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2020 Bird Portrait Contest second place: Elegant Trogon

Elegant Trogon
Elegant Trogon © Steve Wolfe/BirdWatching Bird Portrait Contest

Steve Wolfe of Portal, Arizona, won second place in BirdWatching’s 2020 Bird Portrait Contest with this impeccable photo of a male Elegant Trogon.

He took the photo in December 2017 in one of the top birding sites in the lower 48 states: the South Fork of Cave Creek Canyon, near Portal. (Steve wrote about the canyon, Hotspot Near You No. 268, in our November/December 2017 issue.)

“While I was volunteering at our visitor center in Cave Creek Canyon on December 17, 2017, a visitor came by and said he had seen a male Elegant Trogon up the canyonʼs South Fork,” Steve says. “This would have been a late bird as most trogons had headed back south by late October, so the next day I went up the canyon carrying my camera and 500mm lens. After a bit of searching, I saw it out in the open in full sunlight in a background of late-autumn colors. You can see why its former name was Coppery-tailed Trogon.”

Wes Pitts, the editor of Outdoor Photographer and one of our judges, points out the artistic quality of the image.

“There are several qualities of this photograph that make it successful,” he says. “First is the dappled light and its dramatic highlights and shadows. The sense of depth created by the light and the shallow depth of field invites you to notice other details of the image, like the repetitions of colors: the orange in the eye of the trogon echoed in the background foliage, and the green hues of the lichen on the branch and the bird’s feathers. The strong composition, with sharp details in the foreground and a soft, blurred background, make this image feel cohesive and painterly.”

Steve used a Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon EF-S 500mm f/4 IS L lens and a 1.4x teleconverter.

The photo was one of more than 700 that photographers entered in our contest. Yesterday, we featured it among the dozen finalists. Check the links below for the first- and third-place images as well as our finalists and honorable mentions.

First place: Cedar Waxwing

Third place: Wood Duck

View the contest’s finalists

View the contest’s honorable mentions

Enter your photos in our BirdWatching Photography Awards

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