Craig McIntyre is the grand prize winner of the 2016 "Share the Experience" photo contest for his unique picture of a frog at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in Texas, which will appear on the 2018 America the Beautiful public lands pass.
As a self-taught photographer, Craig McIntyre has been dabbling in wildlife photography since the early 1970s. Visiting the refuge once or twice a week during the summer, McIntyre walks the trails and boardwalks, binoculars and camera at the ready. "I like photographing the frogs because they're artistic -- little reptiles and amphibians are gorgeous to me. I've been studying them for 60 years now -- patterns, designs and their behavior all fascinate me," McIntyre said. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
Early morning fog sits low over the water at Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota's Superior National Forest is the second place winner. An avid photographer for 35 years, Gary Hamer's camera equipment often replaces his fishing equipment when he heads into the back country. Such was the case on this recent trip when he captured the final day of the group's seven-day journey as friends set off to paddle across Lizz Lake.
"One of my favorite parts of wilderness paddling is arriving at the next lake and seeing what is around the corner. I think this particular photo captures that feeling as they are just hitting the water after portage," Hamer said. He got lucky with this photo, saying his camera lens fogged up as he pulled it from his bag. After quickly clearing the lens, he captured this moment. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
For Christopher Regala and his wife, experiencing new places and public lands is best done through the eyes of their son. On this occasion, Christopher and family visited Utah's Zion National Park for their annual family reunion. It was decided that the narrowest section of Zion Canyon carved by the Virgin River, would be that day's hike for all the cousins.
As the group hiked up the canyon, Regala took this picture of his son on his smart phone, having left his new camera back at camp to avoid any water mishaps. "I love the colors of the canyons and the water, and the look on his face – it's a mixture of awe and exhaustion. Although tired, he persevere," Regala said. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Adventure" category winner
This photo of bikers having fun at New Mexico's White Ridge Trail won the adventure category. The New Mexico Trials Association partnered with the Bureau of Land Management to clean the area up and develop a trials bike practice and competition venue. The area is open to all members of the public and is kept clean by the Trials Bike Association. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Every Kid in a Park" category winner
John Slezak snapped this photo of his little brother fishing in the golden hours at Oologah Lake in Oklahoma. The lake provides a great getaway for fishing, boating, picnicking, camping and family fun. While Slezak and his family arrived at the lake later in the day than they would have liked, "all in all it was an evening well spent with family," he said. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Historical" category winner
Wanting to get some sunset and night shots of the Hoover Dam and the new Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, Michael McCook jumped in his Jeep one afternoon when he noticed interesting clouds. He won the historical category for his photo of the Hoover Dam lit up at night as the last light of day lingers in the clouds. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Night Skies" category winner
Amateur photographer Matthew Hanna won the night skies category for this photo of the sky stretching above the sea stacks at Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Spanning the Oregon coast, the wilderness islands and windswept headlands of the refuge are celebrated for their abundant wildlife, rugged grandeur and amazing night skies. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Wildlife" category winner
The wildlife winner went to Matthew Sorum for his photo of a stately owl staring at the camera. Of this lucky moment at Yellowstone National Park, the photographer said, "When I shared the photo with friends on social media, it had a tremendous amount of positive responses from everyone. I appreciate that these lands are carefully managed to allow all visitors to view them and their inhabitants as Mother Nature created them." (www.sharetheexperience.org)
"Scenic" category winner
The aptly named Fantasy Canyon is like a sculpture gallery dedicated to erosional flights of fancy with intricate sandstone formations. John D'Onofrio found the area to be difficult to photograph but on a recent trip, he noticed the ghostly illumination of moonlight on the strange formations and was transfixed.
"I've been a life-long pilgrim on our public lands…I believe that finding and nurturing deeply-felt connections to the natural world is an antidote to the stress-inducing pace of modern life," D'Onofrio said. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
Fan favorite, first place
Fans picked this eerie photo of the Washington Monument as their favorite. (www.sharetheexperience.org)
Fan favorite, second place
The second place fan favorite win went to Rob Blair for his photo of Blue Hen Falls at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Blue Hen Falls is particularly beautiful in the peak of fall foliage.(www.sharetheexperience.org)