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Flamingo with head curled towards its wing

Mio Monasch’s Challenge - Winner

Martin Pelayo’s winning image is a coming together of fortune and skill – expertly framed to exhibit the full majesty of his subject

“My family and I were making our way through the Sacramento Zoo when we stopped at the flamingo exhibit. The light was a little too harsh and we were busy watching our toddler, so I figured I might not have much of a chance at a good image,” Martin remembers. “Right as we were about to move away, I spotted a lone flamingo in near-perfect lighting, and just close enough for me to sneak over.

“Approaching the composition was a bit of a challenge because the light was washing too much color out of the scene, and the moodier shadows I was looking for were gone. With such little time, I knew I couldn’t pull off a more environmental portrait. But a somewhat backlit close-up would work.”

Martin’s tools were crucial in the perfect framing of his feathered subject. “The gear I had in the moment helped make things easy. My XF55-200mm’s OIS, combined with my X-T4’s IBIS, kept my frame steady at 200mm. I just needed to zoom in and adjust my exposure as quickly as possible.”

But what draws Martin to nature? “To me, this genre of photography is one of the most challenging and rewarding,” he says. “The required time and preparation for a singular picture alone makes it tough enough, but the challenges are also what make a great result so rewarding.”

Evidently, Mio was deeply enthused by Martin’s efforts. “I am blown away, not only by the detail and color range of this photograph, but by the way the bird is framed within itself. To have all of the settings to document a natural frame with a swiftly moving animal is challenging, and this is executed incredibly well. I can only imagine how exciting this must have been to experience through the viewfinder!”

Watch Mio Monasch’s Challenge

Winning photographer

Martin Pelayo

“It means a lot to have been chosen as Mio’s winner. Since I started pursuing photography, natural subjects have been some of my favorites. I am humbled to have won X-S10 and the XF70-300mm. The extra reach of the lens will be a game-changer for my nature photography, and the ergonomics of X-S10 will likewise be advantageous for the genre. I’d like to thank everyone at Fujifilm for hosting Create With Me – and for all the support they continue to show photographers.”