The stories behind the winning shots from the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards
Ever seen a winning image in a gallery and wondered what led up to the moment it was made?
Sometimes the story behind the photograph can spark as much inspiration as the photo itself, especially since it can shed new light on the subject matter being photographed.
Below is a small snapshot of the stories behind the winning images from the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards.
In its eleventh year, the Audubon Awards is a North American bird photography competition that celebrates the wonderful world of avian life. This year’s winning images were selected for the way they showcase the resilience and beauty of birds, big and small, terrestrial and aquatic.
The Overall Grand Prize Winner
Species: Double-crested Cormorant
Location: Los Islotes, Mexico
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 DX AF Fisheye lens; 1/640 second at f/6.3; ISO 320
"I’ve spent many hours underwater at this California sea lion rookery in the Bay of La Paz, but I had never before encountered diving cormorants there. Shifting my focus from the playful sea lions, I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak-first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by. Although I spent a long time admiring these birds, I didn’t see a single one catch a fish. Adding insult to injury, curious sea lion pups would zip by the hunting birds and nip at them from behind."
The Professional Winner
Species: Magnificent Frigatebird
Location: Genovesa Island, Ecuador
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/1250 second at f/8.0; ISO 1250
"The sun was setting behind a frigatebird breeding colony in the Galápagos. The birds were very active and stunningly close, and the experience was all the more special because I was with great friends who were equally mesmerized by the scene. We got on the sand, lying on our bellies and handholding our cameras, composing silhouettes and starbursts on birds’ wingtips. I noticed this male, with his throat pouch lit up by the sun, and zoomed in to capture his portrait."
The Amateur Winner
Species: Bare-throated Tiger-Heron
Location: Tárcoles River, Costa Rica
Camera: Canon EOS-1D X with Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens; 1/800 second at f/4.0; ISO 1600
"After a torrential rainstorm, I went out on a late-afternoon boat trip on the Tárcoles River. It was still raining when we left the boat ramp, but once the sky finally cleared, we spotted this Bare-throated Tiger-Heron walking along the river. As the boat drifted by, the bird leaned over the bank to watch us. I raised my camera and quickly switched to a portrait orientation to capture the beautiful post-storm sky behind it."
The Youth Winner
Species: Northern Jacana
Location: New River, Orange Walk District, Belize
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens; 1/320 second at f/5.0; ISO 1250
"On a boat ride on the New River, I noticed a few Northern Jacanas on a patch of water lilies and asked the captain to stop. I hoped our vessel wouldn’t scare away the birds. I couldn’t believe my luck when one walked closer and closer to us. The boat was rocking, but when the bird stopped for a moment to peer into a water lily, I was able to set up and get this special shot."
The Plants for Birds Winner
This award goes to a photograph that emphasises the vitality of native plants as the natural environment and as the food source for birds.
Species: American Goldfinch
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Camera: Nikon D7100 with Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Model A011 lens; 1/160 second at f/10.0; ISO 320
"Through frequent visits to North Mississippi Regional Park, an area restored with native plants, I became familiar with the cup plant and learned that its leaves can hold rainwater, as the name suggests. I read that birds and other wildlife like to drink from these plants, so I always keep an eye out for bird activity when I pass by them. Finally one late July day I was lucky enough to witness a female American Goldfinch plunge her head into a plant."
You can find out more about the Audobon Awards via The Audobon website.