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How I got the shotShowcase

2023 Showcase Winner: Scott Wolff

By January 17, 2023No Comments
Sandhill cranes returning to roost against a backdrop of a full moon. Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin © Scott Wolff

Sandhill cranes coming in to roost against a full moon, Crex Meadows, Grantsburg, Wisconsin, 2023 Showcase Best in Category, Birds © Scott Wolff

Best in Category: Birds

Why is this photo special?

This image is special to me because I’ve been contemplating this shot for several years.  The previous year offered promising conditions but I made a technical error and botched the shot.  There are only a few nights each year when this shot is possible locally.  It is so easy to make mistakes, and harder to “get it right”.  I had this image in my head, and there was a fair amount of planning, preparation and above all, patience in getting it all to come together.  That night, as I lay in my sleeping bag reviewing images, I paused in joy (and some disbelief) that I may have captured what I was after.

To get this image I had to be aware of the birds’ patterns and behaviors, to make an educated guess as to where they may roost at night. The conditions had to be acceptable—good light to the west, reasonable wind conditions, and a clear sky to reveal the moonrise.  I knew the compass direction of the moonrise, and positioned myself accordingly.  I arrived at my location early, so I was not hurried, with adequate clothing and a flooding chair so I was reasonably comfortable.

The technical stuff

I used a tripod with a gimbal head. The image was taken using a Canon R5 with  Canon EF600 mm f4 IS II USM.  1/1600 sec at f4.0, ISO 6400.  It was processed with Lightroom, Topaz denoise, with some Photoshop adjustments.

Photo credit: Beth Hall

About me

I live in Duluth, MN, on the shore of Lake Superior.   I’m an enthusiastic hobbyist, and recently retired from emergency medicine.  I’ve been enjoying photography since I was a teen and have always focused on nature photography.  I love all living things, but my photo files display a preponderance of birds.  I love shooting in remote locations or natural areas.  I do some volunteer work in Yellowstone, and while there I work a lot, but I usually have some time to myself around the golden hours.

My dad and uncle introduced me at a very early age to fishing, hunting, canoeing, camping etc.  My senses were alerted to natural beauty.  This has served me the best over the years.   Having a camera laying around the house and my own darkroom got me going on nature photography.  Observing animal behavior while waiting for “the right moment” is fascinating.  Photography makes me much more attentive to color, light, lines, and perspective,  and makes me a better observer.  It enhances my enjoyment of life.  I am grateful to many mentors, but two that come immediately to mind are Pete Bengeyfield and videographer Bob Landis.  I owe them a debt of gratitude for their non-verbal lessons in patience, persistence and perseverance.

Memorable moments

The crane shot was certainly a memorable moment.  More than any individual moment are the memories of planning a shot and making an educated guess of the animal’s behavior, and then waiting for the image to unfold.  More often than not this is unsuccessful, but when it works out, that’s a blast!


You can find me on Facebook (Scott Wolff) and Instagram (swolff55).  I have pulled back from social media some due to the inundation of fake news etc., so accept my apologies in advance if I am slow to respond.  Feel free to contact me via PM on messenger, or through my personal email:

See all of the Top 26 winning images from NANPA’s 2023 Showcase nature photography competition.

Top 26