From top: a camouflaged owl by Shari McCollough; two Great Blue Herons by Melissa Rowell; Kevin Ebi’s shot of a Bald eagle and a fox battling for possession of a rabbit (see how it all turned out here) and the Grand Prize Winner – a red-winged blackbird ‘blowing smoke rings’ by Katherine Swoboda, who explains:
I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the “smoke rings” that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapour.
Alien flora? Well that depends on where you’re from. To wit:
Found on the Canary Island of Tenerife in the Teide National Park, red tajinastes are flowering plants that grow to a height of up to 3 metres. Among the rocks of the volcanic terrain, tajinastes bloom in spring and early summer and then die after a week or so as their seeds mature. A species known as Echium wildpretii, the terrestrial life forms were individually lit by flashlight during the wide-angle exposures.
The dancing lights of the Aurora Australis captured in time-lapse by Martin Heck, who had to mount his cameras inside special housings so the wouldn’t seize up when nighttime air temperature dropped to -70°C.