This year’s annual EEB Photo Contest showed us that the best things come to those who wait. Yu Kai Tan, ecology and evolutionary biology Ph.D. student, took home first place with his image, “Ring of Fire”, featuring the Great American Annual Solar Eclipse. Created using precise timing, Tan was able to capture the moon as it sails through the night sky.

“This timed interval composite from Goblin Valley State Park captured that otherworldly magic in the moments surrounding annularity when you sit with your existential dread, the moon, the sun, and the expansive barren landscape,” said Tan. 

First Honorable Mention by Yu Kai Tan

Tan also received First Honorable Mention with his image featuring the Pacific Ocean and a sliver of the moon. “I clicked my shutter and rushed to explain to my PI why I had to be late for dinner. Planning for this shot took much foresight and understanding of natural cycles — befitting for the Austral Islands in French Polynesia, a place where dinner is still served fresh from the reef and the mountains,” said Tan. “Low tides are lowest during the new moon, clearing out of the coastal caves (makatea) to make this shot possible.” Tan prides himself in his technical shots, getting everything just right.

“Pursuing precise, non-negotiable timings of celestial events is a thrill and a refreshing contrast to the unpredictable and unwieldy biological matter that I deal with day to day,” said Tan. “I have wanted to photograph an eclipse time series and to see an arid desert since childhood, so it is rather a double dream come true." 

2nd Place: Ascendance ft. Dendropsophus bifurcus, Mera, Ecuador by Tristan Schramer

Tristan Schramer, ecology and evolutionary biology Ph.D., took home second place with his photo "Ascendance", featuring the Upper Amazon Treefrog (Dendropsophus bifurcus) located in Ecuadorian Amazon, Mera, Pastaza Province, Ecuador. With striking orange and yellow colors, this frog captivated our audiences. 

"As dusk fell upon us, a heavy mist rolled down the mountainside and shrouded the forested valley. We gathered our headlamps and camera gear, and set out into the darkness. The desolate stillness of that night might have elicited a grim aura, but the muffled sounds of isolated frog choruses gave it a mystical overtone, which we used as our guide,” said Schramer. “As we drew closer, the chorusing intensified and so did the pitter-patters on the forest floor—treefrogs of all kinds were descending upon an isolated pool. I photographed this individual as it arrived at the pool and began climbing into the adjacent vegetation to join the chorus." 

Schramer also took home second place Honorable Mention for his image of a Juvenile Rainforest Hognose Pitviper (Porthidium nasutum) located in Ecuadorian Chocó, San Lorenzo, Esmeraldas Province, Ecuador. 

3rd Place by Kyle Lough

Kyle Lough, project manager & research lab technician lead at the Herbarium, took home third place for his up-close image of a flower using ultraviolet light.

“Using only ultraviolet light in a dark room, this flower absorbs the incident radiation and re-emits it in the visible spectrum, producing a mystical glow originating from the subject itself,” said Lough. “The colors are not edited and appear this way with our unaided eye so long as the ambient light is low enough.”

3rd Honorable Mention: Alaskan Salad by John David Curlis

John David Curlis, ecology and evolutionary biology Ph.D. student, received third honorable mention for his image, “Alaskan Salad”. Alaskan Salad features an arctic ground squirrel enjoying some wildflowers in Denali National Park located in Alaska. 

“July is right in the middle of wildflower season in Alaska, and I was lucky enough to witness it in full force while hiking in Denali National Park this past summer. Not only are the flowers vibrant and gorgeous, but they make nutritious meals for a host of Alaskan mammals, including deer, moose, caribou, and bears,” said Curlis. “And it’s not just the big mammals, either; the incredibly cute Arctic ground squirrel pictured here also seemed to be enjoying the floral festivities.”