Natural Selection Photography by Mark J. Thomas

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"Nature's Best" Windland Smith Rice International Awards

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I have the great honor of being selected as a category winner in the annual "Nature's Best Photography" Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition. This is a nature photography competition open to all photographers worldwide. This year's competition saw over 24,000 images from over 1200 photographers representing 50 countries. It is truly a great honor to be selected as a category winner (Small World Category) with the hummingbird image seen in the magazine mockup below. This image and the story behind it appear in the Fall/Winter issue of Nature's Best Photography magazine. This image also hung in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington D. C. through April 2015.
Below is the text from the magazine page layout above.

Booted Racket-tail Hummingbirds
Western Andes Mountains, Ecuador
By Mark J. Thomas
Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA


THE STORY: “While attempting to
photograph hummingbirds for the first
time, I quickly realized that if I saw the
picture in the viewfinder before tripping
the shutter, I was too late. Capturing
their interactions meant learning their
behaviors first and then anticipating
what would happen next. The bird on
the right was particularly intolerant of
any other racket-tails in his territory.
I noticed the ‘troublemaker’ perched in
a nearby tree. When a second male
came to feed, the troublemaker immediately
flew from his branch to chase him.
He had done this many times before
and I always missed the shot. This time
I decided to shoot well before he reached
his intended target. As he flew into view
from the right, still a good four feet
from his rival, I decided to trip the
shutter. By the time the camera shutter
actually tripped, the two birds had
come together…exactly where I was
focused on the red banana flower.
No more than a second had passed from
the time I first decided to shoot until
the two birds were out of sight.”

CAMERA: Canon EOS 7D; 100mm-400mm IS lens at
180mm; 1/200 sec at ƒ/18; ISO 125; electronic cable
release; Vivitar 285HV strobes (5) at 1/16th power; flash
triggered by CowboyStudio radio transmitter in hot shoe;
Bogen 3035 tripod; pan/tilt head;


“If an image I have taken helps to awaken an appreciation of nature

in someone else, then I have been given the ultimate compliment.”

Nature has been my passion as far back as

I can remember. As a child growing up in South

Florida, I spent a great deal of time outdoors

exploring the Everglades or SCUBA diving in

the Florida Keys. I started photography as a

way to follow my passion for observing wildlife.

My formal education is as a pharmacist. I traded

my white coat for camouflage in 1992 and have

been pursuing my passion ever since. I am

a self-taught photographer, and I enjoy underwater

photography as well as terrestrial. My travels have now

taken me to every continent.



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