Winners announced: The Epson International Pano Awards 2017

Founded back in 2009 by Australian landscape photographer David Evans with the support of Epson Australia, the Epson International Pano Awards has since grown into an annual competition dedicated to the art of panoramic photography.

Each year, the competition has grown in popularity, stimulated by the rise in the popularity of image-stitching, especially in the panoramic format. With advances in digital photography and editing software, the rapid-paced development of VR ‘immersive’ photography, and the photographers’ continued love for panoramic film photography, this year’s Epson International Pano awards set a new record as the largest competition for panoramic photography.

The 2017 competition received 5377 entries from 1322 amateur and professional photographers in 71 countries, who competed for a piece of the competition’s $50K prize pool, including $22K cash.

Open Photographer of the Year; Open Award — Nature / Landscape
Awarded to Jesus M Garcia

 Jesus M Garcia, Good morning Damian Shan, China Jesus M Garcia, Toledo City foggy night, Spain Jesus M Garcia, Whuzi hill, China

Jesus M Garcia, Good morning Damian Shan, China
Jesus M Garcia, Toledo City foggy night, Spain
Jesus M Garcia, Whuzi hill, China

Jesus M Garcia, Good morning Damian Shan, China
“This photo was taken in China. We got up early, about 3am to climb to the top of the mountain, between trees and vegetation. After one hour of climbing and carrying all the photographic gear we arrived at the top. This image is the result of seven vertical stitched images. Nowadays when I see this photo, I remember the great effort to get this picture, but I remember too … one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life.”

Jesus M Garcia, Toledo City foggy night, Spain
“Over several years I have travelled to Toledo City (I live around 20 minutes away) to take the photo that I dreamt of. Many years, and many trips to Toledo City, and when I would arrive, the fog would be too hard, light, or high. Last year, at last, I got what I was looking for… the fog was perfect. When I was shooting, my head was telling me, ‘Yes! This time you did it!’”

Jesus M Garcia, Whuzi hill, China
“During our trip to China, I saw several locations that I was to discover. This location is called Whuzi Hill or ‘Cuiping Mountains’ to the natives, and it’s one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited. We visited this place at sunset. This picture is a result of six vertical stitched images. When I took this picture, my eyes were viewing something like the creation of the world. It was a ‘right place at the right time’ moment.”

2017 Major Amateur
Awarded to Darren Moore

 Darren Moore, Ten Huts, UK Darren Moore, Spine, Scotland Darren Moore, Sea Serpent, Scotland

Darren Moore, Ten Huts, UK
Darren Moore, Spine, Scotland
Darren Moore, Sea Serpent, Scotland

Darren Moore, Ten Huts, UK
“These minimalist huts sit on a secluded section of the Essex coastline here in the UK. Each hut sold for £25,000 a few years ago and provide (on a clear day) panoramic views over a beautiful estuary. At high tide they sit just 8 inches above the surface, creating your very own private island.”

Darren Moore, Spine, Scotland
“These pillars were used for a small railway to carry stone and equipment to the distant breakwater when major repairs were being carried out in the 1960s. The pillars have never been removed because of concerns that it could alter the way sea flows into the harbour.
Fuji X-T1, 16-55mm lens, 340 second exposure using a 10-stop filter.”

Darren Moore, Sea Serpent, Scotland
“This unique breakwater can be found hidden at the end of a harbour located in St Monans, a small village in the East Neuk of Fife. The unusual shape makes it a wonderful photographic subject in all sorts of conditions. Locally, its traditional name is just simply ‘The Blocks’, but to me it looks like something else entirely.
Fuji X-T1, 16-55mm lens, 2.5 second exposure.”

Amateur Award — Nature / Landscape
Awarded to Ray Jennings

 Ray Jennings, Incoming, Lake Windamere NSW Australia

Ray Jennings, Incoming, Lake Windamere NSW Australia

Open Award Winner — Built Environment / Architecture
Awarded to Javier de la Torre

 Javier de la Torre, Flying Shanghai, China

Javier de la Torre, Flying Shanghai, China

Open Award — Nature / Landscape
Awarded to Jesus M Garcia

 Jesus M Garcia, Good Morning Damian Shan, China

Jesus M Garcia, Good Morning Damian Shan, China

Amateur Award — Built Environment / Architecture
Awarded to Darren Moore

 Darren Moore, Ten Huts, UK

Darren Moore, Ten Huts, UK

2017 Carolyn Mitchum Award
Awarded to Wojciech Kruczynski

 Wojciech Kruczynski, Eye of Stokksnes, Iceland

Wojciech Kruczynski, Eye of Stokksnes, Iceland

“The relationship between you and nature can be very close and intimate. If you listen to her, she will be grateful. Then you can feel this strong relationship. But first you have to be ready to meet the different requirements of nature. You must be able to survive in difficult weather and field conditions. To make this shot, I was circulating around Stokksnes a few cloudy and frosty days, waiting for the perfect weather.

If you want a lot of something, you have to keep hope and wait steadfastly. You have to devote your time and comfort — just like with a loved one. This time the result exceeded my expectations. It was probably the most beautiful night in my life, as if nature began to wink at me and speak to me by name. I hope that she is also talking to you.”

2017 Carolyn Mitchum Award Runner-up
Awarded to Rita Kluge

 Rita Kluge, Freedom, Tonga

Rita Kluge, Freedom, Tonga

“I’d like to share with you where I find freedom, a place of hope and beauty. This is a cave I was taken to named Swallows Cave in Tonga, in the South Pacific. It's very tall and about 14m deep. I have been visiting this place three years in a row and longing over time to be in there again.
Swallow birds — hence its name — flying around and making birdy sounds, then when you swim in, you enter a darkness [and when] first it echoes in there, it's magical. Then you made it to the end of that cave, which is like the inside of an egg so it's sort of oval in there, like a cocoon, and you feel safe. You turn to look to the entrance of the cave where the birds are flying in and out and half underwater. You can see the ground of it as in this picture and you see blue in such a beautiful way, which I tried to capture for you.
I was lucky that day, [the cave was] filled with hundreds of fish each the length of my hand, swimming in circles in there. It's so beautiful and I wish I could take you there to feel what I felt. It is such a place of nature, I just need to share it with the world, it’s important to show how humans and marine life can share it in balance.”

2017 Carolyn Mitchum Award Second Runner-Up
Awarded to Adam Gibbs

 Adam Gibbs, Temperate breeze, Fairy Lake, Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Adam Gibbs, Temperate breeze, Fairy Lake, Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

“The Fairy Lake fir is like an old friend. Each time I drive out to Port Renfrew I always make a point of stopping at Fairy Lake to check in to see if my old friend is still hanging in there.
The first time that I discovered this little Douglas fir was on my first photography trip to the southwest coast of Vancouver Island in 2009. At first, I couldn’t see how a tree could survive in the middle of a lake. After some scrutiny, I realized that the fir had taken root on a massive old growth stump that had lodged itself into the bottom of the lake. At first glance, I thought that perhaps the conifer was a small sapling that had only recently taken root. However, it turns out that the Fairy Lake fir is at least thirty years old and known well in the community of Port Renfrew.
Over the years I have taken many images of the Fairy lake bonsai. Each photo is often entirely different, but due to its simplicity, each image carries a similar message. The Fairy lake fir lives on a thread, a tough life that for many portrays its struggle of endurance. Everyone is rooting for this little tree to carry on surviving, at least one more year. With every tide and heavy rain, Fairy Lake ebbs and flows, sometimes almost immersing the tree under water completely. But again and again, the fir emerges defiant from these depths as the ultimate survivor. The wilderness that surrounds Fairy Lake and the wild lands that lie beyond have lost much of their old growth forests. Perhaps in some small way, the Fairy Lake Fir symbolizes nature's tenacious ability to survive even in the harshest of conditions.
I like to think that perhaps this image portrays hope, survival, and the knowledge that even though life does end in a physical sense, it will always endure for those that have been touched by its past existence.”

Epson Digital Art Prize
Awarded to Mads Peter Iversen

 Mads Peter Iversen, Sand and stars, USA

Mads Peter Iversen, Sand and stars, USA

“This is a composite photo from Death Valley National Park. We spent four days in this fantastic environment and went into the Mesquite Sand Dunes twice. I didn’t manage to capture a proper Milky Way photo while in the dunes, so I composited one from Badwater Basin — also located in Death Valley National Park.

I found this beautiful curve in the dunes, which I could extend with the Milky Way to create one long S-curve. On top of that, the Milky Way lines up with the foreground sand curve, making two parallel lines. All this makes one strong and simple composition.”

I’ve been fascinated with astronomy my entire life and fusing the Milky Way with a sandy foreground seems obvious to me. It’s fascinating that there’re more stars in the universe than grains of sand on planet Earth!”

Epson Digital Art Prize Runner-Up
Awarded to Juan Pablo de Miguel Moreno

 Juan Pablo de Miguel Moreno, Flysch, Zumaia, Spain

Juan Pablo de Miguel Moreno, Flysch, Zumaia, Spain

Epson Digital Art Prize Second Runner-Up
Awarded to Peter Coskun

 Peter Coskun, Consumer, Death Valley National Park, California

Peter Coskun, Consumer, Death Valley National Park, California

2017 Curator’s Award
Awarded to Nate Merz

 Nate Merz, Stranger things, South Korea

Nate Merz, Stranger things, South Korea

“As an American photographer currently living full time in South Korea, part of my drive in photography comes from a desire to capture as much of the hidden beauty that this country has to offer. South Korea certainly doesn't pop into most people's minds when they think of landscape photography, but there really is a lot of beauty here, even if capturing it in the right conditions can seem particularly challenging.

This shot is just one example of that beauty. This is actually just one of the country's smaller pine groves, but on a foggy morning it transforms into quite a dreamy scene. The curve and bending of the trees is natural and a wonderful attribute of the pine trees found in this part of the world, Korea in particular. The light in this photo is a car parked on the edge of the grove, and combined with the first hint of pre-sunrise blue hour light made for an eerie and dreamy scene that I couldn't resist”

To view the full list of finalists of the Epson International Pano Awards’, visit thepanoawards.com.