Nature can be a tricky model. Plan as much as you like, it might still be a no show... Such was the case for AJ Barse and his trip to Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. "The lights streaking by the reflective Picture Lake from the constant stream of cars whizzing by its winding road. Folks from Whatcom and Seattle were making the night sky pilgrimage to Artist Point atop Mount Baker to see the forecasted Northern Lights. It was packed up there, by far the busiest I have ever seen Artist Point in any season. Meanwhile, below at Picture Lake, hot coffee was on and my wife and I were the only ones around. We had the whole lake to ourselves all evening. I kept my eyes and lenses pointed to the sky in the hope to see and capture what was forecasted to be the Aurora Borealis.... that would never come to Mount Baker that night. But I was able to capture this shot, and to me, it captured the love to get out in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, even if it was just to see an empty star filled sky and the Aurora Borealis that never-was."
I believe that is called making lemonade out of lemons! Nice work AJ. We don't have a quarter for the lemonade, but we do have a America the Beautiful Pass! Enjoy!
Some of the facilities in the Share the Experience contest are super easy to visit, just down the street from major metropolitan centers... Then there is Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Not exactly around the corner from much but a bucket list destination for many, especially after seeing this shot from Gregory Teller. "I photographed a mother polar bear and her cub on a trip to Kaktovik, Alaska in the fall of 2013. I had learned that at that time of year, sows and their cubs wait for the arctic sea ice to expand closer to the Alaska shore before making the long swim north for the winter -- and that many cubs don't make it. This little cub looked strong, and the water in bays and lagoons along the coast was already freezing up, so I think it wasn't long after this photo that the pair made their journey. I used my Nikon D300 camera with a Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 prime lens to capture the moment. The morning started foggy, but quickly cleared, providing a beautiful range of blues, whites, and gold tones. I spent that entire day photographing the bears just outside Kaktovik, and came home from my trip with a new appreciation for the Arctic's vastness, challenging conditions, and compelling beauty."
Well, even if this photo doesn't make you want to catch the next flight to the Arctic, it is hard to argue with the content! Nice work Gregory, thanks for taking us somewhere not many have been! Your new America the Beautiful Pass can take you to a few more of those places!
A trip to the outdoors can be a bit of a gamble. Plan as much as you would like and you might still get a hiccup of a rainy day, or two, or in the case of Connie Rudd and her trip to Grand Mesa National Forest, four. "This photo was taken after 4 days of steady rain on the Grand Mesa National Forest in August of 2014. I had been camping at Little Bear Campground and the morning it stopped raining, I was up before dawn, scouting a sunrise location. I found it a Cobbett Lake, no more than two miles from the campground. The sun was breaking through the clouds and the fog was rising from the surface of the lake. It demanded I stop and record the beauty of the morning. I have been traveling to the top of the Gunnison River Watershed through out the basin and this is one of the more spectacular scenes I have encountered."
Photography is all about capturing that moment, it must make it a bit easier when the moment "demands" you stop and take the picture! Nice work Connie enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass.
"Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam..." If you have ever sung those lyrics, John Stephenson found a place for you, Yellowstone National Park. "The photograph was taken on a cool crisp September afternoon near Lamar Valley in northeastern Yellowstone National Park. It was shot was made using a Nikon DSLR and a 200mm lens. The bull bison in clearly in his prime and stood perfectly silhouetted against the partly cloudy blue fall sky."
We were very relieved to find out John was using a 200mm lens for this shot as the big guys tend to like their own space! Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass John!
From the midwest and the beautiful Michigan lakeshore, we head back east with Paul Rutherford to Maine and the beautiful seashore at Acadia National Park. "This photo was taken on the beach in Monument Cove in Acadia National Park during the early morning light. In order to get the beautiful orange light I had to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to get out before the sun rose above the horizon around 5:30 a.m. The smooth round rocks on the beach are actually very large and I had to hop from one to the next in order to get the shot. The long exposure of the shot lets you get an idea of the calmness on the beach with the waves sculpting the rocks. It was my first time in Acadia, but the coastal beauty of the extensive park is going to bring me back in the future, hopefully when the leaves start turning colors."
The early bird gets the shot... and the Pass in this case! Enjoy Paul
Pictured Rock National Lakeshore was the location of last years Grand Prize Winner and thanks to Gary Donaldson, it is still getting a lot of praise with Share the Experience! "The best way to experience the beautiful and unique features of Pictured Rock National Lakeshore is from the lake itself. I was taking numerous photos of the colorful cliffs from a boat when I noticed the bright yellow kayak moving towards this particularly striking background. I waited until the kayak was in "the right spot" and captured this image."
It appears as though a boat and a visit to Pictured Rock improves your chances dramatically! Great shot Gary, enhoy your America the Beautiful Pass.
Proving once again that the unplanned many times leads to the best memories, we give you Kate Marchio and her Glacier National Park weekly winner. "I was taking sunset photos at Many Glaciers Hotel which is famous for its view of the symmetrical pyramid shaped mountains touring over the glassy Swiftcurrent lake. I actually had reservations at a hotel an hour away, however I was so captivated by the beauty at Many Glaciers that I didn't want to leave and kept taking photos well into the night. Around 10pm I knew I wasn't going to leave and so I asked the resort if they had any available rooms, and just my luck they happened to have one room left and it had a spectacular view! I took this photo from the private balcony of my room, it's so amazing how amazing gifts like this happen when you are doing what you love."
We cannot guarantee this will work every time, so if you are planning a visit you might want to make a reservation! Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass Kate!
Shifting gears from the west and wildlife we have week 11's winner William Brinkman from Acadia National Park in "America's Vactionland" Maine. "This was a rare photo of my son sitting still. He is always on the go, but very much was hypnotized by the water. While I was setting up my tripod to take photos of the sunset, my wife and son happened to sit down in front of me, making for a quick and unplanned capture. As the waves would come in and crash against the rocks, he would cheer and shout 'Again!'. It was one of the highlights of our trip. He was sad to get in the car after the sunset had set, and the rest of the trip he kept wanting to go back and see the ocean. I guess that is a good excuse to go back!"
Sometimes the unplanned leads to the best memories! We agree that is a great excuse to go back as well as visit new places, the America the Beautiful Pass will help you do just that!
Kevin Dietrich is well liked in Lake Clark National Park, so much so that the wildlife there greet him with high fives and hand shakes! Ok, maybe not that, but it sure does look like they wave to him... "I have always had a vision of photographing grizzlies in the water. I always felt it was unattainable and it would jus the a bucket list item. I finally saved up some miles and money to get to Alaska and have an opportunity to see a grizzly bear. After a week of no sightings I decided to hire a float plane to drop me in a remote area where grizzly were more popular. After a few hours of searching with no results I thought I was going home with no bear images when we struck gold! A sow and two cubs were sleeping on the bank of a river. They soon began to search for food and entered the water. While watching her mother dive for salmon in the frigid glacier water of the Crescent River this young brown bear cub couldn’t contain her excitement and stood up on her rear legs and politely made a waving direction towards me. In a matter of one hour this young cub ate several salmon that were provided by her intelligent and fearless mother. Deep in the Alaskan wilderness this brown bear family provided my favorite image of the year."
Such a great story and needless to say a great photo. Hopefully your America the Beautiful Pass will encourage you to keep going on those adventures Kevin!
Birthdays are great because they not only are usually filled with presents and fun, they are generally days when you can do what you want. Mariusz Jeglinski wanted to do the 1000 Island Lake Loop in the Ansel Adams Wilderness so he did just that! "We were on a backpacking trip for my 35th birthday. I always wanted to do the 1000 Island Lake loop and that was a great occasion. We trekked for 4 days and 3 nights, and did almost 30 miles. It was one of my best trips so far, and one of the best birthday gifts too. That particular shot was taken with a help of a tripod (something I always hate to lug around when backpacking, but after I get home and see the pictures - I'm glad I did), on our way from Garnet Lake to Lake Ediza. We took our last good look at Mount Ritter and Banner Peak before we headed out. Ansel Adams Wilderness is one of the most beautiful and impressive parts of the Sierra Nevada range. We made few "our favorite" spots there and definitely will get back there."
Sounds like a prefect birthday to us! Here is a late birthday gift of a America the Beautiful Pass from us, to you! Enjoy!
You might have thought that flying fish could only be found in the ocean. Graham McGeorge proved that "flying fish" can also be found at Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park... "I recently traveled to Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska. I had the honor of photographing the Coastal Brown Bears fish for Sockeye Salmon on and around the falls. Meet momma; Brown Bear #402. She was standing on the edge of the falls waiting for a leaping salmon. Her yearling cub sat only 15 feet away on the bank of the river. Every few minutes she would turn to check on her cub, and a salmon would leap up the river behind her. This was a close call for the salmon that got away."
A lucky salmon and a lucky photographer to get the opportunity to visit such a cool place. Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass Graham.
Talk about vistas! Mountain goats, snowcapped peaks, it is all here in Catherine Means' photo of Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. "This picture was taken on a climb up Liberty Bell spire in the north cascades. On top you get a 360 degree view of the cascades, and on the way down you are greeted by a curious family of mountain goats. All in all, it makes for a great day in the beautiful outdoors!"
Great day and a great capture Catherine! Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass.
You can almost hear the waves crashing and the shore birds above when you take a look at Susan Kim's photo of Los Padres National Forest. Susan tells us- "My picture was taken at beautiful Pfieffer Beach. The minute I stepped onto the unique purple-hued sand, I knew I was in for a treat. The beach itself felt intimate and tucked away in a forest. Then I saw it - this uniquely beautiful rock in the ocean with what looked like a window in it! The beach was empty and windy. I enjoyed watching the sunset while the tide splashed through the hole in the huge rock. It was unforgettable!"
As with all of our Weekly Winners, Susan will get a America the Beautiful Pass, hopefully that will inspire discovering some new "unforgettable" places! Enjoy!
If I did not know better, I would think Mt. Rainer National Park was paying off the judges as they rack up their second weekly winner of 2014. Marlin Thorman told us a little about the sky high photo from the summit. "Shortly after sunrise the valleys remain shrouded in clouds, but the sun illuminates the mountain above as a climber ascends the steep snow at 10,500 feet. My climbing partner and I are on an ascent up Mount Rainier's Curtis Ridge which is a technical, seldom-climbed route on the north side of the mountain. The last two days were filled with clouds, snow, cold, and wind, but on summit day we were treated to this beautiful weather."
Thanks to Marlin, we all get treated to the beautiful weather that morning in this awesome photo! We hope you enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass and can summit some more peaks this year!
Arches has a huge draw with over a million people a year visiting the otherworldly rock formations and incredible vistas. Harold Fritsche tells us about his experience about catching both in one frame.-
"As is frequently the case, I was hanging around this area near sundown hoping for good light, but the low clouds obscured the sun. I was preparing to leave the park for the evening when suddenly the sun broke through and some of the most wonderful golden light I have ever seen shown forth. I spent the final 10 minutes before sunset photographing the Balance Rock groupings. After the sun set, I was again in process of putting my camera away and happened to turn around and saw the warm/purple sunset afterglow on the La Sal mountains. I quickly set my tripod back up and captured this shot. I wish I could say that I judiciously waited until the automobile with his headlights on came into the frame but that part, was just good fortune, though in my opinion, it makes the shot." Good fortune or not, we think this is a great shot! Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass Harold!
Sunrise shot are always crowd pleasers, especially in places like Ruby Mountain Wiliderness! Photographer Corbin McFarlane tells us-
"This is Overland Lake in the Ruby Mountains, Nevada. I took the picture on the third day of an eight day backpacking trip from one end of the mountain range to the other. There is still a little snow to be seen, but this day ended up being the hottest day of the year. I had a difficult time orienting the rising sun with my map. As a result of this photograph I learned that in the summer the sun rises as much as 30 degrees north of east!"
Always good to walk away with a little new knowledge as well as a great photo! Now Corbin can walk away with a America the Beautiful Pass, enjoy!
Week 2's winner is from Glacier National Park, a park that is on many people's "must visit" lists. Lorianne Simon made the trip and tells us-
"An early riser, I love to walk the area around Many Glacier Hotel before the rest of the world are rousted from their slumber. This morning, I was struck by the soft green mountains blending into the bright blue sky and the reflecting clouds on the water. The splash of red from the flag and the boats was the perfect contrast to the blue. I will always remember this morning. Truly grateful to experience the majesty of the Swiftcurrent Valley."
Well, we already knew the early bird gets the worm, turns out they get a winning shot as well! Thanks for sharing Lorianne and enjoy your pass!
The first weekly winner of the 2014 contest comes to us from Mt. Rainer National Park and Vaqas Malik. Vaqas said "This night shot was taken around midnight at Camp Shurman on an Emmons Glacier climb last summer. This was after the summit day and you could see the snow wall around the tent melting after being out in the sun all day. Though being tired after the summit push, the night was very pleasant with calm winds and I got motivated enought to get out and take some night shots." We are very happy you got motivated Vaqas! Enjoy your America the Beautiful Pass!
Due to the overwhelmingly strong response to the 2014 contest kick off and the amazing photos that have been coming in, we will be starting the Weekly Winners next week (5/26)! This is almost a month early! Thanks for all of your support and good luck.
Just a quick update that the language regarding sponsorship and administration of the contest in the rules was updated recently.
More than 17,600 accepted entries viewed by 133,174 unique visitors for a total of 1.7 million photo views. That is one way to summarize the 2013 Share the Experience Photo Contest. However, the numbers do not do it justice, the real story is in the photos themselves. Covering every federal land from Acadia to Zion, every scenario from family vacations to technical expeditions, the photos are the stars of this contest.
If the photos are the stars, then these are our All-Stars! The winners of the 2013 Share the Experience Photo Contest!
This year’s grand prize winner comes to us from a family outing and according to Courtney Kotewa; it almost didn’t happen as she was not sure she would take her phone with her on the kayak trip for fear of dropping it in the choppy lake. Lucky for Courtney, she decided to risk it and bring the phone to document the trip. Although she grew up in Michigan, this was Courtney’s first trip to Pictured Rocks and she described it as being on her mom’s “bucket list.” Both Courtney and her mom are always up for adventure in the outdoors as Courtney describes it best by “Nature grounds you where you can get your perspective on life back. That’s what it does for me.” We could not agree more! Congratulations Courtney!
This year was truly the year for the Midwest Lakeshores! Whereas Courtney Kotewa captured the summertime fun, Michael DeWitt enlightened us to the winter beauty that is out there as well. “In late December, a friend and I launched a canoe from the pack ice at Meyer’s Beach, gateway to the mainland sea caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We broke skim ice and dodged ice bergs out to the caves, and we were well rewarded for our efforts.” We were all rewarded with a beautiful shot and a glimpse into a park that not many venture into in the winter.
When Darrell Staggs’ photo was submitted, it took the Share the Experience team a moment or two to figure out exactly what we where looking at. Which side was up? Which size was down? What exactly where we looking at? Darrell sorted it all out, “This canyon housed a pool of water that was sheltered from any wind, making it a perfect mirror for the canyon walls lit by the late afternoon sun.” Perfect mirror indeed and something that is completely unique to that spot. Darrell summed it up best with “Not all spectacular shots are obvious.” We completely agree, but also think this shot is obviously spectacular.
Thanks again to all those who entered, we hope you enjoyed as much as we did!