Sunday, February 10, 2013

Nature's Best 2011 Photography Awards: Windland Smith Rice International Awards

Where: National Museum of Natural History

When: through April 2013 (no specific closing date yet available)

It was my week for seeing annual exhibits at the Natural History Museum.  This one is a favorite of mine: the Windland Smith Rice photography awards winners.  I wondered who Windland Smith Rice was - a photograph of her included with the contest winners showed a relatively recent photo of a young woman, and the exhibit commentary spoke of her in the past tense, so I guessed she must be dead.  A quick check of the Internet (I'm getting this from Wikipedia, so take with a grain of salt) revealed that she was a wildlife photographer who died of a sudden illness in 2005 when she was only 35 years old.  A shame, that someone so talented and apparently so encouraging of other photographers should die so young.

But enough melancholy - on to the exhibit!  I love seeing this every year - the photographs are excellent.  The subject matter is gorgeous: wildlife in all its majesty, humor and beauty.  The commentary with each picture tells of photographers waiting hours to get just the right shot; I admire their dedication to their craft immensely.  Then, only the finest printers and highest quality papers are used to reproduce the photographs.  You really feel as if you're "in" the action - the sharp, crisp photos are that fantastic.  And the colors!  So vibrant, so rich - it's breathtaking.  Each step of the process is so high caliber, and the results show this.  The fact that I can see this for free reminds me (not that I forget, mind you) how lucky I am to live and work so close by the Smithsonian.

Verdict: Do not miss this excellent small show.  I'd say you could see something else on the same trip, but you'll want to linger over these photographs.

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