Are you ready? Drumroll, please. We are showcasing the Your Best Shot of 2018 contest finalists. All of the finalists dazzled us with their photography and post-production skills. The photographers have been kind enough to reveal their secrets to their respected pictures. Some required very little post, others extensive. However, the one thing they all have in common is that they are amazing at their craft and we are so proud to introduce them to our community. Each will receive an exclusive Printique photo book showcasing their beautiful images. Now, let’s have a peek at how these images came to be.
Grand Prize Winner : Buddy Eleazer : Follow the Leader
The story behind the shot:
The photo of two oryx ((Oryx gazella) was taken from a helicopter above the Namib-Naukluft Desert in Namibia in October 2018. Although the ascent is strenuous and the sun is extremely hot, relief awaits gemsbok (Oryx gazella) at the top of the dunes in the Namib Desert. Along the ridgeline, the antelope will find a cool, moist inland breeze blowing in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. By breathing this cooler, moist air, the animal is able to reduce the temperature of the blood traveling to the brain, helping the desert dweller avoid overheating while also providing much needed water to the oryx in this parched desert setting.
I had heard about this phenomenon many years ago. Prior to this trip to Namibia, I researched the internet to glean information related to this behavior, I knew I need to know the critical time of day as well as the probably locations. I investigated use of helicopters, airplanes and balloons as options to photograph the event. From those studies, I learned that late morning was a key time as the air blowing in from the ocean still contains significant moisture yet, the ambient temperatures are building at this time of day. I chose to shoot from a helicopter with doors removed to provide maximum ability to get elevation and angles for the photography.
As we approached a small herd of oryx, two walked to the curved sand dune ridge. I had the pilot swing around to a better sun angle and, at that moment, one of the oryx chose to sprint down the shadow side of the dune. By pure luck, the sand being kicked up by the running oryx was perfectly illuminated by the sun peeking over the top of the dune with a backdrop of the dune in shadow. I had a large enough lens to zoom in tight, but wanted to make sure I captured the ‘sense of place’ of the two oryx and the tall dunes with bright and shadow areas.
Camera body: Canon 1Dx MkII
Camera lens: Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L III
Lens setting Focal Length 102mm, Shutter priority, 1/5000 sec., f/2.8, ISO 320, Exposure Bias: 0 EV,
About the Photographer
B. (Buddy) Eleazer is a nature and wildlife photographer living in Allentown, Pennsylvania. For Buddy, the goal when photographing wildlife is to connect with the subject. While this can be achieved via portraits and capturing close details, Buddy prefers compositions that are not so tight but rather allow the viewer to gain a sense of place.
Since 2010, Buddy has been taking groups on safari to Africa 3 to 5 times each year. Buddy’s focus is the southern Africa, specifically, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Over the years Buddy has developed a close relationship with many guides, rangers and lodges in the region. These relationships have been vital in allowing Mr. Eleazer to visit these regions at key times of the year as well as to allow a better understand animal behavior.der”, Photo by P. B. Eleazer, III
Pregnancies are all different, and this was mine. More than 250 injections, 40 doctor appointments, 25 ultrasounds, 20 non stress tests, 3 MRIs, 3 OB/GYNs, 2 specialists and a neurologist, endless days of worry and in the end 1 perfect baby boy.
In August of 2017, at the age of 29, I was hospitalized and diagnosed with a large blood clot in my brain. When I was told that pregnancy would not be safe for me, the feeling of loss after already having experienced 4 failed pregnancies was devastating. Fortunately, our little miracle had other plans. On December 8th, 2018 William arrived safely via C-section at a healthy 9lbs 15oz. He defied all the odds and so did I.
12 days after my C-section, filled with emotions, I found myself standing on the table in the living room of our 1 bedroom apartment trying to tell my story with nothing but my camera, my baby boy, some reminders of our challenging journey and the natural light spilling through the sliding glass door.
(Canon EOS 5D Mark Il, 50 mm Sigma Art lens, captured manually at 1/125 sec, 1/2.8 and ISO 400)
We’ve all seen sunsets, and we’ve all seen moonsets. But, have you ever witnessed a galaxyset? Here, our herculean intergalactic neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy, sets against the austere, snow-dusted peak of Engineer Mountain in southern Colorado. This image is the culmination of months of detailed planning, a 24-hour road trip covering 500 miles, 3 hours of setup and shooting in 15-degree air above 10k feet (in near darkness!), and another week of post-processing. Witnessing this spectacle required near-perfect timing and positioning, along with meticulous setup and execution of both tracked and untracked shots of the sky and foreground, all within a 15-minute window as the galaxy slid between the mountain peak and a nearby ridge.
I love this shot because it juxtaposes the uniquely fleeting experience of watching an entire galaxy descending toward the horizon with the unfathomable antiquity of the light my camera captured—2.5 million-year-old photons, to be precise! As this tiny bit of ancient light ended its long, inevitable journey to my spot along highway 550, I wondered about distant Andromedan civilizations that might be peering out upon the heavens back toward our own ghostly spiral disk, the Milky Way, and witnessing a similar, but altogether alien scene.
I am a physicist and a photographer specializing in nightscapes. This particular image combines a stack (for noise reduction) of sixteen 40-second exposures taken at 160mm focal length, f/3.5, ISO 800, atop a motorized star-tracking mount, and another six identical exposures of the static foreground taken immediately afterward with the tracking motor off, all using a Nikon D810 body and a 70-200mm f/2.8E lens. The exposure settings were chosen so the brightest parts of the galaxy (which are still super dim!) were just shy of blowing out. I stacked and blended the crisp sky and foreground images in Photoshop, with some star alignment assistance from Deep Sky Stacker. For those interested in learning more, a full write-up/tutorial covering the details of my planning, execution, and post processing can be found at: https://www.paulschmitphotography.com/How-To-Guides/Capturing-Galaxyset
(Nikon D810, 70-200mm f/2.8E, ISO 800)
Please note that the rainbow and kayakers are real, not photoshopped. Natures natural lighting and timing came together perfectly. We could not have asked for a better day. The hike itself is short but steep to say the least, with loose rocks and sudden drop offs when closer the falls. The ending photo made every part of the hike down and climb back to the top worth it. Cant wait to go back. Location Pacific Northwest, off the Columbia Gorge, Washington, Spirit Falls
(Nikon D750,Lens Nikkor 24-120 VR, Shutter 1/4000,Focal length 5, F-stop 5, ISO 360)
I call this image Tribute in the Clouds because that is exactly what it is. This photo of the Tribute in Lights (captured on September 11, 2018) memorial that has been put on display in lower Manhattan since 2002 in remembrance of all the lives lost from the September 11th terrorist attack in 2001. The image was captured from an open door helicopter with my friends at FlyNYON. That night we had some weather roll in with low clouds and while normally this can put a damper on images with these lights it simply added to this scene. The low clouds and lights going through them lighting up the sky added such an amazing back drop behind the new One World Trade Center. When shooting photography from a helicopter, it can be difficult and adds a challenge. I’ve been doing it for many years now and always try to set up the framing I am looking for quickly, while firing as many shots as possible. Night time adds even more of a challenge just because of the drastic lighting changes. The low clouds, Tribute Lights, World Trade Center, and surrounding city lights added so much to the scene. I’ve also always been known for images with bright vivid colors so I applied my style editing to the image in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop and the final results are something I am truly happy to of captured. If anyone ever has any questions regarding aerial photography or just in general feel free to reach out!
(Sony a7R III, Sony 35mm f/1.4 ZA Lens, ISO 1600, 35mm, F 1.4, 1/320)
This was an EF-2 tornado near Federal, WY on May 27, 2018. Federal is about 25 miles to the NW of Cheyenne. Storm chasing is part science and part luck. My wife and I knew there would be possibly a chance of tornadoes that afternoon across SE Wyoming but we had to use our knowledge of mesoscale meteorology to pursue the right storm. We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time as the tornado emerged from the rain about 2 miles down the road. I noticed there was a windmill and some structures in the foreground, so I composed my image and waited for the tornado to cross into the viewfinder. Just 4 minutes after first witnessing the tornado, it was gone. Part science, part luck. Both were on my side that day!
( Sony A7rII with a Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS with settings of 1/200 sec., f/6.3, ISO 800)
Went to Shinnecock Inlet that evening for the sunset and then some Milky Way shooting. Persoid meteors were also in the sky that night. This was my last set up of the night around midnight at Ponquogue Beach at the south end of the bridge along Dune Road, Hampton Bays, NY. Mars was prominent in the sky that summer and you can see its reflection off the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the blue path. The orange glow to the right was from a bonfire on the beach just outside the right side of the image.
(Canon 70D with a Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8 lens @ 11mm, 15 sec, ISO 6400)
This is a female rufous hummingbird and honey bee fighting over the feeder in my backyard last October. I love photographing all birds, but hummingbirds are by far my favorite. They are fascinating little birds and I also enjoy the challenge of capturing them in flight.
(Nikon D600, Sigma 150-600 lens, ISO 640, exposure 1/160 sec at f/7.1, 600mm focal length. I also used my Alien Bee light to help freeze motion.)
First, I want to congratulate everyone who has made it this far, and thank both the judges and people who liked my photo on Instagram, it’s truly an honor. I know how difficult it is to choose just one image among such a diverse and speculator set of images; I even had trouble myself selecting just one image to enter for the contest. The one thing that really led me to enter this shot was that I thought it had eye-catching elements in both the foreground with the rocks and the background with the mountains and ominous clouds, but also in the mid-ground with the colorful canoes and turquoise blue water. The photo was taken on a cloudy day in June in Banff National Park of Moraine Lake. I took a long weekend to travel to Banff following a business trip in Calgary, and woke up early in the morning to try to capture the sunrise, which never came. Fortunately, the clouds added an element of interest that maybe a sunny day couldn’t convey. I used my widest lens, a Nikkor 17-35 2.8, and three filters (a polarizer, 6 stop ND, and a 3 stop graduated filter) on my Nikon D850 to capture a long exposure and help parse out the details in the clouds. While I took a few images, this is a single image edited in Lightroom. I actually chose a more underexposed image to edit to draw out more of the details in the clouds, then used the great dynamic range on my Nikon camera to bring back the shadows in the foreground and mid-ground. A little clarity, dehaze, and vibrance were also added.
(Nikon D850,Nikkor 17-35 F2.8, Polarizing Filter -6 Stop ND Filter, 3 Stop GND Filter, Tripod)
The image was shot at the annual raptor fest at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, St. Petersburg, FL, The owl is owned and trained by famous raptor rescuer and trainer Steve Hoddy who was very instrumental in saving the California Condors. He brings his raptors to the event every year. In this shot, he had just released the bird from its cage and I got the shot as it was preparing to land on its perch. I had no idea that I was luck enough to grab this shot until I got home and uploaded the morning’s shoot. Post was simply converting from RAW to JPEG and the image was highly cropped to bring in the shot. I do not have the RAW image in that after converting my work from RAW, I simply keep the JPEG image.
(Canon 7D Mark II with a Canon 100-400 mm 4.5-5.6 IS USM L lens, f5 at 1/1000th)
I am an avid airplane photographer, with a focus on high altitude shots. On this day, while working in my backyard, I spotted two aircraft in close proximity to one another. I was fortunate to have my camera nearby and caught the shot.
(Canon EOS 60D, with a Canon lens 100/400, exposure 1/400 sec, aperture F 5.6, ISO 100, focal length 200 )
I was on a trip with Blue Ocean Whale Watch on Monterey Bay when we came across a very active humpback whale. This whale breached roughly fifty times in the hour that we were watching. They weigh 40 tons, so it is amazing that they can do this even once! I went below decks to shoot this photo from a porthole closer to the water. I love the perspective of looking up at the whale. She was pretty close to the boat and the light was very even so I was able to get a lot of detail in the shot.
( Nikon D500, Tamron 18-400, ISO 400, f11, 1/1000, shot at 300mm )
Taken in the Tuli Game Block, Mashatu Botswana from the hide at a water hole at 15:15 while the elephants were approaching to enjoy a mud bath.
(Canon EOS 5D IV, Canon EF 24-70 2.8 IS II USM photo taken with 24mm, f5.6 1/6000 sec ISO 500)
Thank you to everyone! We are honored and humbled to have such a creative community supporting us. We hope to see you next year for Your Best Shot of 2019!