The results are in! More than 4,000 of you cast votes in the final round of our Winter Nature Photo Contest. This year's top honor goes to photographer Kai Sander for his photo, “CT Cornfield in Winter.”
Sander snapped his winning shot on a weekend nature walk with his then very pregnant wife. (The couple was three days overdue for their first child, and “getting a little stir crazy” at home, Sander says.) As they strolled past one of the many fallow cornfields that surround their hometown of Newtown, Connecticut, Sander noticed a flash of red.
“I wasn’t taking a lot of pictures because I was obviously thinking about the baby and talking about the baby a lot,” he says. “And I caught this piece of corn out of the corner of my eye, which was the only piece with a little bit of red in it besides all of the yellow and white and blue in this sea of corn. It just really seemed neat.”
Our contest judge, professional nature photographer John Weller
, agreed. For Weller, it was the surprise of seeing this emblem of the fall harvest—a cornhusk—in the middle of a winter scene that drew him in. The photo “communicates the passage of time, and in doing that, it becomes timeless” Weller told SciFri.
And in case you’re wondering about the origin of that striking red, William Cox, a corn expert and professor in Cornell’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, says there are a few possible explanations. Certain corn hybrids naturally have a reddish pigmentation. Then again, he says, the crimson hue could be the result of a stress response to a particularly cold winter.
You can see more of the contest finalists here
; listen to this SciFri segment
to hear how they were chosen.