Check out the winning images from the 2017 photo contest.
If you ask hikers what made them want to hike a specific trail, many will name a photo as their inspiration. Beautiful landscapes, whether captured on a cell phone camera or a DSLR, are what motivate many hikers to lace up their boots and explore new trails.
Every year, we ask you to share your photos with us in our
Northwest Exposure Photo Contest. We enjoyed looking at the more than 5,000 photos—from mountain peaks to urban trails and everything in between—entered in the contest this year. (And with that many photos, we had a tough time narrowing it down to 16 winners.)
But the contest is more than just a way to win prizes and show off incredible photos of landscapes and the people who love to explore them. It's how we, as a nonprofit organization, make our website, social media and other materials more colorful and informative. The photos entered in the contest help us tell the story of Washington's trails and the hikers who enjoy them. Without your photographs, our website and other publications would look a lot different, so we thank everyone who entered the contest this year!
Without further ado, here are the winners from the 2017 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest:
Grand Prize - Matt Meisenheimer
Taken at Panther Creek Falls, Matt captured this grand prize winning shot after a couple hours of waiting for good lighting conditions. We'd say the wait was worth it. Matt was able to photograph this moment using his tripod and shooting with a 14mm lens at f/16, ISO 100. He used a polarizer to reduce highlights in the sky while retaining the detail of the falls and shadows. "Trails are a path to a different world for me. Somewhere beautiful and peaceful, with no distractions. They are my escape to nature and solitude."
1st Place, Trailscapes - Kripa Chettiar
Rialto Beach is one of Washington's classic coastal hikes that usually (unless it's fogged in) provides incredible views of the ocean and the rocky sea stacks that dot the shore. That was certainly the case for Kripa, who captured this vibrant sunset to secure the 1st place prize in the Trailscapes category. "
Trails take you one step to closer to being one with the nature. Trails are wormholes connecting a parking lot to a landscape of endless possibility." 2nd Place, Trailscapes - Emily Fleury
Washington has it all, from miles of rocky coast to deserts and incredible rock formations. Ancient Lakes is no exception, and is a popular Central Washington destination for hikers to see how the land has been shaped over time, exposing massive rock walls and canyons. Emily took advantage of the dramatic sky and took 2nd place in the Trailscapes category with this photo. "I love to be out there, to ignite a sense of wonder, to feel invigorated, to embrace solitude, to know awe, and to explore. Trails can provide all of this and more." 3rd Place, Trailscapes - Philip Wilkinson
While Washington has an abundance of rugged mountain trails, it also has an array of incredible trails closer to urban areas, like the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Area. Trails like this provide amazing natural experiences closer to home, and also offer ways for kids and those in wheelchairs to experience wild spaces and the flora and fauna that thrive in them. Philip took home the 3rd place Trailscapes prize with this shot of the boardwalk extending out over the refuge's waters. Using a tripod and a longer exposure, he was able to get this unique photo. "Trails lead me to places that bring me the most joy, being in nature, great exercise and opportunities for landscape photography."
1st Place, Flora and Fauna - Daniel Patterson
There's a bit of a legend around the tree at Kalaloch, with many hikers and beach-goers wondering when it will finally fall from its perch. But so far it's managed to cling on, with roots extended wide to grapple on to whatever soil it can. Daniel came across this scene in the morning and he couldn't resist the opportunity to photograph the tree with brilliant backlighting coming through the fog. "Trails provide so many different things—adventure, solitude, perspective, serenity, a connection to nature, bonding experiences with friends and family and guidance to safely explore the most beautiful places in our state."
2nd Place, Flora and Fauna - Kim Weissenfels
Bobcats are a rare sight for hikers. They're elusive, and tend to stick to denser woods and areas where humans aren't present. What's even rarer is to capture a scene like this bobcat hunting for a meal. While traveling through Olympic National Park, Kim was lucky to spot this scene as a bobcat perched near a waterfall, waiting for an unsuspecting salmon to get too close. As a photographer, you never know when an incredible scene will unfold in front of you. "Trails are important to me because they provide an opportunity to escape the stress of work, traffic, bills and obligations and feel a sense of peace and wonder that restores mind and body."
3rd Place, Flora and Fauna - Brian Smith
In a category competing with cute, furry animals, it can sometimes be hard to pull off a win while showcasing the natural beauty that surrounds us on hikes. Brian did just that though with this 3rd place winning photo. Brian stumbled upon this crop of ferns In Olympic National Park as the light poured down through the trees, illuminating the vegetation below the giant evergreens.
" Trails are important because they lead to unseen beauty and a natural appreciation for our surroundings. Trails are the network that allow us to get out and enjoy what Washington really has to offer for outdoor adventures. They lead to new places and a sense of peace. I don't know what I would do without them." 1st Place, Trail Family - Lauren Dawkins
"Little brothers make some of the best hiking pals," Lauren wrote on her winning photo entry. In this shot, Lauren and her brother, Kyle, had been hiking at Moulton Falls along the Lewis River. The two stopped near their destination and Kyle took out his compass and map to get their bearings and practice orienteering skills. While map apps are convenient, learning good old fashioned map and compass skills never hurts! "I love the unknown, adventure and making memories with the people who are important to me. For myself and many others, trails represent all of these things."
2nd Place, Trail Family - Grant Roush and Allison Williams
It's not every day you get to see a dog in goggles, so it's no wonder that this caught the contest judges' eye. Grant and his friend Ali celebrated reaching the summit with a mountaintop portrait featuring Grant and Omak, Ali's dog. We'd say they pulled it off in style. Who knows, maybe the next big hiking trend will be matching goggles and doggles! "
Trails offer the physical exertion and mental stimulation I need to calm my often restless mind. For Omak, it’s a chance to smell everything, pee on many things and be with his favorite humans!" 3rd Place, Trail Family - shon’t savage
"He only grows up once," shon't said in her photo entry. And with that in mind, she and her son Sam, whom she calls "Dude", enjoy spending time together outdoors and on trails. The hike in the snow around Gold Creek Pond had been a last-minute decision to get out of the house. While Dude is at an age where hiking is sometimes a compromise, they both had a great time postholing in the snow and taking in the winter sun. They captured this moment on the way back to the car, and it perfectly encapsulates the feeling in the Trail Family category.
"Trails are the gateway to nature's den, the railroad to spiritual awareness, the connector between the divide of woman vs. the wild. Put simply, trails are my church and hiking my meditation/prayer."
1st Place, Camp Life - Andrea Laughery
Camping in the Hoh Rain Forest can provide some unique challenges (like staying dry), but Andrea's husband, Justin, and her daughter, Ellinor, were more than up for it. This photo was taken as they prepared a warm breakfast before heading out for a short hike in Olympic National Park. " I was raised outdoors, spending my childhood in the backcountry, following my dad's long legs into the mountains. I stood on my first real summit when I was 7 years old. The trails are the lifeblood of all my memories. To be amongst the wisdom of the trees, to smell the air laced with lupine and river water, to scramble dusty rock ledges and reach high peaks feels akin to my life's journey. Hiking empowers me. It gives me courage. It makes me brave. It challenges me. It reminds me that physical pain is nothing compared to the emotions of our heart. The trails constantly remind me what gratitude means and how fortunate I am to be alive and have a strong body that moves." 2nd Place, Camp Life - Sean Wang
Using a long exposure, Sean captured this unique shot while backpacking with his wife, Tricia, at Spider Meadow. While playing with the camera at camp, Sean came up with the concept of "becoming fireflies," and this photograph was the result. His original subject for photographs at camp was the moon, but his creativity in utilizing their headlamps is what sealed the deal on his 2nd place win. "This was probably our favorite discovery this summer. It's a beautiful hike with enough distance to create a lot free space between hikers. It felt very open and natural. We plan to go back again next spring." 3rd Place, Camp Life - Aki Nguyen
Aki and her boyfriend, Teddy, decided to take a backpacking trip with their newly adopted dog, Indie. Aki says she was inspired to take this photo after a warm night at Quincy Lakes on their dog's first backpacking trip. "I love how this picture shows the bond between Indie and Teddy", she said. Indie is always up for an adventure, and this photo captured the first of many fun hikes to come with her new family. "Trails are good for the soul! It’s a form of outlet and escape from the everyday life. I look at the tall peaks and falling leaves and it brings me immediate peace and solitude." 1st Place, Hikers in Action - Sofia Jaramillo
Mount Adams is a great place to get started with mountaineering, or at least get a feel of what it's like to climb a volcano. Lunch Counter, a popular camping spot on the mountainside before reaching the summit, was the stopping point for Sofia when she captured this shot of Ryley as he ran along the rocks. When this photo was taken, Washington was under assault from wildfires, giving the backdrop both a beautiful color gradient, and a solemn reminder of what fires are capable of. "Trails are my church. They are a sacred space to reset emotions, ponder life, celebrate with others and be grateful."
2nd Place, Hikers in Action - Craig Peterson
Craig took a unique approach to represent action in the Hikers in Action category to get his 2nd place win. Using a series of stacked images, he showed his wife, Maura, and friend,
McGuire crossing a broken bridge on the Pacific Crest Trail on day two of a six day backpacking trip. He'd been experimenting with images like this on other trips, and used about 15 photos of each hiker to create the effect seen here. "Trails are important to me because they enable the exploration of the most beautiful and inspiring places on Earth. Also, the swimming in alpine lakes, devouring delicious huckleberries and gulping fresh glacier water." 3rd Place, Hikers in Action - Tiffany Hansen
There are a few ways to uniquely capture motion in a photograph. One of them is to set the camera up on a tripod and leave the shutter open for an extended period of time to give the subject motion. Or, you can set your camera on a rock instead of a tripod and achieve the same result, which is what Tiffany did. Allowing the flashlight to both "paint" the subject and the trail gives the image both motion and context, and the city lights seen from Badger Mountain provide the backdrop to a great 3rd place photo. "Trails are important to me for so many reasons. I believe that in this fast-paced world it's essential to have a way to reconnect and experience nature, and trails do exactly that."Thank you to the contest sponsors for providing prizes for the winners and supporting our work. The 2018 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest will kick off on August 17. We hope to see your photos then!