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02-22-2008, 06:02 PM   #1
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Great news, bad news, great news!

Great news:
I received approval to compete in the 2008 ICF Pro Tour of Nature Photography! I don't doubt their claim as the richest photo competition in the world, at $160,000 in prize money. First prize is $40,000. Only 20 photographers are allowed.

One of the judges last year was Art Wolfe! All of the judges have been published multiple times in major magazines, including Time, Audubon, National Geographic, etc. One of the judges in the Pro Tour this year is the Executive Director at the International League of Conservation Photographers...

The Chairman of the event was intrigued that I shoot with Pentax. He was very kind in his reply:
You have a good looking web site and your photography looks good also. I think you will give many of the pros a run for their money. Plan to get lots of sleep before the competition starts as you will not get much after April 1.

Bad news:
The month-long commitment wasn't possible with current work situation... so no Pro Tour... Had it been any other time, I would have been able to go...

Great News: However, I've been invited to compete in the 2008 Valley Land Fund Texas Shootout, which has a total prize list of $100,000... First prize is $12,000! The Chairmen wants me to compete in this instead, to prep me for the Pro Tour in 2010. Of course, that only means I can get better! This is open to pro/am photographers, and the rules are the same. It also includes a rare cat contest: if you manage to photograph a Mountain Lion, Ocelot, or Jaguarundi in the wild, and you have the best image, it's worth $5000!

I will be assigned to a rancher who covers my lodging, etc. for the duration of the competition, and makes sure that I get all the photo opportunities I need for the various categories/divisions. We work as a team (photographer & rancher) to ensure our success, since the prizes are split amongst the team. They often have blinds and watering holes setup for the photographers. I am allowed to submit up to 50 images in my Portfolio submission. The premise of this event is to encourage private landowner conservation efforts: by allowing photographers access to these otherwise off-limit areas of the country.

That's a quick synopsis, but I plan to spend at least 3-4 weeks shooting during the 3 month period that is allowed for the team to obtain images. The shoot will occur inland of South Padre Island, north of the McAllen, TX area. I have been confirmed that I will be assigned to a 15,000 acre ranch for the competition. The competition runs from April 1 - June 30th, 2008.

Now I have to decide if I can get away with the FA* 300/2.8 and a TC, or plunk down some $$$ cash for either a Sigma EX 500/4.5 or <gulp> the FA* 600/4.

Did I mention that I am very excited?? I am just hoping to break even...


02-22-2008, 07:01 PM   #2
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That is fricken awesome, to bad, and fricken awesome all over again. Best of luck and do us Pentaxians proud!
02-22-2008, 07:09 PM   #3
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Wow, Marc. That is really a great honour. Really looking forward to the outcome of the competition and all the best to everything.
02-22-2008, 07:37 PM   #4
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Congrats Marc and good luck)))))))))))

02-22-2008, 07:39 PM   #5
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Congrats and best of luck. It would be so cool if a Pentax shooter won!
02-22-2008, 08:05 PM   #6
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Congratulations Marc, that is really cool That's a tough choice on the lens, wish I had a decision like that. (maybe if we win the megamillions lotto tonight)
02-22-2008, 08:16 PM   #7
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Congrats Marc. This is tooooooo coooool!! Knock em dead! Now make sure you bring lots of catnip!! Any prizes for the best hummer shots?

Now I think it's time for a big gun. Maybe you should contact Pentax USA and see what they have toward a lens sponsorship. Maybe they have a sample unit you can borrow for a month or so. Good promo material for you and them if you win.
02-22-2008, 08:22 PM   #8
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congrats, that is really awesome! Good luck!

02-22-2008, 08:30 PM   #9
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Congrats! If you don't mind, what ranch will you be at? Just curious if they have exotics and such. That would make for some really cool photo ops, especially if you can get a few shots of a jaguarundi roaming around too.
02-22-2008, 09:04 PM   #10
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Wow. What an incredible opportunity. Should shake up the big two. A Pentax! Interesting program to work with a rancher. Need more of those types of incentives.
Would call Pentax and inquire about their new pro loaners. There has to be some way to get you a bigger lens. If not, maybe you could ask Sigma. They would like the recognition when you win! There is a Pentax 600 f4 for sale on the forum.
Good luck with all the preparation and shooting. So exciting. Wow. Keep us informed.
02-22-2008, 09:10 PM   #11
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Thanks Everyone! I promise to post pics when possible. The judging runs for a week in July.

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Congrats Marc. This is tooooooo coooool!! Knock em dead! Now make sure you bring lots of catnip!! Any prizes for the best hummer shots?

Now I think it's time for a big gun. Maybe you should contact Pentax USA and see what they have toward a lens sponsorship. Maybe they have a sample unit you can borrow for a month or so. Good promo material for you and them if you win.
Thanks Peter! I've lost a LOT of sleep over the excitement of it all.

To confirm: they do have a hummingbird category: it's lumped as hummingbirds, nightjars, swallows and swifts. They also have a macro and landscape categories, which I am very comfortable with. The real unknown is the bird categories - that is a relative unknown for me, and obviously longer glass is critical. Full categorizations can be found in the sites above - there are quite a few! They have 50 categories to win in, each category win is worth $500.

Thank you for the suggestion. I sent a note to Pentax USA about this on Monday, Feb. 18th... the person I sent it to is in Japan at the moment... and I'll let you guess as to whom that might be...

02-22-2008, 09:20 PM   #12
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links to website and rules, plus some clarifications...

Here's the link to the ICF Pro-Tour website: 2008 Pro-Tour Overview | Images for Conservation Fund

Link to the Valley Land Fund website (the one I'll be in): Valley Land Fund

I will be registering on Monday for the Valley Land Fund photo competition.

If you check the rules, it will raise your eyebrows.
Both events are very serious money, and they are very, very serious about a level playing field. In the open competition, you supply one CD with the JPEGS, and another with the RAW/TIFF files. The Pro Tour is hard drives only. No cropping is allowed, and only a max. of 10% cropping of image in the Pro Tour competition. They are very strict on what is allowed to be done to the images. This is about Nature photography in it's purest form, not about who can use Photoshop. Oversharpening, etc. can result in the image being disqualified.

Art Wolfe (look him up if you don't know who he is) was a judge last year, and he told John (the chairman) that this was the fairest competition that he's ever seen in the 30 years as a competitor or a judge.

You are subject (at their discretion) to polygraph testing if they believe your images are illegal (ie. not within the rules).

Last edited by Marc Langille; 02-23-2008 at 07:38 AM.
02-22-2008, 10:05 PM   #13
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Congratulations! You must be about to bust. Some of the very best wildlife photographers in the country have competed. It would be a huge start for you professionally if you should win down there. I think you have the talent for the shoot, now may the good Lord bless the work of you hands.
02-23-2008, 12:31 AM   #14
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Yay, Marc! I'm sooooo impressed! You'll do us all proud, I'm sure. I wouldn't be surprised if the Pro Tour invites you again.
02-23-2008, 01:05 AM   #15

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Very cool nice to see someone taking the next step.

Now - go get youself.
Another body - just in case bad ju-ju occurs.
More SD cards - lots more.
A Wolverine/Epson etc. portable HD to start the copies of images.
Get a good backup of your laptop - chase off the bad ju-ju.
Print out the sunrise/sunset times for the area you will be in.
Get a new water bottle.

If you miss a shot - do not worry about it or mull it over - get ready for the next one.

Oh - be sure to laugh a lot --- sure beats crying.

The Elitist - formerly known as PDL

Last edited by PDL; 02-23-2008 at 10:33 AM. Reason: fixed my signature --- duh!

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