Eagle photo by APG civilian wins 2016 Army Digital Photo Contest category
One brisk, November 2016 morning at the Conowingo Dam, William Pully, a civilian with the U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command, patiently floated in his kayak with a camera for more than four hours to capture the perfect shot.
“Master of the Hunt,” Pully’s photograph of an American bald eagle soaring over the dam while grasping its morning catch, dated Nov. 18, 2016— was the first-place winner in the Animals category of the 2016 Army Digital Photography Contest.
Pully said he was excited to learn about his win.
“It’s nice to get recognized for something you really enjoy, and you hope that you can share with other people,” he said.
A self-taught photographer, Pully said he caught the photography bug a few years ago after stumbling onto Conowingo during the bald eagle migration season.
“There were all these photographers down there… During the prime season— right around Thanksgiving— there’s going to be 200 to 300 people out there on the weekend observing the eagles,” he said.
“Really, the Conowingo eagles… got me to start taking photography seriously and got me enthusiastic about it… It’s what got me hooked.”
Pully continued to visit the area over the years, each time with better photography equipment to capture America’s national emblem as it glides through the air.
He said the difficulty that’s involved in getting the perfect shot of the birds, which are constantly moving, is what excites him about the field.
“You never know if it’s going to be sharp or if there’s going to be some type of blur… That’s part of what makes it so exciting— that it’s so difficult to get the shot,” Pully said.
For shutterbugs looking to sharpen their skills, Pully recommends a trip to Conowingo.
“Depending on the time of year, there are dozens to hundreds of photographers who are relatively friendly and willing to chat and share [their expertise]. It’s a really great place to…learn from a lot of really great photographers,” he said.
Since his first trip to the dam, Pully has continued to focus on wildlife photography and he has photographed hawks, peregrine falcons and foxes in the area.
In the future, he hopes to capture Arctic wildlife on film, but for now Pully is amazed every day by the eagles that remain his main subjects.
“They’re [eagles] really majestic birds… It’s just a great natural spectacle,” Pully said.
The Army Digital Photography Contest occurs annually and is open to active duty service members, family members, retirees and civilians.
Entries are divided into two categories: Active Duty Military Members, and Other Eligible Participants. The seven categories within each division include: Animals; Design Elements; Digital Darkroom; Military Life; Nature & Landscapes; People; and Still Life.
The 2016 competition had 4,059 entries.
For more information about the contest, visit https://www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/arts-and-crafts/ digital-photo-contest.