9th Annual Nature’s Colors Contest Winners

Congratulations to the winners and all of the finalists of our 9th Annual Nature’s Colors Photo Contest. Featured here are the Grand Prize, Second Place and Third Place winners.

Click here to see all of the finalists.

Grand Prize

“Morning At The Elk Rut—Cataloochee Valley” by John Mariana

The Cataloochee Valley is a portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in North Carolina between Knoxville and Ashville. Once a farming community, it was acquired by the National Park Service, and historic frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries have been preserved, surrounded by 6000-foot peaks. Elk were released in Cataloochee Valley in 2001 as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially during the Elk Rut from mid-September to mid-October in the early morning and evening hours.

Early on an October morning, I drove along the valley road and was struck by the sun rising over the nearby mountain and casting rays. The tree on the left was lit from behind, making it stand out from the background. As this bull elk roamed the field, I kept shooting and waiting for a strong composition and back light. The final image is a three-image panorama. The panorama provides the scale and the breadth of the scene that was just awesome.

Nikon D600, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR at 170mm. Exposure: 1/640 sec., ƒ/14, ISO 640.

Second Place

“Latourell Falls” by Brian Waddell

When I took this late-autumn photo of Latourell Falls in the Columbia River Gorge, I wanted to get off the main trail and away from people, so decided to walk along the old Columbia River Highway to look for a way up. I found a small game trail and started hiking it, being careful not to disturb the fragile moss and ferns that are part of the beauty of the Gorge. I hiked as far as I could until I got to a cliff wall. I then traversed over a couple hundred yards of slippery rocks at the bottom of the cliff until I found this perfect vantage point.

Nikon D7100, Tokina AT-X 11-16mm F2.8 PRO DX at 11mm, Singh-Ray polarizer. Exposure: 1/13 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 400.

Third Place

“Painted Sunset” by Arif Abdullah

Living in the San Francisco Bay area, I have the privilege of enjoying California’s Pacific coast quite often. No matter how many times I visit this majestic stretch, it never ceases to amaze me. The rugged beauty of Big Sur’s McWay Falls overlook at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park always takes my breath away irrespective of time and season. But surely, the magical sunset in autumn of 2016 that I tried to capture in this shot was unforgettable. The golden-yellow shades of the sky, the translucent turquoise waves, the shimmering waterfall and the evening mist juxtaposed so perfectly as if painted on an artist’s canvas. This image is composed of two exposures blended manually to bring out the wide dynamic range of the actual scene.

Sony a7R, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM at 19mm, Metabones adapter, Breakthrough Photography X4 polarizer, Vanguard Alta Pro 254CT tripod. Exposure (sky): 0.6 sec., ƒ/20, ISO 100. Exposure (foreground): 5 sec., ƒ/20, ISO 100.


The post 9th Annual Nature’s Colors Contest Winners appeared first on Outdoor Photographer.

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Why a Bitcoin future will always end up in centralization

Let’s imagine Bitcoin has accomplished the unthinkable — it’s become the one true currency used for peer-to-peer payments around the world. In this Bitcoin Valhalla, let’s imagine that all non-cash payments are conducted with Bitcoin. Instead of credit cards, people whip out theifavoritete Bitcoin hardware or mobile wallets in coffee shops and hair salons across the world. Just how many of these non-cash payments would there be in this perfect world? Today, non-cash payments account for approximately 522 billion transactions per year worldwide, and that number seems to be increasing in quadratic fashion, meaning it’ll be a lot bigger by the…

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These are the best apps you’ve probably never heard of

Have you ever wondered what products or apps you’re missing out on? It’s easy to find the most popular ones in a particular category—but what about the hidden gems? One of Product Hunt’s community members David Spinks has the same question. So, he asked other users: What’s one app you use a lot that most people don’t know about? The community responded with over 220 product recommendations. Here are 27 of our favorites—from a plug-in that helps you write better, to a Mac volume booster, to an automated website that tracks just about everything in your life. Read on for more…but be ready to…

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6 things you should negotiate for as a freelancer (that aren’t money)

When business professionals do well at their jobs, they get to negotiate for a higher salary at their next review.  When we freelancers do well at our jobs, we usually don’t get that kind of adjustment option. Worse yet, many freelancers get sucked into working for free. Recent research from Approve.io found that 70 percent of freelancers were propositioned to work for free in 2016. And, out of all the creative freelancers studied in this research, photographers and graphic designers were the most likely to be asked to do free work. In the past, other surveys have found that the amount…

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Decentralization 2.0: Beyond the semi-monopolies of Uber and Airbnb

Four years ago, on Christmas Eve in my small hometown of Yakutsk, the temperature fell down to freezing -45°C and all the local taxi services simultaneously doubled their prices — leaving loads of people stranded in the Siberian winter. Angry and frustrated, a bunch of students formed a public group on VK.com, a popular Russian social network, where anyone could submit a request for a ride, and those who owned cars could accept their calls for help. A year later the group had 50,000 subscribers. A little later on, I gathered a lean team and transformed the group into a…

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Football trumps the shutdown: Pentagon TV network cleared to air NFL playoffs

AFN management
Staff Sgt. Modesto Alcana manages air times on the American Forces Network at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, as seen in a photo from 2011. (USAF Photo / Nick Wilson)

News Brief: When it comes to the U.S. military, football trumps the government shutdown, even without Boeing’s help. The American Forces Network essentially went off the air once this weekend’s shutdown took effect, which suggested that it wouldn’t be airing NFL football playoffs for overseas military families. That sparked an outcry, and an offer from Boeing to “do whatever needed” to get the games on the air. In the end, the Department of Defense gave the go-ahead to revive two channels, AFN News and AFN Sports, and broadcast today’s conference championships. Boeing, meanwhile, got a nice tweet-out from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

This is an updated version of an item that was first published at 9:17 p.m. PT Jan. 20.

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Trulia picks 3 cities for Amazon HQ2, based on housing affordability data

Amazon construction
Amazon’s growth in the South lake Union neighborhood is a big factor in the squeeze on available homes and condos in Seattle. (Kurt Schlosser / GeekWire)

In Amazon’s hometown, Seattle, the growth-hungry e-commerce juggernaut has had a measurable impact on housing costs. That doesn’t always sit well with Seattleites who lived in the city before the Amazon boom. High housing costs can also be a recruiting issue, though Seattle is still far more affordable than the Bay Area where many other tech titans are located.

Related: Amazon narrows HQ2 search to 20 cities, moving to next phase in contest for $5B economic prize

Still, Amazon’s experience in Seattle and desire to attract top talent could make housing affordability a factor as the company decides which where it will locate HQ2, the $5 billion second headquarters announced last Fall. If Amazon is looking closely at housing costs, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Columbus are the best bets, according to a new analysis from Trulia.

Trulia, a real estate website under the Zillow Group umbrella, looked at housing affordability, housing inventory, and “Amazon’s own prerequisites” to come up with those three cities. Trulia’s chief economist, Ralf McLaughlin, analyzed affordability and price data from the site’s inventory and looked at the quality of each city’s graduate-level computer science and economics programs.

“While it wasn’t explicitly included in their list of preferences, Amazon did include guidance in the application process that they were looking for ‘diversity of housing options, availability of housing near potential sites for HQ2, and pricing’ as well as cost-of-living data,” McLaughlin said in an email. “These criteria are tightly correlated with housing affordability.”

A new study by Apartment List predicts that smaller metros, like Pittsburgh and Columbus, would experience higher rent increases than bigger cities, like Chicago, if Amazon HQ2 located there. In Columbus, Apartment List predicts a rent increase of 1.3-1.7 percent, on top of ordinary rent growth, if the city landed the second headquarters. Pittsburgh rents would jump between 1.2-1.6 percent, according to the analysis.

(Apartment List Image)

The city that is chosen will have the advantage of knowing Amazon — and 50,000 high-paying jobs — are on the way, something Seattle never had. That city will have the opportunity to grow its housing inventory before Amazon arrives, though an influx of that many well-paid tech workers will likely impact the housing market anyway.

On Thursday, Amazon announced 20 cities that will move on to the next phase of its HQ2 contest, narrowing the field from 238.

“There seems to be two distinct sets of finalists, from the very expensive, cosmopolitan markets, such as Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and Toronto, to the more affordable markets with a growing tech sector, such as Austin, Denver, and Pittsburgh,” said Trulia’s McLaughlin. “My bet is that the latter have a better shot at landing Amazon HQ2 than the former.”

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Week in Review: Most popular stories on GeekWire for the week of Jan. 14, 2018

Get caught up on the latest technology and startup news from the past week. Here are the most popular stories on GeekWire for the week of Jan. 14, 2018.

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Most popular stories on GeekWire

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Hands-on with Amazon Go: We tested the tech giant’s experiment in checkout-free retail

GeekWire’s Todd Bishop checking out the Amazon Go high-tech retail store in Seattle this past week. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Smartphone in hand, I stood inside the Amazon Go store and turned the screen over to scan a unique QR code into the top of the waist-high interior gateway. With a cheerful three-toned beep, the system logged me in, the glass doors opened, and green lights beckoned me into the future of retail.

Twenty-three seconds later, I was done shopping, standing back outside the gateway with my $2.99 bottle of Odwalla Strawberry C Monster Smoothie. It all happened so quickly I barely had time to think. I had simply grabbed the item and walked out, without standing in line or going through a traditional checkout. If anyone had been watching without knowing what was going on, it would have looked like I was shoplifting.

A short time later, the receipt appeared in the Amazon Go app, showing the amount debited for the purchase.

[RELATED: Amazon Go is finally a go: Sensor-infused store opens to the public Monday, with no checkout lines]

This is Amazon’s biggest experiment yet in high-tech retail — redefining the concept of grab-and-go grocery using a vast array of overhead cameras and weight sensors in the shelves to automatically track what people pick up and take from the store. By logging shoppers in at the entrance, then tracking their actions in the store, the system eliminates the need for traditional checkout registers and checkout workers along with them.

The system worked flawlessly during GeekWire’s very brief hands-on experience this past week. But the real test will come Monday, when the first Amazon Go store is scheduled to open to the public at the base of Amazon’s Day One tower on the northern edge of downtown Seattle.

It will be fascinating to see what happens, in at least two ways.

  • First, there were reports last year that Amazon Go was struggling to accurately track items when too many people were in the store. Not true, company representatives told us, saying that the system worked during the internal employee testing phase even when the 1,800-square-foot store was at fire marshal capacity of more than 90 people including shoppers and workers. That’s what makes the public opening such a significant test for the technology.
  • Second, how will people react to the notion of having their actions tracked inside the store? Sure, people will enter the store willingly, and the store is essentially a physical manifestation of the type of tracking that already takes place online. But to the extent that this concept represents the future of physical retail, where will the average person draw the line on personal privacy in the real world? The system includes both depth cameras and color cameras, and Amazon doesn’t hide them, leaving them clearly visible overhead in the rafters of the store.
Overhead cameras inside the Amazon Go store. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Although there are some non-food items in the store, such as batteries and cold medication, the vast majority of the shelf space is dedicated to food and beverage, making Amazon Go feel more like a small grocery store than a traditional convenience store. We didn’t conduct a full price survey, but the limited prices we did check, including the Odwalla juice, were the same or comparable to what we’d find at our local grocery store.

In a bit of a surprise twist, Amazon Go doesn’t require an Amazon Prime membership to use. Customers will need to download the Amazon Go app, available Monday for iPhone and Android, and log in to the app with their normal Amazon accounts to gain access.

Amazon Go, at 2131 7th Ave. in Seattle, will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday. See this story about the opening for more details.

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