National Geographic News
Fritz Mueller knows the dedication and patience necessary for award- winning photography. After hauling heavy camera gear into backcountry, he waited out six days of rain, snow, and fog before getting the picture that won this year's Mountain Photography Competition in Canada.
Mountain Culture, a division of the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, announced the winners of its eighth annual Mountain Photography Competition last week. Mueller, of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, took the grand prize for his "Autumn Sunset in the Heart of Tombstone, Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon."
A jury of respected photographers also awarded prizes in five subject areas: mountain adventure, culture, environment, flora and fauna, and landscape. The winning photographs and ten special mentions were culled from over 3,300 entries from 31 countries. The top honor was worth $1,000 (Canadian dollars; about U.S. $730) and prizes from the competition's sponsors while subject category winners took home $500 (Canadian dollars; about U.S. $370) and prizes.
Mueller is a wildlife biologist by training. Over ten years of fieldwork have provided a knowledge of wildlife distribution and behavior that informs his work behind the camera. Familiarity with the terrain in which he works also allows him to identify promising shoots.
His photography is, in turn, motivated by the desire to bring attention to fragile landscapes and endangered wildlife. "By combining a background in science with photographic skills, Fritz shares nature's complex issues, stories and phenomena with a broad audience," according to his Web site (www.fritzmueller.com).
Along with its film and book festivals, the Banff Centre's photography competition is a cornerstone of its mission to increase the understanding and appreciation of mountain areas.
Mueller's Tombstone photo supports this mission by calling attention to the accomplishments and challenges of a recently created protected area in the Canadian mountains. "It's a new Yukon park established with the local First Nation, though there's still controversy over unresolved mineral claims," he explains.
Mountain Culture's Shawn Hunter hopes that these "captivating images will bring awareness of such beauty to people not otherwise affiliated with the international mountain community."
Winners of the 2003 Mountain Photography Competition
Grand Prize: "Autumn Sunset in the Heart of Tombstone, Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon," Fritz Mueller, Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada
Best PhotoMountain Adventure: "Have a Good Flight," Rainer Eder, Zurich, Switzerland
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