Braving the weather at 14,000 feet on a summer afternoon and waiting out that one right moment with rambunctious baby goats has paid off for Colorado photographer Verdon Tomajko. He was recently awarded for his photo that graced the cover of the 2013 Colorado Outdoors Photography Issue — four frisky little goats playing while a single lightning bolt strikes in the background.
The image has been named the “amateur winner” in the wildlife category of the Wilderness Forever Photography Competition 2014. It will be displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., in an exhibit that begins in September. It will also be published in the 2014 spring/summer edition of Nature’s Best Photography magazine.
Tomajko’s winning photo came together on a trip to the top of Mount Evans last July with his wife. An afternoon storm confined them for a while to the car. But they waited it out and he was able to shoot photos of a herd of goats for a couple hours. The adults were grazing and the babies, just a couple months old, played around the rocks. Tomajko saw another storm rolling in across the valley and knew it was his opportunity for a great shot.
“The baby goats started to get very anxious, running and jumping over the rocks — and over each other — with nervous energy from the incoming storm,” Tomajko said. “Despite the potentially hazardous conditions, I wanted to keep shooting, trying to get this perfect shot with the goats pausing on a rock, and a lightning strike in the background.”Tomajko said he kept shooting until his hair was standing up on end. In the photo, viewers can even see the hair on the goats standing up because of all of the electricity in the air.
“Many times I get the best shots after everyone else has had enough and has gone away,” he said. “I love to capture the unique behaviors and personalities of wildlife, and this was one of the best shooting opportunities that I have had.”
Sponsored by Nature’s Best Photography, the Smithsonian exhibit commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and highlights preserved wilderness areas in the U.S., which includes the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Tomajko grew up in Slovakia and currently resides in Superior.