American Photography Open 2019: More Highlights From Our Judges

By David Schonauer   Monday May 13, 2019

Is it time for you to enter the American Photography 2019 Open competition?

Month two of the contest brought in hundreds of entries from around the world, and today we present three that got thumbs up from our judges — a smashing nighttime photo of a famous bridge in China, a shot of two bald eagles quarreling over a lunch, and a very juicy image of some fruit that will have you seeing orange.

Of course, these are not the only images from April that delighted the judges, and at this point we can’t say whether they will end up among the contest’s finalists. (The final deadline is August 31.) The competition is open to images made by photographers at any level using any kind of equipment, from DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to smartphones. Finalists will have their work spotlighted in a variety of online venues and at a photo industry event in New York City. They will also pick up some very nice prizes from our partners. (GO HERE FOR PRIZE DETAILS.)

The Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000, plus a Tamron SP 70-200 F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Canon or Nikon mount), value $1,299; a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD; a Skylum suite of software (including Luminar, Aurora HDR and Photolemur); a Fujifilm X-T3 camera; and a PhotoShelter 2-year Pro account.

We hope to be looking at your work soon!

“Anshun Bridge, China” by Randy Stephens

Born in Colorado and raised in Texas, Randy Stephen has always, he says, been “an outdoors person.” Stephens, who describes himself as being “somewhere between a professional and serious enthusiast,” recently retired from a career in conservation biology and was traveling through China when he shot this photo of the Anshun Bridge in Chengdu in Sichuan Province. The covered bridge, which crosses the Jin River, features a popular restaurant.

“During my trip to China, I made it a point to explore street photography, as opposed to hanging out at the hotel,” says Stephens. “After chasing light and subjects in the late evening, I was returning to the hotel and while crossing a smaller street bridge I turned to my left and saw this spectacular scene. I didn’t have a tripod and finally found a concrete pillar to rest my camera on and do a time-delay shot.”

Stephens shot the photo with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 28-300mm lens. “I found myself pulling out ‘MacGyverisms’ to stabilize the camera for this shot,” says Stephen. “I actually rested the end of the lens on my wallet to get the right angle.”

“Eagle Stand-Off,” by Sandi Little

Sandi Little’s photo of two bald eagles quarreling over a lunch stood out for the AP Open judges, and it was also shortlisted in the wildlife category of this year’s Sony World Photography Awards. A self-described serious amateur, Little made the photo in Sheffield Mills, Nova Scotia, where every year photographers come from all over the world to attend the annual Eagle Watch event. The big birds are enticed by free food — chickens from local hatcheries that have died during the night.

“The eagles have great patience, until the crows and the seagulls start to fly in,” says Little. “Then one or two eagles start to fly out from perches in trees to scare the other birds. More eagles follow, and a feeding frenzy ensues.”

Using a Pentax K-3 DSLR and a 150-500mm zoom lens, Little caught this moment as one eagle enjoying his food was interrupted by another. “He turned around, in full wing span, to protect his lunch, and I captured his look of ‘don't you dare,’” says Little. “I feel this photo shows wildlife at its barest bones. It was worth standing for hours in minus 10 degrees centigrade to capture this shot of wildlife's amazing beauty.”

“Orange” by Maren Caruso

What makes a memorable photo? Sometimes it’s content, sometimes it's character, and sometimes, as in the case of Maren Caruso’s photo of an orange, it’s color. Caruso, a professional photographer based in San Francisco,  Los Angeles and New York, was doing a test with food stylist Alicia Deal when she made the photo in her San Francisco studio.

“We wanted to photograph a citrus fruit attached to leaves, and Alicia happened to have one in her garden and brought it to the studio,”  says Caruso. “At first we wanted to just throw water at it and make it look refreshing. Alicia suggested cutting it open, and we propped up the two halves and splashed water on them and composited two captures together to make this shot.”

Caruso photographed the orange with a Canon Mark 5DS. “We were always trying to get deep focus, so we bumped up the ISO to 400 to keep the packs at fast flash duration,” she says.


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