‘Leap of Faith’ takes top prize at Invitational | ParkRecord.com

‘Leap of Faith’ takes top prize at Invitational

ANNA BLOOMOf the Record staffWading in a river in Snyderville Basin, legs deep in springtime runoff with his digital camera poised, David Winegar shot a red fox mid-leap with her mouth clamped onto breakfast: a fat prairie dog.

Winegar was facing the early morning sun, and was unsure about whether or not he clicked his shutter at the right time. He considered that it was possible that the photo, taken at the speed of one/eight-hundredth of a second, could have been overexposed, or that he could have missed the instant altogether. Instead, when he peered into his LCD screen, his worries subsided. It was a near-perfect shot.

"It’s a very unusual photo," he says. "It’s not all that hard to get a frontal view, but to get a dramatic moment like that, to stop motion when a fox is leaping? Some people spend a lifetime and never get a shot like that."

Winegar’s fox photo, "Leap of Faith," won "Best in Category Wildlife" at the 2007 Environmental Photography Invitational, a photography contest that attracted 2,000 submissions from Canada and the United States.

Last weekend, Winegar left his Park City home for a trip to Seattle to receive his award, which included a $1,000 cash prize. In addition to the money, his photo will hang alongside 107 other acclaimed images at the city’s Art Wolfe Photographic Center for six weeks. His photo will also appear online and in PhotoMedia Magazine.

The Environmental Photography Invitational celebrates photography as "a witness and an advocate for the conservation and preservation of our environment." Wolfe, the photographer who started and now juries the invitational, is a fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society and a board member of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The invitational’s mission is to "advance photography as a unique medium capable of bringing awareness and preservation to the environment through art." The contest is sponsored by photography industry heavyweights including Getty Images, and Tamrac. Photographers compete in several categories that span traditional landscape photos to images that depict "Man in the Environment," and "Environment at Risk."

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Winegar, a Delta Air Lines pilot, established the professional photography company, "Park City Photography," three years ago. He currently shows his work online and has a regular booth at the Park City Farmers Market in the summer. Wolfe’s contest was the first time he had entered his work for a juried exhibition.

Winegar flew with the U.S. Airforce for eight years before joining Delta. He began taking photographs alongside his father, a professional photographer when he was young.

"I’ve always been an outdoorsman," he says. "I used to work at Jans as a fly fishing guide on my days off and every time I would be outside and see that magnificent scene, I’d want to capture the moment with a camera and stop time."

Winegar continues to fly as he hones his craft. He is currently in the process of finishing his degree from an online course through the New York Institute of Photography. He explains that he e-mails his photos to professors, and they reply with a video critique.

Winegar enjoys taking photos on the ridge of Mt. Timpanogos and in the midst of an alpine forest, but his subject matter also extends to other important aspects in his life. One of his black-and-white photos was taken below a pilot resting on a wing of a Delta DC3 airplane, dwarfed by a large propeller in the foreground. He also takes photos of stained glass and sailboats.

His specialty is wildlife, however. On his Web site he has several galleries dedicated to animals including one labeled "Birds, Beasts and Bugs," with an entirely separate gallery focused on eagles.

He knew "Leap of Faith," a photo so focused that droplets from a splash can be seen sticking to the side of the fox’s fur, had a chance. Yet Winegar was surprised when he learned he had won on his first competitive submission.

"There’s a lot of luck involved in taking a photo like that," he confesses. "I never expected to win."

For more information about David Winegar, and to view some of his images online, visit parkcitydigital.com. For more information about Art Wolfe’s competition, "Environmental Photography Invitational," visit http://www.epinvitational.com.