The National Audubon Society has announced the winners of the annual Audobon Photography Awards competition. The picture above, of a red-winged blackbird blowing vapor rings in Huntley Meadows Park, Alexandria, Virginia, won the Grand Prize. It was taken by Kathrin Swoboda, who tells the story behind it.
I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the "smoke rings" that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapor.
(Image credit: Kathrin Swoboda)