In addition to the three winning photos from the 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards, we’re thrilled to present this gallery of 22 finalists:
Photographer: James Hendon
Location and date: Salton Sea, California, October 24, 2014.
Description: Exploring the Salton Sea shoreline with my grandmother, an enthusiastic birdwatcher (now deceased), I noticed a tall dike with a road on top, leading out to some very large dead trees along the shore. I thought the trees would make a good silhouette just at sunset. As I got closer, I saw one tree was filled with Double-crested Cormorants, with more coming in to roost each minute. I drove fairly close without startling the birds and shot from the car, resting the lens on the half-open window. The tall dike -- perhaps 20 feet -- was an especially lucky shooting spot, enabling me to shoot across at the birds, instead of up at them. I took a lot of photos -- filling the frame with light, shadow, birds, and bare branches -- some with just a few birds, as the cormorants croaked and called softly to each other. Great fun. The closeups are competition worthy, in my view. But only this shot of an entire tree loaded with these sleek waterbirds adequately captures the moment.
Gear and settings: Olympus E-510 at about 150mm (4/3 sensor equivalent) using an Olympus zoom lens. Camera was set at F5.6, 1/320th, ISO 200.
Thanks to our judges: Matt Mendenhall, editor of BirdWatching; Wes Pitts, editor of Outdoor Photographer; Marie Read, an award-winning nature photographer based near Ithaca, New York; and Brian E. Small, a professional nature photographer based in Los Angeles whose photos illustrate our “ID Tips” column.