2015 Annual Islands Photo Contest Winners

From ethereal portraits to colorful landscapes, the submissions in our 26th annual Islands Photo Contest couldn’t have been more different, and that made the judging tough. Here’s who took home the prizes.

Grand Prize, Chris Howard, Kauai “A windless morning in Hanalei Bay meant this was going to be a good day at work. Yep, this is my seasonal job — to take people on tours with Na Pali Catamaran. Just as the sun peeked out over the mountains, a spinner dolphin — they’re often regulars on my trip up the coast — heads for the surface. Not until this moment had I ever nailed the timing.” Shot with: GoPro Hero3+ Prize: Four-night stay at Aston Waikiki, plus airfare for two from Alaska Airlines Pro Tip: Getting down to the dolphin's level makes this shot more engaging than shooting from above.Chris Howard
Second Prize, Paul Zizka, Niue “We quickly realized that the terrain on this hike wasn’t exactly baby-friendly, so I had to return to the Talava Arches later that night, which turned out to be the perfect time. It was like my own personal magical mystery tour.” Shot with: Canon 5D3, 17-40mm, with an intervalometer lens Prize: Three-night stay at Little Palm Island, Florida, including daily breakfast Pro Tip: In landscapes, people give a sense of scale. No one around? Use a tripod and be your own model.Paul Zizka
Third Prize, Steve Joh, Roatan, Honduras “I love soccer; as a traveler, it’s truly a global pastime. A few friends and I happened upon this tiny park where local kids had just started a game; they asked if we’d like to join. The rule was if you scored, you got to stay in. We scored and played about 15 times. Standing back and seeing that light made me grab my camera. Feeling the energy and seeing the camaraderie made me wish the moment wouldn’t end.” Shot with: Nikon d100 Prize: Four-night all-inclusive stay at St. James's Club, Antigua. Pro Tip: Look for objects like the soccer net that are not only a storytelling element, but also frame the shot.Steve Joh
Artistic Merit, Steve Taylor, Big Island, Hawaii “The most enchanting thing about the Big Island is that it has every kind of landscape imaginable all in one place — from rainforests and waterfalls to black volcanoes, white beaches and green mountains. Seeing molten lava flowing had always been a dream of mine, and now I was here. I used a slow shutter speed to blur the motion of the water and the lava, but even without that effect, this landscape was beautifully haunting.” Shot with: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Prize: A weeklong photo workshop at Maine Media Workshops. Pro Tip: Long exposures make for cool lava and water effects, but remember: Safety first!Steve Taylor
Readers Choice Winner, Kevin Michael Snyder, Turks and Caicos “On the second night of our vacation, my wife and I were having dinner at Grace Bay Beach when an earth shadow started to settle in above the clouds, creating a sherbet-like painting on the sky. It took about 30 minutes to get the image from setup to tear-down, with a series of five frames. I love how the dock shoots straight into it, like it’s inviting you into heaven.” Shot with: Canon 5D Mark III, EF17-40 f/4L lens Prize: SeaLife Micro HD+ camera.Kevin Michael Snyder