The Winner (And Runners Up) of the Great Outdoors Photography Contest

Today, we’re announcing the winner and the runners up for our Great Outdoors Photography Contest.

We are done withour amazing Great Outdoors Photography Contest with Olympus, and this has been an awesome contest for me to judge. One winner is getting an OMD EM5 Mk III and a 12-45mm f4 PRO lens. This contest was not easy to judge at first, but then the Editor in Chief inside of me really took over. With nearly 1,000 entries from talented photographers across the globe, you all took a low-risk gamble to win a big prize. And for those of you who are new to the site, I welcome you. I hope that you’ll stick around for the future.

How I Chose the Winner and Runners Up

We use the Gleam platform. And from all of our previous contests, we’ve listened to you folks about concerns, wants, and needs. This is the first contest we’ve done in a long time where we’ve allowed direct uploading to the platform. Most US based photo publications try to focus on just the US. But we’ve got a massive global audience that we care a whole lot about. So as the founder of this website, I’m not about to throw a large contingent of our readers under the bus. So, as always, this contest was international.

I’ve been wrongfully accused of giving preference to photographers from NYC and of often selecting scenes from NYC. As the previous sentence states, that’s wrong, and this contest about the Great Outdoors illustrates that perfectly. Even though I’m a born and bred New Yorker, this legally blind EIC has been all over the world in his travels. Would I live anywhere else? Maybe. I’d need a city that understands the photography/art world, has a strong base of journalistic publications, and that caters to my specific disability of being legally blind. My condition (Keratoconus) can’t be fixed with surgery. I see the world as a painting at a certain distance, but close up, I’ve got pretty solid eyesight. The countryside doesn’t work for me personally because of this. But that doesn’t mean that I avoid it altogether or that I don’t venture into the wild. I totally do, but I need binoculars, and I often do it with friends and colleagues. They’re my eyes, and I’m the ears of the group. That’s why this contest about the Great Outdoors was fantastic for me to judge. Between the uber sharp details, the artistic blurs, and the dreamy colors, some of the most famous paintings in the world are of the Great Outdoors. And so the images of living paintings that many of you so kindly submitted are fantastic additions to this contest.

So what the hell was I looking for? Well, sometimes, I like to do contests that are a bit vague. The Great Outdoors is a fantastic one–it can mean adventure, landscape, astrophotography, wildlife, etc. But the bottom line is that I wanted my jaw to drop. The editors at the Phoblographer receive pitches every week, and I’ll often say, “Meh.” I’m conditioned to have to do that. I have to figure out and present to our readers what will work and make you want to click on our site because God forbid a website tries to ethically get clicks and pay its staff at ethical rates in 2020. We’ve been accused of not always presenting our highest-end or most interesting images in our reviews. Quite frankly, no one else does either. That’s the nature of review work. You have to shoot the way that most other people do. My fullest potential is involved more with creating than capturing. However, both the winner and the runners up of the Great Outdoors contest showed us their one, single, fantastic shot that they took a chance at winning with. Some of you went ahead and asked your spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, roommates, partners, etc. to enter as well using the same IP address. Please know that when I saw that, I sighed each and every time, but thanks for the new email addresses! We really need them, and your staying on our list ensures that we can keep the site running, free for everyone, and paying the staff fair and ethical rates. We work incredibly hard to deliver a unique website, and you can see that simply in the coverage on our front page vs. that of so many others. From day one, I’ve believed that much in our mission to do this the right way.

Without further adieu, I hope that you not only enjoy the winner but also the runners up. I’m presenting the runners up first because I feel like they’re incredibly important. People asked in our last two contests for runners up, and here they are.

The Runners Up

Just an FYI: If you’re a runner up, I’m inviting you to be featured on our site in a short interview. Shoot me an email at chrisgampat(at)thephoblographer(dot)com and in the subject, state your name, and that you’re a runner up. And let’s show the world how wonderful you are.

This image by Laurentiu Iarosevici shows a pretty rare moment. How often do you see seagulls in a line like this? It’s a pretty impressive shot because of how precious the moment is.

This photo by Maclain Silvey is simply stunning and all-encompassing. You see the stars, the clouds, the sea, a bit of land, etc. It’s cosmic!

This photo of lightning from Matt Stanman is stunning. The use of black and white makes it all that much more powerful.

This photo from Nathan Brayshaw is the moment cinematographers dream of. The fog adds to it.

Karl Richter jr. did something I really like. I’m all for and in love with surreal images. And that’s what this is. I like the color, but if this were a black and white photo, it probably would have won.

This photo from Glenn Ross shows us a tree that looks like it’s trying to escape from the ground. Such a cool scene!

This photo from Gerrit Jordaan has so many layers to it, and I love layers! You see a person doing a very typical summer thing. And you get the reflections in the sky in the still waters. It’s a beautiful shot!

This photo from Elio Nudelman almost won. It’s a sand dune, and it looks a lot like a wave of water. Besides that, I’ve always loved black and white photos of the desert.

This image from Don Willett shows a guy working hard. I like the ruggedness in this photo. He’s bundled up and is wearing gloves to work (or do his hobby). Plus, look at the sky. It’s probably going to open up soon.

The stillness and symmetry in this photo by Carl Turpie is beautiful. It’s a great use of the space in the scene.

This photo from Andreas Gimpel is made strong partially by the edit. The framing from the clouds also dramatically helps!

This photo from Alison Grasso is probably the other person who uploaded an image from the same IP address. And it’s the epic scene that so many young men try to recreate. I’ve done it too, so I can relate to it a lot.

This photo from Sangeeth Govindan is a painterly image that looks like the sky is on fire!

This photo from Sara Glik had me staring at it for a long time. It almost looks infrared, but I don’t think it is.

This photo from Sierre Nicole S. Tapuik is an epic moment! That cloud is super ominous.

The scene above was shot by Stéphane de Rouville. It feels like a painting.

This photo from Sundari Srinivasan feels like a Renaissance Painting.

The lone creature in this photo from Usha Peddamatham says so much about conservation, the wilds, and the forest in and of itself. It’s beautiful.

The image above is from Yok Chaiwat SIRIYUENYONG. And it feels like a National Geographic photographer shot it.

The Winner is…

When judging this contest, I admit that I took a bit of inspiration from Wes, the Editor in Chief of Outdoor Photographer who we used to work with when Madavor Media represented us. His belief was that it wasn’t a landscape image or an outdoor photo if there’s something manmade or a person in the picture, and I’ve used that as part of my judgment. But at the same time, we’re The Phoblographer. So I often weigh that against my own emotions and intuition. With that said, here’s our winner.

Our winner is Donna Martinek. I wanted to be wowed. I wanted my jaw to drop. So when I saw this image, I had to do a doubletake. So I looked at it, and I said, “Holy sh*t.” How is this not a super wild image?

  • It’s a fish literally being eaten alive.
  • You see the fish’s head.
  • You see the fish’s eyes and the bird’s eyes.
  • The fish and the bird stand out against the background both in terms of color and depth of field. So it’s very effective.
  • It’s shot outdoors.
  • It shows how great the outdoors is because you can be rewarded with experiences like this.
  • The composition mostly lies around the center. And though we’re often taught to aim for the rule of thirds, I’m alright with this one being broken simply because the subject matter is so effective. The subject matter is first and foremost when it comes to importance.

Congrats Donna. Shoot me an email at chrisgampat(at)thephoblographer(dot)com, and I’ll get you set up with your new camera and lens. On behalf of The Phoblographer, DUMBO Media Co, and Olympus, we all wish you use it to keep shooting inspiring and jaw-dropping images like this.