First place in our 2019 Bird Portrait Contest goes to Rajesh Mohan of Woburn, Massachusetts, for this stunning photo of a Northern Gannet. He made the photo on July 26, 2017, at Bonaventure National Park, an island off the eastern coast of Quebec that is home to a gannet breeding colony numbering 116,000 birds.
Here’s how he describes the image:
“This photograph of a Northern Gannet is special for me. I wanted an intimate photograph that showed the sharp features of this bird that enable it to perform extraordinary tactics. It can dive into water at 60 mph, brace for impact, quickly adapting its eyes from the glittering surface above water to underwater to chase down a fish. In all this, the beak and the eyes play a big role. I used a 600mm +1.4x and scanned the birds for this frame. Finally, on the second day, late in the day, the light changed to something magical and everything came together. And one bird turned to give this perfect frame of the beak, the lines, and both the eyes. It looks more mechanical, like a high-performance rocket ready to take off. Shortly after I took the shot, the ranger nudged me to leave to catch the last ferry out.”
Professional photographer Dudley Edmondson, one of the contest judges, praised the photo. “It was a real honor to take part in judging this competition,” he says. “The winning Northern Gannet image really stood out to me for its symmetry, in particular the choice to focus on the balanced pattern of the bird’s eyes and beak. The instinct to make that pattern the subject of the photograph shows this photographer’s creative eye. Job well done.”
Rajesh used the following gear and settings: Canon Mark IV, Canon 600mm lens plus 1.4x extender on a tripod. 1/1250 sec, ISO 640.
The photo was among more than 1,000 entries that we received during the contest period last fall and was among the 12 finalists we announced last week. Check the links below for the second- and third-place images as well as our finalists and honorable mentions.