21st Annual
Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
First Place, Portraits

Youth 17 and Under


"Eagle Hunter"
by Tim Aiken

Click on photo for larger image.

About Tim Aiken

A family trip to Mongolia about a year ago was particularly productive for Tim Aiken, photography-wise. That's when he shot his first-place picture "Eagle Hunter" and "Prayer at Sunset," which won second place in this contest's Views Beyond the Bay youth category.

Aiken knew even before getting on the plane that he wanted to see the eagle hunters in Mongolia; he'd been learning about them from the "Planet Earth" TV series. "It's such a different form of hunting from anything else in the world," he said. "They get these eagles when they're fledglings to hunt these Arctic foxes." Usually Aiken turns his lens on landscapes, but here he tried something different. He succeeded in finding what he had hoped for: "the eagle and the hunter with the same expression." Mother Nature cooperated, too. The cloudy day served up soft lighting, and a sprinkling of rain gave added texture to the bird's feathers. Aiken took this photo in the far west portion of the country, a mountainous area where Mongolia meets China and Kazakhstan.

"The landscape is reminiscent of Alaska, let's say, with huge glacial valleys and forests and meadows," he said. "It's desolate in some ways but very beautiful." It's the same landscape where Aiken captured "Prayer at Sunset," discovering prayer flags that had been left by climbers from Nepal.

While Aiken has never formally studied photography, he learns and photographs with his friend Arjun Narayen (who took second place in the Bay Area Images' youth division with "In the City") and family friend Hector Garcia-Molina. They've been mentors and peers to him. Most of all,

Aiken credits his parents for broadening his horizons on their many overseas trips: "I do get the opportunity to see things that other people don't see."

-- Rebecca Wallace

Judge's Comment

The winners in this category relied on atmosphere and mood to strengthen their image. Tim Aiken's arresting photograph "Eagle Hunter" captures the essence of the eagle as much as the eagle hunter.�The judges always enjoy a precisely composed black-and-white photograph. 

-- Angela Buenning Filo


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