Wildflower is published quarterly by the Wildflower Center. Its content is national in scope with articles about the conservation and use of native plants as well as news from the Wildflower Center. A subscription is provided to Wildflower Center members as a benefit of membership.
"If you see something that moves you and then snap it, you keep a moment."
— LINDA MCCARTNEY
IF THAT'S TRUE, THEN 5,000 MOMENTS were kept and entered in the 2011 Wildflower photo contest. The second Wildflower photo contest was held this year in partnership with Texas Highways – the travel magazine of Texas. About 1,500 photographers entered their "moments" in five categories: Botanical, Landscape, People with Wildflowers, Black and White, and Under 18.
About half of the entries were submitted in the Botanical category, more than 680 in the Landscape category and 270 in the People with Wildflowers category. The new categories Black and White and Under 18 reaped 251 and 325 entries, respectively.
As you can imagine, choosing the best among these was an enormous job for the judges, who reviewed photographs all summer to narrow 5,000 down to 500 and then down to 125 finalists. Then we got together for the better part of a day to hash out opinions and stand up for our favorites. The winners had to be vetted to make sure their subjects were North American natives. And now, we bring you the "moments" you've been waiting for.
It's probably no surprise that three of our winning photographers come from a place that seems made to inspire nature photographers: California. Roy Lim grew up in Loma Linda, California, but found the location for this photograph of dogwood (Cornus sp.) near where he studies nursing at Southern Adventist University in Tennessee. "We just saw the flowering tree outside of a retirement home and decided to pull over," Lim says. He got his Canon T2I last year and takes it with him wherever he goes.
Sometimes the best photographs are taken when you're just warming up. That's what happened when Trina Woodall went out with her then 4-year-old daughter Ainsley. The Woodalls found this field about two blocks from their northeast Austin home covered in Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) on an overcast day in 2010. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some fun shots.
"I didn't have any lighting with me, and we were just setting things up. Ainsley was playing around and had picked that flower and was looking up at me," says Woodall. "It ended up being the best one."
Woodall – who used a Canon 7D for this picture – has been taking pictures seriously for four years and has just started working as a professional photographer.
Bryan Hodges took this photograph about 20 years ago but knew it had potential when he learned about the new category in the Wildflower photography contest in Texas Highways magazine. Crawling around on hands and knees, he used a Canon 10S and a 100 mm macro lens to capture the detail on these bluebonnet (Lupinus texensis) leaves photographed near Lake Burnet in the Texas Hill Country. A Tyler, Texas, native, Hodges works for TxDOT and has a family-portrait studio. When not photographing for work, though, he enjoys taking pictures of nature the most.
Peggy Hankins spent 33 years living in Santa Rosa, California, working for the electric company before deciding to move back home to Bishop, California, in the Owens Valley. "It's hard to take a bad picture in this valley," says Hankins, who has taken photographs all her life. She took this one on the road to nearby Death Valley with a Canon PowerShot while lying on the ground. "I loved the desert aster's small bluish flowers but thought the detail stood out better in black and white," she says. "When you first come out here to the desert, you think everything is gray landscape, but if you stop a moment and look you see there are flowers popping up here and there: purple sage with pretty purple buds, lupines, scarlet milkvetch." The Owens Valley itself is about 20 miles wide, surrounded by Mount Whitney and the Sierras on one side and the White Mountains on the other.
Zsuzsa Buchwald takes her camera with her wherever she travels. In 2008 her Nikon D70 wound up camping in Yosemite, where she took this winning picture of Scouler's St. Johnswort (Hypericum scouleri) and giant red Indian paintbrush (Castilleja miniata ssp. miniata) with Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls in the background. When not out taking photographs, Hungarian-born Buchwald studies behavioral neuroscience and pre-med at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She has never taken a class, though, in her favorite hobby, photography.
Like hundreds of others, school district computer technician Larry Gates was drawn to this spot in Jarrettsville, Maryland, where sunflowers grow as far as the eye can see. While most of the photographers there were shooting individual sunflowers from within the field or wideangle shots of the entire field, Gates found a side road that allowed him to get behind the flowers, grown by Clear Meadow Farm's Zach Rose and harvested for birdseed each year.
"As you drive there, it is a while before you see anything but trees. Then you come down from the crest of a hill and it's like opening the door into Oz. There's yellow as far as you can see!" says Gates, whose Olympus E-3 and 400 mm lens opened the door to what it's like there for us all. Gates worked for 13 years as a photographer for the Smithsonian museums and recently started a photography business of his own.
Reny Parker says she was lucky to be able to get this photograph on what is among the windiest spots on the Pacific coast: Point Reyes National Seashore north of San Francisco. "The coast buckwheat [Eriogonum latifolium] is a rather stiff plant and was protected by a big rock from the heavy winds so it didn't dance about," Parker says.
Parker – who used a Nikon D50 with a Nikkor 18-108 zoom lens – works as a semiprofessional photographer whose goal is to help people appreciate nature. She authored "Wildflowers of Northern California's Wine Country and North Coast Ranges." She spends part of the year in Northern California when she's not in Iowa.
When Deltona, Florida, resident Lori Hutchison was finishing up her degree in photography from Daytona State College in 2010, one of her last courses was portrait lighting. "I would practice on flowers. I saw the magnolias [M. grandiflora] in bloom, grabbed one and set it on a table with black backdrop and one strobe with a soft box on it," she says. She used a Nikon D300 S and a 70-210 lens. "With that one light, I kept repositioning the flower to get this picture."
Sabrina Rohwer only had to step out her front door to take this photograph of Mexican hats (Ratibida columnifera). "We have 20 acres, and there were some growing and I noticed they looked really cool with the natural lighting at noon."
Rohwer and her family live in Dripping Springs, Texas. Now that she got a new camera – a Nikon Coolpix L10 – for Christmas, she gets out and takes pictures regularly. "I take pictures of flowers and plants a lot and like to photograph how things naturally are," she says.