For our inaugural contest that launched in February, there were two categories to enter: Photo of the Year and Photographer of the Year. The first one sought to find the most incredible, single photo taken from the prior year. And the second award looked to recognize the achievement of putting together an amazing set of 8-10 images all taken on different days in 2020.
We all know 2020 was a brutally hard year for everyone, and most people were stuck at home, quarantined and staying safe. It was definitely a more difficult time to get out and capture weather, but the submissions were mind-blowing nonetheless. The Photo of the Year category especially saw some absolutely insane captures, from close-range lightning bolts, stunning compositions and the raw power of tornadoes. And despite the below average spring storm season in the United States, some photographers were able to chase a bunch and put together some amazing and diverse portfolios.
The winners were announced on March 31st at 12pm Eastern Time. The image that took 1st place in the Photo of the Year category was captured near Ashby, Minnesota by U.S. storm chasers Scott Peake. An unbelievably slow moving and photogenic tornado, free of rain, gave photographers a rare opportunity to capture the twister up close and with rainbows and a variety of foregrounds. The winning photo showcased a tornado at the end of a rainbow that had a road running under it, an absolutely perfect composition. The 2nd place image was the most fine art photograph we saw, a beautiful composition by Michael Morgan of a lone tree, a grazing cow and a distant lightning bolt against a stormy sky. Danijel Palčić took 3rd place with a gorgeous sunset downburst of rain with two powerful lightning strikes hitting along the coast of Croatia.
Tim Baca won the Photographer of the Year award with a fantastic portfolio that had a variety of compositions with subtle editing and great foregrounds. Storm chasing and photographing on the fly can be difficult, but Tim managed to find gorgeous locations to place in front of some epic storms. Nenah Demunster was a very close 2nd place finish, with an unbelievably diverse portfolio and great storytelling images. Amy Howard took third with a strong set that featured rainbows, hail-covered roads and farm animals.
First place prizes included $750 in cash, a Davis Instrument VantageVue Weather Bundle and an Air Quality Sensor, 20×30 prints from MagnaChrome of their winning image and a Lightning Trigger IV from Stepping Stone Products. Second place each won $200 and third place took home $100.
The contest will return in early 2022 to judge photos from 2021, and perhaps in the fall may open up for past years, to do some retro contests for the past decade!
Congrats to all!