Many of us took to the trails with our cameras last year to find comfort and joy during a difficult time.
Washington Trails Association’s Northwest Exposure Photo Contest attracted 8,000 entries in 2020 in five categories, from which 16 winners were named. All of them capture the classic look of the Pacific Northwest.
We’d like to thank each and every photographer who took the time to enter the contest. We post your photography throughout the year on the WTA’s website, while providing the best possible resources for the hiking community. (We always give credit for the photos.) From mountains and forests, and waxwings to deer, you help show us how wonderful Washington’s backcountry trails can be. That’s no small feat! So thank you. We look forward to seeing your entries for this year’s contest.
Without further ado, here are the top photographs from the 2020 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest.
Grand prize: Yuriy Garnaev
Garnaev captured this photo of Tatoosh Ridge with Mount Rainier visible in the backdrop. In the fading evening light, he raced up the ridge to snap this photograph using two bracketed images to expose for the sky and landscape.
“I moved to this corner of the country a few years ago because I was really drawn to the stunning landscapes it has to offer,” he said. “All of the trails that we have here have allowed me to spend so many weekends exploring the incredible mountains, forests, and coast of the Pacific Northwest. I’m very grateful for them, and really admire all of the hard work people have put in to build and maintain them!”
First place, Trailscapes: Ginalisa Andree
This quick snap of Tank Lakes was taken on Andree’s phone, as she was heading back to her tent after waking up to catch the sunrise. It’s all the proof you should need that cellphones can take award-winning photos.
“After my cataract surgery eight years ago, I intend to see as many beautiful places as I can while my eye sight is still OK,” she said. “Trails give me a sense of affinity to Mother Nature, and it also allows me to forge a deeper connection with my inner self.”
First place, Flora and Fauna: Janet Bauer
With a 400 mm telephoto lens, Bauer nabbed a close-up of a Bohemian waxwing in its natural habitat. She watched and waited in the snow to get this shot. Waxwings eat almost exclusively fruit in the winter, relying on the berry-producing shrubs that grow in lowland woodlands.
“Luck prevailed, and I was able to closely watch and photograph waxwings as they flitted around the shrubs devouring frozen rose hips,” she said. “I stayed with them until the afternoon light was disappearing and my fingers were numb from the cold. On my way home, I marveled at how nature often delivers beautiful gifts when you least expect them.”
First place, Trail Family: Takahiro Shigemitsu
Shigemitsu is a member of Pass to Pass, a hiking group that raises awareness for Parkinson’s disease. In 2020, they transported their gear on the Pacific Coast Trail with the help of pack llamas. Every hiker in the group wore masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — even the llamas. Takahiro said the llamas are considered “trail family” for the Pass to Pass hikes.
“Trails, especially in the backcountry, bring out the ‘generosity and loving kindness’ side of me,” he said.
First place, Hikers in Action: John Duong
Here’s a rare one. Duong captured a photographer in action on an August hike up to Hidden Lake Lookout.
“I love that feeling when all these things that are typically out of your control come together to make a perfect moment,” he said. “In this instance, the clouds parted, the sun was setting above the Cascades, highlighting the layers of rugged mountains, and making Mount Baker glow in the distance. It’s in these moments where you want to capture that feeling so you can relive it one more time.”
First place, Instagram: Umesh Pandit
It doesn’t matter how old you are — there’s something special about spotting wildlife when you’re out in nature. By the expression on her face, you can tell that Pandit’s daughter was thrilled to see a deer at Olympic National Park.
“Olympic National Park is so beautiful to go out with family,” he said, “especially with kids so that we can see wild flowers, deer and some short hiking.
Washington Trails Association promotes hiking as a way to inspire a people to protect Washington’s natural places. Learn more at www.wta.org.