Local photographer waits months for a winning shot

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Jackson photographer Steve Mattheis waited six weeks to even catch a glimpse of a great gray owl much less a chance to press the shutter on his Nikon D850. The wait was worth it and the shot was a picture perfect.

Mattheis said, “After a six-week drought, I finally spotted a Great Gray flying through the woods on a beautiful fall evening. I ran to catch up, and spent 80 minutes photographing it flying from perch to perch, hunting, and catching several rodents.”

One of the photos from that session in the woods was selected as Grand Prize winner in the 2018 Audubon Photography Awards.

“As I took this image, I knew I was seeing something special. The owl was fighting for balance on a thin branch, giving a very unusual, energetic, asymmetric posture as it stared directly into my lens,”Mattheis said.

It was a tough choice for the judges who included Kenn Kaufman (Bird-guide author, Audubon field editor), Melissa Groo (Professional photographer and 2015 Grand Prize winner), Steve Freligh (Co-publisher of Nature’s Best Photography), Allen Murabayashi (chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter), and Sabine Meyer (Audubon photography director).

More than 8,000 photos were entered in the ninth annual contest—almost 2,500 more than last year. Entries were received from all 50 states and 10 Canadian provinces.

We also had a first for the awards this year. Because our selection process is blind, judges realized only after casting their votes that a single photographer had swept an entire category: youth. You can see all three images from Liron Gertsman, our youth winner, below, as well as the adult winners and honorable mentions. Congratulations to all featured here, and thank you to each and every entrant for your dedication to birds.

Photos were judged on Technical quality, originality, and artistic merit.

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