I love you guys. I give you the hardest challenge ever—take a great photo with only one shot—and you choose very risky, high margin for error techniques and subjects. The best submissions? Screw ups...that created something unexpectedly wonderful.

WINNER and Lead Shot - Spring Dip

I was totally ready for this one. I was going to my sister's wedding in Utah and I knew there would be plenty of opportunities to take lots of great one-time photos there. The day before the wedding, we went to Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, UT which is a big family oriented complex which includes museums, an amphitheater, and gardens, among other things. We decided to spend some time there and see what it was all about. When we arrived it was snowing very lightly and the wind was blowing a bit, so it was rather cold. We went to the gardens because they are currently having their Tulip Festival. After we paid for admission and paid for the golf cart, the snow had started getting heavier. They gave us a blanket to use. I hopped on the back, which faced backwards, with my aunt while my dad and uncle took the front. The combination of driving, the wind, and the snow made it absolutely unbearable. We ventured off as far as we could go and I was snapping pictures as we went. We stopped for a moment by this statue and I took this photo. After reviewing it, instinct made me want to take another picture because there's a large, out of focus snowflake right in front of the girl, but remembering this contest I decided not to and that I'd use this one. The vivid spring colors of the flowers against the dull grey snowy background is very peculiar, not to mention the statue is of a girl in a dress who looks like she's ready to dip into the stream while it's snowing. This was taken with my Canon T2i with a Sigma 28mm lens in Shutter Priority mode at 1/500, f/4, ISO 200.
- Evan Hughes


Serendipitous Wildfire

Down here in the Nogales, Arizona, area we have had a wild fire to the west of Nogales for the last 10 days or so. I was taking photos of the smoke near the office. Anyways, the smoke was blowing across the City, making the visibility really poor. I remembered I had recently gotten an infrared filter for my Canon T2i a month earlier, and thought I would try the filter to see if I could see through the smoke a little. So I put the filter on, forgetting that the auto-focus will not work with the IR Filter in place. I also forgot to reset the color setting to black and white, leaving it in the normal color space. I guessed at the time of exposure I would need to get something. Having played with IR Photography since getting the filter, I tried 15 seconds. Put the camera on my tripod. Aimed towards the fire, and hit the button. The result? Well, interms of what I was aiming for, it was a complete disastor. However, it is still a rather fascinating, though more as abstract art.
- John Hays


Light Leak

Saw a wooden sculpture of a salmon near a local coffee shop and thought it might be interesting. The light leak was totally unintentional. When I went to develop my film (being the absolute amateur that I am) I somehow messed up the manual film rewind so the film wouldn't go back into the original canister. I of course had to crack open the back just a smidgen to make sure I had really over-wound it, which is when I risked ruining all my photos. I'm glad this one survived! Shot with a Nikon F3. Fujifilm 200 ISO 35mm film. F3.5 and had to use auto for shutter speed because I never shoot with film and I didn't want to ruin my 'one shot'.
- Samuel Oh


Nature's One-Shot

hoto was taken while camping on my friends land up in Johnson VT, had to wait until the day after I found them so I could take the picture in the short window when the sun peeked through the trees and lit up the small puddle they were in. Shot with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i, on f/2.8, 1/200, and ISO-100.
- Ben Ozug


Mad Light Painting Skills

I used my guitar and a mini mag light for this light painting. I love photography and I love playing my guitar, though I'm not a pro at either, but this kinda looked like an interesting subject to take a picture of. I have been working on my light painting skills for a while and this contest seemed like a good opportunity to actually see how good I am. When I first read the contest details this afternoon, while sitting through a boring political science lecture, I didn't pay much attention to it because I usually don't participate in photography contests. But on my frustrating rush hour drive back home, I suddenly realized my camera's costs and its inversely proportional relationship to how much I use it. Then all that was left to do was to make an irrational decision - take a picture of the first thing I find lying on my bed - and I guess by now you probably know what it was. I used a Canon 7D with 28-135 IS USM kit lens to take this picture. Camera settings: ISO 200, 0ev, f/22, 46 second shutter length, auto white balance, multi-metering.
- Aayush Agrawal


Dream Spark

I am currently visiting some friends from out of state and when I am with these friends we usually have a lot of crazy fun. I was standing in the parking lot of their apartment complex when I get a call from another friend In the area, he then asks me if I have my camera and as always I immediately tell him yes, I do have it. He then tells me to find a metal hanger, straighten it out and meet in the field behind the apartments. Without hesitation or question I instantly get my camera ready, round up the metal hanger and run out there. Once we have both met-up in the field he bigins to tell me about this site he went to by means of "Stumbleupon.com" and it was all possible by sticking steel wool to a metal hanger, and using your arm to then swing it around your head to create about 25-30 feet of sparks. I then prepared the camera using his car as the tripod along with the case for my CF card, got the settings I wanted, focused and let it rip.


The outcome of this photo could not have been any better in my opinion, I was so happy that he had brought this idea to me and even more happy that the photo contest this week is basically a one shot free-for-all! Thanks for the challenge, it was great! Canon EOS 20D, 28x70mm Canon L, ISO: 100, F/22, Exposure: 6s
- George Westlake

Moon Jellies

Good'ol Aurelias (moon jellies), I have had a few run-ins with them while snorkeling or diving. So when I saw the exhibit for the first time in the Houston Zoo with the black light I was enthralled to say the least. I never really got around to shooting them...with the glare on the tank and the crowds of parents and their children bumping into me there was no way I would ever attempt that low light shot. Then I read a article in photography magazine where they said not to be afraid to set up your gear. So with my monopod in hand I tried...I aimed for the part of tank with the least amount of glare and focused to the best of my ability, pushed my ISO to 2000 and shot. The one thing that amazed me...the space people give you when you got a DSLR mounted a monopod (in my case). You try that shot holding your camera and no one notices you or cares that you are taking a picture. But mount it and you got like a three foot radius around you! Thanks for the challenge. I am seriously looking forward to future ones! Canon 60D, Tameron 75-300mm @ F5.6, Iso: 2000
- Edmundo Carreon



So my Grandfather had moved into our house recently because my Grandmother had passed away. Hes a proud man, who lived all his life in India, raising my father as well as his 3 other siblings. I have never really saw a side of him where he seemed emotionally vunerable, until he came to our house in the US. I saw him standing by the window looking out as if he was very lost and feeling very singular from everyone, so I took my chance to capture it. This was shot on a iPhone 4 using its HDR mode. Though the original picture was not that great, I knew I could enhance the mood with some color correction and a dark border to enhance the spacial context of the photo. Shot on iPhone 4 (HDR).
- Krishna Yalla


Thanks to everyone who took part in this challenge—it takes a lot to put work out there that you might otherwise consider a bit flawed. But honestly, I love the errors in some of these images. They're full of personality that breaks ranks from the stock photography we so often emulate. Enjoy all the photos below and the wallpaper-sized shots on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of photography blog Life, Panoramic and Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.