When perusing the hundreds of entries for our 2020 photo contest, I kept looking for that one image that made me say “Wow!” I knew that would be our grand prize winner. The choice was easy—the massive scale of the ice compared to the tiny bicyclists at the toe of Knik Glacier, coupled with the clarity, color, and an “only in Alaska” vibe jumped out at me in Dan McDonough’s photo. Winners in each of the other categories—adventure, Alaskan life, scenic, and wildlife—piqued our interest for various reasons. We liked unique vantage points, action captured just so, attention to technical detail, and creative use of light or motion.
Cameras today are so sophisticated that, except for the pros, most of us have no idea what the majority of the settings on our models even do. We point; we shoot. We get what we get. The camera as a tool can be used to least or greatest advantage. But cultivating a “good eye,” for composition, lighting, timing, etc., as well as actively searching for new ways of showing a subject, is the foundation on which good equipment rests. Skills take practice, often years of field work, experimentation, paying attention to weather or time of day. Taking classes from a professional photographer helps speed up the learning process.
An excellent photo, though, is an excellent photo, and whether made by mostly chance, mostly experience, or a combination of the two, we are happy to share your best work here.
~ Susan Sommer, editor
2020 Photo Contest Winners
Photos depicting an active pursuit in Alaska: ziplining, exploring ice caves, heli-skiing, hiking, biking, bird watching, flight seeing, rafting, running, sport fishing, etc.
2nd Place — Photo by Lars Larson, knikriverlodge.com — The photographer accessed this glacial moulin via helicopter from his Palmer-based business, Knik River Lodge. He was the only one with enough gusto to jump in that day and says it was well worth some freezing appendages for this self-portrait. 3rd Place — Photo by Robin Wood, medianorthak.com — A hiker stands in sheer astonishment at the towering granite base of Sukakpak Mountain in the Brooks Range. At almost 4,500 feet, Sukakpak is one of the first major mountains encountered by north-bound travelers on Alaska’s Dalton Highway. Honorable Mention — Kristen Stengl — Potter-turned-photographer Kristen Stengl moved with her husband to the Fairbanks area in 2017. She says that capturing the aurora borealis has become a passion, and the resulting images are often the focal point of her most popular work.
Photos representing Alaskans and/or their way of life, traditions, culture, or authentic “only in Alaska” moments.
2nd Place — Photo by Rackell Kowalchuk — All bundled up at Castner Glacier. 3rd Place — Photo by Jamie Moore — A beautiful grayling caught in the winter. Honorable Mention — Photo by Kimberly Nesbitt — As a guide in the waters of southeast Alaska for many years, Kimberly Nesbitt makes a living watching humpback whales. “Viewing whales from a ship is cool,” she said, “but nothing got my heart racing like viewing them from eye level on the water line in a kayak.” She shared the experience shown here with friends and says, “This trip really drove home the idea of respecting the power of nature. Forty-foot-long humpbacks lunge feeding and tail slapping within the length of your kayak isn’t something you experience every day, even in Alaska, but it is why this is my favorite place on Earth.”
Photos emphasizing the landscape and scenery of Alaska with or without the human element.
2nd Place — Photo by Matt Skinner matt-skinner.pixels.com — The photographer captured this sunset along the Richardson Highway beside the Delta River. “The colors stayed in the sky for nearly an hour. It was truly mesmerizing,” he said. 3rd Place — Photo by Jacob Teague 49thstatephotos.com — Of a hidden rain forest in Girdwood, Jacob Teague said, “Just being on this trail gave you a sense that you were in an ancient place. The trees were massive, the mist and fog surrounded you, and around every bend in the trail the river became louder until you were met with an electric blue waterfall.” Honorable Mention — Photo by Desiree deLeeuw — Le Conte Glacier from above.
Photos of animals native to Alaska (not including images of animals in captivity).
2nd Place — Jennifer Fogle Smith jfsmithphotography.com — A yearling polar bear cub plays with a piece of kelp at sunset. 3rd Place — Dan King — In the photographer’s words: “It was a cold, sunny, windy day on the tundra of Alaska’s Arctic region. Late March, the arctic foxes begin to pair up for mating season. These two foxes were playing and chasing each other across the tundra. In this photo, they both stood on their hind legs and pawed and bit at each other.” Honorable Mention — Christopher Boswell chrisboswell.com — A tender moment shared by a cow moose and her calf.