Seattle Times readers submitted hundreds of their images of the Pacific Northwest to our Reader’s Lens feature, and we chose 10 favorites.
As you mark the end of a momentous 2016 and the beginning of 2017, look beyond the headlines. Focus on precious moments close to home, frozen by a camera shutter: a glimpse of a chipmunk in search of a seed. A whale leaping for joy. Raindrops on a dahlia.
These “pause button” moments are the magic that photography brings to our lives, and over the past year Seattle Times readers submitted hundreds of such images to our Reader’s Lens feature.
At year’s end, we chose 10 favorites to be our Seattle Times Reader Photos of the Year — a grand-prize winner and nine honorable mention winners.
The photo world continues to evolve. Last year we honored a photo taken with a selfie stick. This year’s winners include a photo taken by a drone.
The grand prize — a $250 gift card to Glazer’s Camera — goes to Tim Nicol, of Republic, Ferry County, for his grin-bringing image (above) of a chipmunk inspecting a flowerpot. Honorable mention winners (below) each get a $25 Starbucks gift card.
Judging was by Angela Gottschalk, Seattle Times photo editor; photo specialists Katie G. Cotterill and Tyler Sipe; and Brian J. Cantwell, Seattle Times travel & outdoors editor.
Thanks to all who sent in so many images of places to see and things to do around the Northwest. Please keep sharing your recent photos from the region at seattletimes.com/submit-photos. Maybe you’ll be our winner next December.
— Brian J. Cantwell
What we like about the grand-prize photo
Sometimes less is more. This image contains just three physical elements. Combine the flowerpot, flowers and one curious chipmunk with beautiful, soft golden light, fall colors and a shallow depth of field and this moment really stands out. If the composition contained more subjects and the light weren’t so pleasant and even, this image would lose its simple visual appeal. A telephoto lens and shallow depth of field keep the attention focused on the chipmunk without any distraction from a busy background. Great timing by the photographer to capture this whimsical moment.
— Angela Gottschalk, Seattle Times photo editor
HONORABLE MENTION WINNERS: Northwest scenics
Judge’s comments by Katie G. Cotterill, Seattle Times photo staff
Photographer: Hai Nguyen, Renton
Photo taken: Oct. 23, 2016; Boardman, Ore.
Photographer’s description: “Boardman Tree Farm was a surreal place to…witness the vibrant golden colors at peak, and (the) symmetry of how these trees were planted was just too captivating. Knowing that this tree farm will soon be chopped and renovated into a cow farm, it was definitely worth the drive from Seattle. Nikon D800E with Nikon 70-200mm, f2.8.”
Judge’s comment: “I’ve heard about the beauty of this farm on the northern edge of Oregon with its astounding symmetry, and Hai Nguyen captured it wonderfully in this self-portrait. The leading lines are great, highlighting the pretty golden leaves. The pop of blue of Nguyen’s jacket against the yellows is really fun. Great lens choice to get some compression but wide enough to get a scope of the landscape.”
Photographer: Victor Tom, Redmond
Photo taken: Feb. 13, 2016; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, Seattle
Photographer’s description: “My wife and I were making our first visit to the Gates Foundation Visitor Center and we stepped outside to view the sculpture net, ‘Impatient Optimist,’ by Janet Echelman. As I was taking pictures, I noticed a jet entering the scene… It looked to me as if the plane were caught in a fishing net. Nikon D800E, Nikkor 85mm 1.8 lens.”
Judge’s comment: “I absolutely love this photo. The framing and timing are perfect. Great job by the photographer to see what was unfolding and to frame the photo in a compelling way. Documenting this piece of art is great, with its crazy lines, but having that jet in the frame adds context and brings this into the real world.”
Photographer: Dale Johnson, Seattle
Photo taken: March 19, 2016; University of Washington Quadrangle
Photographer’s description: “A different perspective of the Quad. I was trying out my new DJI Phantom 4 quadcopter with a built in camera. I wanted to capture the cherry blossoms in bloom…Saturday afternoon and full of people enjoying the day.”
Judge’s comment: “Each spring thousands flock to UW to see the cherry blossoms and capture the beauty. We received dozens of cherry-blossom photos this year and this is by far the most unusual angle I’ve ever seen. I love how the gorgeous old buildings frame the image. The lines of the Quad add a cool element as tiny ant people enjoy the puffs of cherry blossoms. Drones are becoming more popular by the day and this photo is evidence of why.”
HONORABLE MENTION WINNERS: Northwest flora and fauna
Photographer: David Neiwert, Seattle
Photo taken: May 11, off San Juan Island
Photographer’s description: “A humpback whale calf breaches in Haro Strait, on the western side of San Juan Island, with the Olympic Mountains in the background; taken from my kayak. I used a Nikon D300 with a Nikon 70-300 lens and stayed very close to shore.”
Judge’s comment: “Wow! An amazing moment to witness. Perfect timing. I love being able to see the spray coming off the whale and having the Olympic Mountains in the background.”
Photographer: Kevin Farrell, Olympia
Photo taken: July 2016, McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Alaska
Photographer’s description: “My 13-year-old daughter, Lindsey, and I were successful in obtaining access permits — through a lottery — to (the game sanctuary). World’s highest concentration of grizzly bears. Amazing!”
Judge’s comment: “A fantastic moment captured. Seeing the whole fish out of the water at the instant the grizzly catches it in its mouth is spot on. Getting in tight allows us to focus on that moment. ”
Photographer: Chris Picard, Seattle
Photo taken: Sept. 2, a Seattle garden
Photographer’s description: “Taken in the morning in a community garden … after some rain the night before. The dark background is from shadow behind the flower. I used a Nikon D7100 with an 18-140 MM lens.”
Judge’s comment: “Beautiful use of the rule of thirds to accentuate the gradient of color. The light is absolutely stunning in this frame, allowing the background to go black and create a super-clean image while making the water droplets pop and create more texture. The photographer got in tight and wasn’t afraid to exclude parts of the flower and that’s what makes this abstract and extremely pretty. I’d love to hang this on my wall.”
HONORABLE MENTION WINNERS: Northwest fun and adventure
Photographer: David Dana, Bellevue
Photo taken: June 19, 2016; Poo Poo Point, Issaquah
Photographer’s description: “This was my first visit to the popular launching point for paragliders and hang gliders. This hang glider was the only one in the air, skillfully riding the thermals. I was struck by the patterns of the wispy clouds behind him, and found this angle that reminds me of a surfer riding a cresting wave. Shot with a Nikon D90, zoom lens set to 140 mm.”
Judge’s comment: “I love the comparison to a surfer. What stands out about this photo is how clean it is — there isn’t a tree popping up to distract. And the clouds definitely make this frame. Going wider on the shot to show those wisps was a great choice.”
Photographer: Cole Critchlow, Woodway
Photo taken: Nov. 18, 2016; Brackett’s Landing North Park, Edmonds
Photographer’s description: “Tayden MacDonald and I were hanging out doing our favorite pastime. The picture was shot using a Canon 5D Mark III and a Pixelstick. No matter what side people wanted in this past election, we are all Americans at the end of the day and we should be proud.”
Judge’s comment: “This is a creative, well thought out and executed photograph. I love how the lights of the ferry peek through and are perfectly placed within the stripe. The added wave of the Pixelstick that creates the flag is a nice touch. Great job balancing a slow shutter with the light of the Pixelstick.”
Photographer: Delton W. Young, Bellevue
Photo taken: Dec. 30, 2015 (but published Jan. 10, 2016); Mount Rainier National Park
Photographer’s description: “The snowshoeing person is Barbara Waxman, about two miles up the Mazama Ridge route from Narada Falls. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark II at f/16, 1/100 second, with a 28 mm lens.”
Judge’s comment: “Wow! This is a gorgeous scene. The bright and clear blue sky is stunning against all the snow. I love the wide angle along with having the snowshoer in the photo to show the grand scale of the winter wonderland.”
For a look at all the weekly winners from 2016, peruse the gallery below.