Our Favorite Reader Photos from the "Extreme Outdoor Photography" Assignment


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Peter Gassner shot this incredible image of a lightning strike with a double rainbow (and a dose of thunder) during an afternoon monsoon storm in his backyard in Sedona, Arizona.
© Peter Gassner

We love outdoor photography but we like it even better when there’s some element of the “extreme” involved. Yes, extreme is tough to define but for this assignment we were looking for images of dizzying mountaintops shot from harrowing angles, exploding volcanoes, dangling ice climbers, kayakers barreling through rapids, or stunning displays of weather. We didn’t get all of those things but we did get some amazing images from Shutterbug readers. Check out our favorite 10 outdoor images that made us see the awesomeness and danger of nature in the extreme.

Dark Night Sky
“The clear dark night sky out in Death Valley, California, is very special,” Mark Lohde writes. “Bearing the 115-degree heat during the day and enjoying the 65 degrees at night is part of the fun of the desert, just to get the shot.”
© Mark Lohde

Northern Lights Over The Mighty Mac
Morgan Somers captured this transcendent image of the Aurora Borealis over the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan with a Nikon D600, a Sigma lens, and Vu filters.
© Morgan Somers

Storm Unwinds
“A passing thunderstorm slides by my town,” Patrick Emerson says about this shot. “The storm is coiled like a stack of records.” He captured it with a Canon EOS 6D digital SLR and a 16-35mm f/4 lens at 16mm.
© Patrick Emerson

Giant Wave Defiance
“A few years ago, a giant WNW swell rolled into Kona, Hawaii, and residents and visitors flocked to the shore to witness the power,” Jock Goodman explains about this image. “While this may look foolish, the subject is actually several feet above the ocean level and most of the wave energy is spent crashing into the lava shelf and directed upward. To me his stance shows his defiance and confidence.” He shot it hand-held with a Nikon D200 at 50mm, f/10, 1/1000 second.
© Jock Goodman

Douglas Croft captured this fierce shot of an elephant with a Nikon D7200 and a Nikkor 80-400mm lens at ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/2000 second. “He’d just come crashing though the river, ears flared, trumpeting and shaking his head,” Croft says about the photo. “Now he was on the sand and still charging toward us. What ultimately turned out to be a bluff, was a bit unnerving at the outset.”
© Douglas Croft

Theresa Rose Ditson shot this striking image during a wild nighttime storm at Watson Lake in Prescott, Arizona. “The lightning was occurring in multiple directions and created an almost strobe-light effect,” Ditson says. “This, despite its own brightness, actually made it harder for me to see anything to focus or compose this shot, as my eyes did not have the chance to accommodate to either extreme of light or darkness. Needless to say, I had to ‘bolt’ myself out of there shortly after this shot!” She captured it with a Nikon D810 and a Nikkor 14-24mm lens at 19mm, f/7.1. It’s a 20-second exposure at ISO 100.
© Theresa Rose

Stairway To The Unknown
Jerry Benner captured this photo with a Nikon D40X that had been specially altered to capture infrared images. He shot it with an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II lens at f/9, 1/100 second at 18mm.
© Jerry Benner

Superstition Storm
“The Superstition Mountains in Arizona are an ominous site, add a monsoon storm and they are to be feared,” Gerry Groeber writes about this dangerously beautiful shot.
© Gerry Groeber

Andy Lerner captured this intense photo of a lioness having a meal after helping to take down a buffalo with a Nikon D4 and a 400mm f/2.8 lens at f/16, 1/200 second, ISO 320. He also used a Gitzo monopod with a Jobu gimbal head.
© Andy Lerner

Picture This! – Our Next Assignment
Travel Photography

Travel photography is a very popular subject for Shutterbug readers, so expect this assignment to be highly competitive. What makes a great travel photo? Many things, of course, but we’ve found that the best images always tell some sort of story. Don’t simply post a pretty picture. Beautiful photos are all well and good but they’re a dime a dozen these days. To set your travel photos apart, include some interesting elements in the frame that give a sense of place or context. We want to imagine we’re standing right there beside you, whether you’re taking a photo on a dusty street in Marrakesh, or turning your camera toward a vast plain in Montana.

San Juan Street Scene
I was photographing a model in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, when I came across this painter having a chat on his cell phone. As this gorgeous girl struck pose after pose in front of the painter and the colorful buildings behind, the painter didn’t look up once, creating a fun juxtaposition on what was, otherwise, a straightforward travel shoot. I captured the image in 2007 with an Olympus E-3 DSLR and a Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8 lens at f/8, 29mm, f/8, ISO 100, 1/320 second.
© Dan Havlik

How To Submit Online
1. Go to www.shutterbug.com and register. Scroll down the page and on the right side you will see a box for entering your username and your password. If you have already registered and/or submitted images for the Galleries you can skip this step. Respond to the activation e-mail. Registration is free. You will use your username and password whenever you visit or, with some systems, it will automatically load for you when you visit www.shutterbug.com.

2. Check the assignment and closing dates in the magazine. When the magazine is printed we will create an appropriate gallery for your images. The limit is two images per assignment.

3. Select and prepare your images. We only accept files at a maximum 5MB size, JPEG format. Save the JPEG at a quality level of 10 or higher. Note that file size in your image folder directory will determine upload size, not the “opened” file size, as JPEG compresses at 1:4 at higher quality ratings. If your images do not load it probably means you have exceeded the file size or have not used JPEG format.

4. Click on the Galleries tab on the homepage. In the Category section use the drop-down menu to select the Picture This! assignment. Note that images are simultaneously loaded into the assignment category as well as your own personal gallery. When the Picture This! assignment deadline date has lapsed the assignment gallery will be removed, but your images will still reside in your own gallery.

5. In the Description box add title, camera, lens, exposure information, and your full name. Also add any other comments or anecdotes you think relevant. We reserve the right to edit comments as needed.

6. Click the Save button at the bottom of the page. This uploads the image.

7. You retain copyright on the image.

8. We will choose the images after close of the due date.

9. Please feel free to comment on images submitted by other readers.

Please Note: If the photograph includes a minor or a recognizable individual or group you are guaranteeing that you have a signed model release form, and especially a parental or guardian release form for minors. You should keep a copy of that release in your files. Scan that release and keep it handy. If an image is chosen for publication, failure to provide a form when requested will eliminate the image from consideration. You can find release forms at http://asmp.org/tutorials/model-release-minor-child.html and other resources on the Internet. By uploading images you attest that the model release form is valid, that any depiction of a person is with their consent, that you have a model release form available on request, and that all images you submit have been made by you.

Deadline for submission: February 1, 2016.
Images will appear in our May 2016 issue.

Our next topic: Fine Art Photography
Deadline: March 1, 2016
Publication Date: June 2016

Please Note: By submitting you agree to give us the right to show the image(s) on the web and for publication. You give us publication rights in the magazine and on the website(s) of TEN: The Enthusiast Network, LLC.

Want to see images selected for past picture this! Assignments? Go to www.shutterbug.com and click on picture this! In the “more articles…” box on the homepage.

If you have any questions or problems e-mail us at editorial@shutterbug.com with Picture This! in the subject line.