It was a tough choice deciding between first and second place. It's hard to beat Bill Houghton's image of the "Great Blue Heron" for it's strength as a moment combined with its simple, uncluttered background. On another day, his image might have been chosen as the first place winner.
But we went with Terry's "Late Afternoon Flight" because of its well-woven stitching of elements. It's simplicity belies the complexity we see. Images like this are more difficult to make than they appear. First, you have to have the right time of day to achieve that balance of light between earth and sky. Secondly, you have to be razor sharp with your focus and shutter speed. The fine details of the image are what makes it so delightful to study. Lastly, you need the right mix of elements to create strong composition that could become askew with small changes in the subject elements - such as the birds and spash of the waves.
"Choreography" is, quite simply, one of the most beautifiul scans we have seen in a while. The light is amazing and the composition exactly what was needed to snag third.
"Flying" is one of those moments we wish we could see more often. We see similar attempts at scenes like this entered in the contest but few that put it all together like Daniel Thomas did.
Terry's image from the same area as her first place win "Flying Over the Rapids" speaks for itself. It's beautiful light, good action, beautiful scan and wonderful composition. (For the record, we make no prejudice over two images from the same photographer on a similar theme. Images are judged on their own merit against all other entries.
Philip Baack made a delightfully lyrical image of leaves. We enjoyed his comments too. Nice job.