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Week 8 Winner

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The winner of Week 8 of our 2018 #52weeksofnature photo contest is Mitch Christofferson. During the Icelandic summer months Mount Maelifell is covered in green moss and surrounded by a volcanic black sand desert, but in the heart of winter it becomes a mysterious looking pyramid of snow. Mitch has won a $100 gift code to hippytree.com and we are donating $100 to the Access Fund on Mitch's behalf. Learn more about Mitch and his winning photo below:

What camera did you use and what were the settings?
Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Aperture: f/13
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 1/800

Give us the lowdown on your winning image.
This is an image of Mt. Maelifell in Southern Iceland, an ancient volcano which stands completely alone surrounded by glacial silt. I caught an early morning flight on a small Cessna plane from a tiny air strip on the south coast in early summer 2015. The heavy amount of late season snowfall had made much of the interior of the island inaccessible for the past few months. There was something about the seemingly endless sea of snow encompassing the landscape and the lone volcano breaching the surface.

How long have you been shooting?
I've been shooting photos since I was about 15 years old. I wasn't a great student in high school so I really found enjoyment in any sort of art classes or anything creative. My dad gave me his old 35mm SLR and I was hooked.

What’s your camera of choice?
The one I'm using now which is the Canon 7D MKII. It fits the construction worker budget that I'm on. You can have the nicest and most expensive camera/lens combo in the world but at the end of the day it’s the eyes behind the camera that really matter. I also enjoy shooting 35mm stills with my old man's Nikon. The mechanics, nostalgia, and tangibility of what you get out of the camera can't be beat.

What excites you about photography?
The simple fact of being able to preserve a distinct moment in time that happened to catch your eye. You can trigger memories and feelings just by looking back at photos you've taken. It’s a very personal thing to me. I can look at my photographs and remember exactly what it was like while taking the photo. The smell in the air, seeing the light change, how bitterly cold or miserably hot it was, everything about it all comes back.

What’s your favorite subject matter to shoot?
I really just try to photograph moments that personally appeal to me and my eye. I shot a lot of BMX photos when I was younger, but now I tend to shoot mostly landscapes and wildlife. When I shoot landscapes I focus on the landscape itself and not how cool my friend looks in the foreground. I've never understood the obsession with having a person or yourself standing in every single landscape photo. It really takes away from the natural beauty in my opinion.

Any shooting rituals?
I'm really not sure if I have any. I like to keep my gear organized and clean but other than that I just walk out the door everyday looking for what the world has to offer. I never go out shooting with a plan, that's what makes it so fun for me. I just want to absorb it all, not just the postcard view. There's so much raw beauty to appreciate, why try to plan out what you're gonna see and photograph.

Do you like to shoot with a crew or solo?
I'm always shooting photos whether I'm with friends or by myself. I have a great friend I hike with a lot that enjoys nature and photography the way I do so we make a good pair. I'm not a big people person so I really try to avoid crowds at all costs, especially out hiking or camping.

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