The Weather Channel‘s third annual “It’s Amazing Out There” photo contest drew more than 66,000 submissions from amateur and professional weather, nature and adventure photographers all across the globe. To narrow that huge field down to 64 finalists was not an easy task.
From there, a panel of “star judges” had the difficult task of selecting three winning photos. The grand prize would get $15,000, second place was worth $5,000, and $2,500 would to third place. Afterwards, The Weather Channel community got the chance to choose their own fan favorites. For four weeks, each fan-selected winner received $500.
The Weather Channel shared the winning photos, along with others, and it’s easy to agree with the contest choice for a title, “It’s amazing out there.”
“The weather turned that day. It got really really cold and all of a sudden, we woke up and went outside and saw the sun was coming up. The temperature changed so rapidly that the water was evaporating like that. We had this amazing fire-and-ice situation. It didn’t last very long, maybe 20 minutes. I just knew it was magical. I said to myself, ‘I hope a bear walks into this scene’ and sure enough this bear just walked into the scene. The bear walked out there with his head down. I was so cold, I couldn’t feel my fingertips and I was praying my battery wouldn’t freeze and I said, ‘bear, would you just lift your head about 8 inches?’ And sure enough, it lifted its head and that’s when I got the shot. I knew it was a special moment when I took it.”
– Greg Gulbransen spent four years saving and planning for a photography trip to Manitoba, Canada where he captured this year’s grand prize winning photo.
“I like to go off the beaten path. I’ve been trying to find cool, new places to explore with my camera on the weekend and on my days off. The Jomblang Cave in Indonesia is one of them. Between 10 a.m. and 1p.m. the sun will shines through when conditions are right. On that day, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the sun shining right, luckily we did. And it was an amazing experience. The scale you can see with me standing there, it’s a pretty big space and there was water showering down from above. I scampered up there with my wireless remote and I’m trying to keep it from not getting too wet, not knowing if I’m getting any pictures or not. I scurry back down, walk back to my camera and sure enough I got a few shots. I adjusted a couple things and would go back up. I think I did it maybe two or three times before I felt that I got the shot and then packed everything up.”
– Dale Johnson‘s “toughest selfie I’ve ever taken” won over our judges, who awarded him 2nd place.
“I was chasing some storms in Texas with some friends. The weather models looked good, so we got in position and watched this thing develop. It was a beautiful storm and everything was good for tornado production. It was really rotating. It never threw a tornado down, but it was really photogenic.”
– By day, Derek Burdney is a musculoskeletal radiologist, but at night he’s chasing storms – literally. And that’s exactly how he captured this year’s 3rd place photograph.
To see the four lucky ones who won $500, head on over to the winners slideshow. Below are seven more shots the jury considered to be extra noteworthy. The complete selection of 64 finalists can be seen on the website of The Weather Channel.