For this year’s special nature issue, the Daily Lobo issued a challenge to photographers willing to answer the call: photographers needed to submit their highest-quality nature photo for their chance at being on its cover. All submissions were fantastic and showcased the talent of student photographers, but these top three finalists truly stood out.

     1.   “Growing Into Beauty” — Brianna Drapeau

As an upcoming photographer I sought to capture the beauty of the natural landscape. As a Native American, it is important to represent our culture.

I chose to photograph my cousin Jacey in traditional native wear as a way to capture Navajo culture and to represent the contrast of colors/beauty in our culture. As our grandma once said, "it is important to keep our traditions alive."

     2.   “Light” — Ryan del Rosario

This is a photo of a lightning storm over John B. Roberts dam in Albuquerque, NM. I took this photo because I love to photograph storms.

Lightning storms are often frustrating to photograph because it's hard to predict when and where lightning will strike. This kind of photography always comes with a few dark and boring pictures of clouds, but when the timing is just right, the results are spectacular.

Watching the night sky momentarily explode with color and light, and then seeing it again on your screen is amazing. It's hard to put into words the joy one feels after successfully photographing a bolt of lightning.

     3.   “Horseshoe Bend” — Tristan Aguilar

This photograph, for me, was a bucket list shot that I was able to check off my list this past summer. Traveling to Page, Arizona, I had one thing set in mind, and it was to catch this short trail with an amazing view of the Horseshoe Bend at sunset.

Taking photos for close to 30 minutes, waiting and moving positions to finally create this shot was more fun than tasking I would say. Although the trip is not far from New Mexico, I never really thought I would make it out there so soon.

Being able to experience this moment was breathtaking to say the least. Sitting and appreciating this atmosphere and beauty that was right in front of me was a special moment that I have often been thinking about. This photo helped me to cherish this memory for longer than just a weekend, and I cannot wait to continue to further these adventures and capture more moments similar to this. 

Brianna Drapeau is a senior at UNM studying criminology

Ryan del Rosario is a freshman at UNM

Tristan Aguilar is a junior at UNM studying communications