Rick Shaughnessy’s winning image depicts a rich and layered scene, with as much intrigue as there is fun
“The photo was made in rural Colorado, at a tiny house settlement. My nephew and his wife live a bit off the grid. This is their son and chickens,” Rick began. “I was visiting from my home in suburban Southern California and skiing nearby at Steamboat Springs. I had been documenting skiers for the previous few days, so was glad to switch from a longer lens to my XF23mmF1.4 R for some landscapes. I was also happy to get out of the resort environment and up onto this ridge, with its jumble of eccentric buildings and one particularly ornery goat.
“As we roamed about the yard, the chickens came rushing out of their coop,” Rick continued. “My nephew’s son, Atlantis, just waded into the middle of them. The combination of bright plumage, Atlantis’s navy-blue snow suit, the red glasses, and his pink cheeks – along with the sun, snow, and shadows – was irresistible.”
In addition to kneeling in the snow to create a low angle, exposure and depth-of-field were key for Rick. “I was worried about the broad range of light values – from the piercingly bright sun on the snow, to the delicate and shadowed facial features of hens in the foreground – but I had great confidence in my X-T20 to document this scene. I allowed the snow drift to be overexposed and blurred, in favor of highlighting the foreground detail.
“To me, the beauty of travel is about encountering the unexpected,” he concludes. “I had expected, on this trip, to create hundreds of images of skiers and resort living – and I did. But this frame of something I never imagined encountering is the most memorable and beloved. Good travel photography goes beyond the role of documentation, delivering an emotional and experiential connection to a place and its uniqueness.”
Rick’s photo was a clear winner in Rebecca’s eyes. “I love everything about this image. It’s a quintessentially classic picture that you want to save and share at this kid’s wedding! Everything is spectacular, from the arrangement of chickens creating leading lines, to the array of feather colors against the snow. The placement of the child amongst the chickens with the footprints in the snow adds wonderful detail,” she noted.