3rd Place — Special by Andrew Baruffi
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3rd Place — Special by Andrew Baruffi

Gear & Settings:

  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • 24–70mm F2.8 II Lens
  • 50mm F8 1/8s ISO 100


About the photo: I’ve only been practicing photography for a couple years. In that time I’ve always assumed that subjects, composition, and conditions outweighed the importance of light. In some cases that can still be true for me, but even the littlest amount of light can make a scene truly special. This image spans across two days. In areas of Zion’s east side, patches of ice can be found tucked between the boulders of the washes in the winter months. Those patches tend to fade as more of the water and ice seeps into the sand or simply melts and evaporates on a hotter day. I arrived to a section of the main wash on a chilly day that has the more rare attribute of a pool at a certain bend. The pool was fairly iced over, and the intricacies in the ice patterns were supported by delicate fallen leaves here and there. One leaf in particular caught my eye, a golden oak that bent upwards from the center as the tip and stem were fused into the ice. I sat at that pool for a few hours trying to find the best composition, and eventually found exactly what I wanted. It was such a beautiful scene, I knew that I had to make sure that I got it right before it all vanished.

The next day I arrived to an even colder east side. I returned to the same exact composition to see how it transformed over night. The ice took on a more singular pattern with less variation thanks to the freeze, and the oak leaf still sat frozen in place. Even more special was the morning light creeping into the scene. Golden reflected light from the sandstone opposite me kissed the surface of the oak leaf, and made me realize what I was missing. It wasn’t the composition, conditions, patterns, or subjects that defined the moment; just the simplicity of a tiny bit of light.