2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards finalists

In addition to the three winning photos from the 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards, we’re thrilled to present this gallery of 22 finalists: 

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Photographer: Karin Leperi

Location and date: Near Calgary, Alberta, February 12, 2018.

Description: It was a cold February morning on the outskirts of Calgary. Overcast and dreary, the soft light was severely filtered, turning the snow-covered meadows and fields into a landscape devoid of color. Later that afternoon, I would experience my first white out – a snow blizzard with almost zero visibility. But the morning proved productive, with several sightings of Snowy Owls on a magical white carpet of snow.

There is something very magical about that moment when a “cloak of white feathers” soars on silent wings above milky white snows. Silence and stealth are synonymous. As such, the majestic Snowy Owl transports viewers to an ethereal space that is inhabited by frozen beauty, windswept prairies, and the chills of tundra. It’s the undeniable beauty and allure of white-on-white. And it’s the allure of experiencing something so beautifully wild followed by the elation when the image works.

I photographed in continuous mode as the female Snowy Owl swooped across the landscape -- the only distinguishing part being the barred lines on her feathers of white. Hand holding the camera, I vacillated between lying prone, crouching, and leaning against our vehicle for stability.

Gear and settings: Nikon D5, 600mm lens, f/4, ISO 360 at 1/2500 second.

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.

View the 2019 BirdWatching Photography Awards winners