I had the good fortune to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and actually stumbled upon the “Nature’s Best” exhibit by mistake.  This photo exhibit features the 2011 winners of the Windland Smith Rice International Awards.  The exhibit features many different photographers from different regions of the world all with pictures from different specific categories relating to the over-arching theme of nature.  Since these images are based in nature every picture shows a different detail or design of the beautiful world that we inhabit.

While I was studying some of these incredible photographs what stood out to me most was the color and texture that these photos exhibited.  No matter what the image was specifically of, whether it be animals, foliage, or elements the colors were so rich and the texture so sharp that you could imagine exactly how it would feel in person.  The colors were so radiant and really exhibited the diverse colors that all of nature has to offer. The most impressive thing to me was the use of movement in many of the photos of actual plants.  You could so easily tell and feel the water dripping off of leaves even in a completely still photograph just by the way the light hit the drop of water and the trail already behind the droplet.  In all photos of animals in the exhibit (save for one or two) their face or body was almost directly in the center of the shot creating an immense sense of equilibrium from the photographs.  You easily saw the entire photograph and weren’t distracted by background commotion; the subjects were prominent and clear.  I didn’t have a specific favorite photo but I did like the pictures of the animals the best.  I think it is incredibly impressive how much emotion the pictures of animals can represent without a model than can actually be directed.

The theme of the exhibit is obvious, it is depicted in its name.  When I decided to go to the exhibit I thought I knew exactly was kind of pictures I would see.  However, I walked away stunned at how skillfully these nature photographs were taken and how much time and effort was put into each shot.  I was especially moved by reading some of the captions that put a piece of the artist into the shot and told you a little about what they felt about the photograph.

These photographers utilized many of Kodak’s Top Ten Tips.  I noticed specifically the one that was used most often was to use a plain, simple background.  Especially in the animal photos, using a plain background really made the subject stand out.  Or placing a flower in front of a sea of green leaves that created almost a green backdrop helped you to hone in on what exactly the photographer wanted you to see. The images were all so outstanding and all so different even though they were in the same category that I was left truly inspired when I left.  The ways in which a single leaf can be photographed to look completely different is awesome.  For these photographers their mission was to capture the best nature image they could and I think, without a doubt, each and every one of them did just that.

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