An artistic side of science was captured through the unique lenses of students, faculty, postdocs and staff for the eighth annual EEB Photographer at Large contest. Their creative perspective brings the natural world into sharp focus with an array of over 50 breathtaking moments captured for all to see. Via the photo contest, you will travel from Ann Arbor to Alaska, around the globe to Australia and points in-between. 60 people voted for their favorite five images.
Jason Dobkowski’s sleepy fox, “Billy the Kit” captured enough hearts to win first place. Dobkowski, a research lab technician with Professor George Kling is thereby named Honorary Photographer at Large for 2015 – 2016. One day, a little fox was spotted with the adult fox the researchers had seen for a couple of weeks around Toolik Field Station in North Slope, Alaska, Dobkowski reported.
“Foxes in general never seem too afraid of people, and this little kit was especially comfortable around the researchers in our camp,” Dobkowski said. He was even seen sleeping under people's raised tents. On his way to breakfast one morning, Dobkowski spotted the fox kit, went back for his camera, and when he returned, the kit had curled up in a sunny spot to sleep. “It was a perfect chance for a close-up shot,” he said. Wake up, little fox – you won!
Professor Stephen Smith’s in-flight portrait of a ruby-throated hummingbird, “Hover with a purpose,” taken in Cincinnati, Ohio, placed second. “While visiting family in Ohio, I was outside hanging out with some hummingbirds, taking pictures,” he said. “I was sitting on a porch and pointing my camera at the same spot where the hummingbirds were flying for probably an hour.” He said it was relaxing and fun. With wing beats up to 80 times per second, Smith said that his shutter speed was 1/4000, which means the shutter was open for 1/4000th of a second!
Joseph Brown’s enigmatic image, “Snow shadow,” taken on Ford Lake, Ypsilanti came in third place. Brown, a postdoctoral fellow in Smith’s lab, was birding at Ford Lake. “Everything was covered in snow, when an uncommonly hot sun popped out from behind some clouds,” he recalled. “The snow in the shadows was shielded from the sun, and left this neat pattern on the bridge,” he said. (Image below)
The following images were in close contention, capturing honorable mention status.
Pascal Title’s mysterious “Moon and clouds,” was taken in Western Australia “on one of our last nights out camping on the Murchison River as we drove from our field site to the airport at Kalgoorlie,” Title, a graduate student, said. Their vehicle, backlit by lights put up for setting up camp and cooking, is visible, lending an otherworldly aspect to the image.
Graduate student Michael Grundler’s majestic black and white “Davidson,” was shot near Haines, Alaska, where he was vacationing. “The Davidson glacier was originally a tidewater glacier when John Muir visited it in the late 1800s, but now sits about a mile inland due to the rapid glacial rebound that characterizes that region,” Grundler said. It is located on the Chilkat Inlet.
Grundler had another honorable mention with the stunning “Crotaphytus,” in Rodeo, New Mexico. “The photo of the lizard was taken this summer during fieldwork in the transition region between Chihuahuan and Sonoran desert,” Grundler said. “It is an adult male Crotaphytus collaris in brilliant breeding coloration. Males of this species maintain territories that typically consist of small to large boulders. The colors carry a cost, though, by making them more visible to predators. We saw this male nearly captured and eaten by a roadrunner a few days before this photo was taken.”
In addition to second place, Smith captured honorable mention with “Race,” a humorous image shot at the Ann Arbor Airport in September. “I was hoping to see some swallows that typically dart around at sunset by the fields,” Smith remembered. “The swallows had already left but there were still some planes. So, trying to make the most of a failed swallow outing, I took pictures of the planes taking off. I got really lucky when some geese decided to migrate in the same direction as the plane.” He credits this photograph to persistence and luck. For a comparison of shutter speed to his hummingbird stop-motion image, Smith used 1/400 for the airplane and geese.
Johanna Nifosi’s “Life is beautiful,” was taken at Bog Cowell, Brighton, Michigan. Nifosi and the other graduate student instructors for ecology lab were walking through a bog and fen, learning about the organisms and ecosystems. She noticed the colorful peat moss Sphagnum and other bryophytes and started paying closer attention to the ground.
“And then suddenly, I found a happy fungi sticking out of the moss. When I got very close to appreciate the details, I found that the whole little hidden scene was too lovely to not document.” She thought that “Mr. Happy Mushroom” was having a tea party with the flowers of the forest. “I can almost hear them laughing and singing. This moment of my trip delighted me, and made me feel thankful of the beauty of life.”
And now, sit back and view the world through an EEB lens.