Photographer earns his wings, while Canon claims yet another clean sweep


posted Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 1:34 PM EDT


It was bound to happen sooner or later... a photographer would capture and submit a photograph of the storied Blue Angels team of jet aircraft, one that would propel itself to the top spot in our photo contest. Photographer Gary Schacker is the one who finally made it happen, and in doing so takes the $300 top prize for our photography contest in March.

Oh, we've had images submitted of the Blue Angels before, some of which were duly awarded daily placements. And we've had images of aircraft win prizes as well - more on that down below. But this is the first time, at least in my 6 years as POTD Editor, that an image like this has taken our top honor.

Congratulations to Gary on a stellar image, one that truly rose above the rest this month. We are honored to display it for our readers here, along with two additional prize-winning images from Anita Ross and Alma Lucie Robitaille worthy of a spot on our podium as well.

First Prize • $300 gift certificate from Adorama

Stack of Angels by Gary Schacker • Canon EOS 77D

(Congratulations, Gary!)


Second Prize • $200 gift certificate from Adorama

Caught in the Act by Anita Ross • Canon 1DX Mark II

(A fantastic moment, Anita! Thanks for sharing it with us.)


Third Prize • $100 gift certificate from Adorama

Gwendolyn by Alma Lucie Robitaille • Canon EOS 7D

(A wonderful portrait, Alma. Thank you!)


Winning images of flight

We've seen many "flight-related" images that have won prize money in our Photo of the Day contest, but most of those have been of the avian variety. However, Steve Sampson won the $200 second prize in October 2016 with an alluring image of a bi-wing plane flying into clouds. And yet another $200 Second Prize was won by Jere Hock in September 2015 with a different shot of a bi-wing plane venturing into clouds.

Dolphins can't fly, but you wouldn't necessarily know that from this image by Karen Celella, which took home the $300 First Prize in December 2014. Balloons do fly, as did this image from Pat Abbott which won the $200 Second Prize in August of 2014, while this lovely image of a balloon over the Shenandoah Valley at sunrise won Mike DiRenzo the $100 Third Prize in June of 2014. Yet a third balloon image won Steven Shpall the First Prize honors in June of 2013 with this breathtaking image.

Flight Into Oblivion by Steve Sampson • Nikon D810

We've seen images of flying aircraft win prizes in our contest before, but not yet of the Blue Angels kind.

Sean Rooney won the First Prize in March 2014 with a cowboy literally flying off a bucking bronco, and you'd have to believe that this little boy photographed by Mitch Spence en route to a Second Prize win had to feel like he was flying.

Looking at the past 5 years in our contest, we see 180 images that have won prizes, for a total of $36,000 in Adorama prize cash through that period! Of these, fully 36 images have been of something in flight, or at least seemingly in flight. 24 were of the avian variety, accounting for 2/3rds of the total flight images winning prizes across 5 years. The three balloons and two bi-wing images mentioned above combined with various insects and other images to take the rest of the total.

And yet, we see no images of jet aircraft nor Blue Angels, making this the first of its kind in that time period!

Additional Honors from March

First runner-up • Elegance by Melissa Anderson • Canon 70D

Second runner-up • Nubble Lighthouse by Ron Grant • Canon 6D


Canon cleans house once again

I've taken plenty of heat for drawing attention to the gear used to photograph the prize-winning images in our contest, but we are a site primarily dedicated to camera gear, and at least a portion of you do seem as interested as we are in which models were used to capture these awesome shots! This is never intended to take anything away from the enormous skill and perseverance of the winning photographers. Their skill comes first, and their patience and perseverance come next, and yet the gear does matter or else every winning image would be from a smartphone. (And thanks to a few very good photographers like Edwin S. Loyola, some prize-winning images have indeed come from smartphones! But the point is that for all but static, well-lit subjects, the camera and lens gear is still also a major factor in the winning equation.)

Only once in my time as POTD Editor has one camera company been a part of all 5 honored images atop our monthly podium, and that was Canon in our contest results from June 2015. And now, they have done it again, as 5 different Canon bodies were involved in the 5 honored images from March. These included a 77D, a 1DX Mark II, a 7D, a 70D and a 6D. That's three APS-C bodies and two Full Frames for you scoring at home, and perhaps just as remarkable is the fact that a Canon camera has now accounted for fully 12 of the 15 spots thus far recognized in our contest in 2018! Again, the point is not to take anything at all away from the fine photographers who captured these winning images, but we did feel like making mention of this amazing gear stat simply because we're also gearheads, as that is quite a feat for one company. (Two Nikon bodies and one Olympus body comprise the other three atop the podium so far this year.)

Congratulations to Canon on an impressive run, and one that will be indeed difficult to catch.

March Winners' Gallery

Thanks to all photographers who enter our contest, and please keep the excellent submissions coming our way! Click any image above for a larger version and more information about the photograph.

[Editor's note: When voting for the monthly winners, the voting panel is only shown the printed images, and is not aware of the name of the photographers nor the camera models used for capture.]

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Almost There • Melissa Anderson

How to win:

For more about what our prize-winning photographers shoot with and why, straight from the source, please see this article. It's from a few years ago, but is still quite relevant today. And for those of you wanting to know more about our competition please visit this news story, which describes our contest and also offers some useful tips to help you succeed, and this story that warns you of the best ways to NOT succeed. To see the camera and exposure information for this month's winners, please click any image above, and to see winners from previous months, please visit our POTD winner's gallery.

[And if you're ready to enter now, just click here!]

• Thanks to Adorama for sponsoring our contest! •

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