ART IN NATURE WINNER: Waterfall
Photographer: Karen Garbee
Location: Milford Sound, South Island, New Zealand
Milford Sound is the most well known and accessible of the grand, glacier-carved fiords scattered along the southwestern edge of New Zealand's South Island. This narrow, 13.7-mile inlet off the Tasman Sea is one-half mile deep in some places and is hedged on both sides by rainforest-covered cliffs as high as 4,593 feet. Solid granite mountain peaks rising from the waters of Milford Sound send waterfalls cascading over sheer cliff faces to the sea below, softening the area with a fine, calming mist.
Native Maori legend tells how the fiords in Fiordland National Park were created by a mighty demigod who started carving them on the south coast; by the time he finally reached Milford Sound, his technique had been perfected. The park is a sacred place for the Maoris, who came into the area one thousand years ago in search of a green jade-like stone. They were the first to cast their eyes on the scenery that still dazzles tourists today.
"On a boat tour of Milford Sound, the captain steered us very close to the base of this waterfall. The texture of the water captured my attention and the light was just right for a photograph. The scene was enveloped in a stunning blue, from the ripples in the water to the interplay of light and color. When I examined the printed photo back at home, I noticed all the shapes within the mist. But just above center on the right side of the image, I could see the shadow of a man's face. Now I see the 'face of Neptune' each time I look at this image."
GRAND PRIZE WINNER: Lion
Photographer: Brian Hampton
Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a sprawling inland area that floods seasonally, forming a permanent source of water in the midst of arid habitats. This unique mosaic of islands and waterways supports one of the richest faunas in southern Africa. Lions have adapted to the wetlands and, as they travel through the constantly changing environment to stalk their prey, they are sometimes forced to swim or wade across rivers.
"In order to join other lions tracking a herd of buffalo, this lion needed to cross a treacherous crocodile-infested river. Hearing the call of the others in her pride, she began to head for the waterway. I had to reposition myself several times to try to anticipate where the lion might come through the river. I had the good fortune of having my 600mm lens trained on the lion's eye as she exploded into a run, splashing through the shallow river. My companions and I huddled motionless as the lion came right toward us-then passed by. We all breathed a sigh of relief as she hurried to rejoin the pride."