrett, Evan Wardell
Acadia National Park – Milky way rising over Thunder Hole
Arches National Park – Flashlight paints the arch
Lake Clark National Park – The Northern Lights reflect on the water
Death Valley National Park – The stars reflect off a flooded Badwater Basin
Arches National Park – Milky Way rising over Balanced Rock
Yellowstone National Park – The Milky Way reflects over the turquoise water of Abyss Pool at West Thumb Geyser Basin
Crater Lake National Park – Milky Way over Wizard Island
Grand Canyon National Park – Lightning mimics the canyon below at the North Rim
Crater Lake National Park – Milky Way over Wizard Island
Joshua Tree National Park – The Milky Way parallels a crooked tree