It was THAT kind of day in Austin on Sunday - PERFECT. Springy. Sunny. Breezy. Not too hot. I spent the afternoon at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. This was a close up of one of the water features at the Wildflower Center. I took A LOT of pictures and ended up going with this - because it's kind of how the day felt. f2.8, 1/1600, ISO-80. - Karen Tarlow

I decided that since this contest was called freedom, I would try to photograph something that spoke to me of freedom. I then saw this duck flying over a lake near my house, and thought that worked pretty perfectly. Nikon d5100, nikkor af-s 18-55mm, iso: 100. - Liam Grace-Flood

I was super excited to do this challenge. I dug through the archives and I was sold on the Lego challenge. Needless to say I wanted to buy the new X wing fighter since it was released and this shoot gave me the excuse to get it. Me and my friend (who is also doing this challenge) made a star field back drop. We did some long exposure shots and used some glow sticks for the blasters. The goods used: Camera: Nikon D7000, Lens: Nikor 18-200, Shutter Speed: 30s, F/stop: f/25, ISO: 100. - Marc Haering

I fell in love with macro photography when I saw pictures of waterdrops and bugs up close. I thought this challenge would be the best way to break in my new macro lens. Equipment/specs used for this shot are my Canon 5D2 on a tripod tethered to the Macbook, Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens with MT-24EX macro flash, 100 ISO, 1/200 sec, and at f/11. I used different types of liquids to create the drop: water, saline solution, salt water, and soda. At the end, soda was the winner. A light bulb filament was used for the spring and a folder for my background. - Marc Soriano

I missed out on the "leading lines" shooting challenge, so I thought I would try to do it for this "free for all" week. It has been downright gorgeous in sunny Southern California this weekend with temperatures in the 80s and 90s. I went to our local park with my two boys and had a seat at one of the picnic tables. The view of the Pacific was amazing. I used the picnic table to add some contrast to the stark sky and shimmering ocean. I am really pleased at the angle of the wooden boards and how the black and white makes texture in the photo pop. Canon EOS REBEL T1i, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens 1/400 f/22 18mm ISO 400. - Matthew Johnson

So I was contemplating what to do for this shot when I just so happened to notice a waterdrop photo on some guy's flicker (which I happened to be creeping on). I decided to go for it and ended up with this shot (among 400 others). Camera Settings: Exposure- 1/1000s F Stop- 5.6. Taken with a Canon REBEL XS with 18-55mm kit lens (set to 55mm) and a Canon Speedlite 430EXII. - Matthew Rice

I was coming home from mountain biking Saturday afternoon and I noticed the clouds looked interesting and I thought they would make a good backdrop for something. Since I didn't have much time, the only thing I could think of was our orchid that recently bloomed. I took it out behind our house, put it on a table and took several 3-bracket exposures. It took several tries to get one where the flowers hadn't moved since it was breezy out. I merged them in Photoshop CS5 and made a few adjustments to things like saturation. Nikon D7000, Nikon 18-105mm, Focal Length: 105mm, Aperture: F/22, ISO: 100. - Michael Berman

To find a unique shot of any landscape in NYC can be difficult. My goal with this picture was not only to capture the scene, but to capture time. Normally this would be done with blurred motion, or some other sort of long exposure. This shot was done by taking a 10 picture panoramic over an hour long period in which the sun was going down. When stitched together it shows all the way from the Statue of Liberty as daylight, to the Brooklyn Bridge in the dark. I used a Nikon D90, at ISO 200, with a Tokina 12-24 f/4. The 10 shots were taken at f/16 for 30 seconds. - Michael Litwack

We made plans to visit Joshua Tree, but since we had been there before and the Salton Sea was just an inch below Joshua Tree, on the map, I decided to take the family there instead. Having never been there, we were all very excited. The kids talked about swimming in the water and playing in the sand. I was hoping I would get a chance to do some fishing. We pulled up and saw the water with the mountains in background. It was a beautiful sight. Then we opened the door and the stench of dead fish hit us like a semi. My wife looked at me in disgust and the kids held there noses. Since we were already there I convinced everyone to get out and have a look around. The beach, if you could call it that, was covered with hundreds of dead Talapias. What looked like white sand on the shore, upon closer inspection, were millions, if not billions of fish scales and fish bones! All around the Salton Sea was death... That's when I took this photo. Canon EOS Rebel T2i, f/7.1, 1/200 sec, iso 100. - Neil Hong

Lacking a tripod (and jostling with a mass of tourists wanting to illuminate the Chapel with the flash from their camera phones — you'll notice I couldn't quite get centred..) I was forced to use a larger aperture and higher ISO than I'd have liked on this shot of Trinity College, Cambridge, but I think the atmosphere and austerity of the room is still captured fairly well. Almost directly behind you as you stand in this spot is a statue of Trinity's most famous alumnus, Sir Isaac Newton, and rarely does one have the chance to stand so closely between God and Science! Canon 550D with Canon EF-S 18-135mm @ ISO1000, 18mm, -0.3EV, f3.5, 1/40. - Nick Hale

I took a trip to my local Wildlife Park, about 40 minutes' drive outside Darwin. My mission was to shoot some birds as practice with my zoom lens. It is wet season and it was raining. The Billabong (small lake or section of river cut off from the main part)) is allegedly home to freshwater crocodiles and a large group of Pelicans. I am not sure however if the Pelicans would survive long with crocs around. I liked this shot as the falling rain was leaving bubbles on the surface of the water, in the background it is almost a Bokeh effect. Camera: Pentax K200D Lens: Sigma 70-300mm Zoom set at 300mm, f/8, 1/20 sec, ISO-100. - Nick Smith

This Shot was taken of a Friend of Mine named Kim Hidalgo, I had attempted this as a concept before varying result as its difficult to get people to stay as still as possible for that long of an exposure. But what is the Purple?! One of my Favorite and most dangerous tools, The Wicked Lasers Arctic S3 1000MW Spyder Laser ! It had a Cross-Diffused lens on, Was set to low-Power (100mw), And it was VERY carefully guided through the shot For an exposure of almost 3 minutes. She stayed in each position for a bit longer than the last to make it brighter as we went up keeping her head as still as possible. The Strangest part about this laser, is the the UV From it seems to be converted into some sort of white balance adjustment, making the JPEG a BRIGHT Pink, While the RAW is a DEEP blue. A massively obvious difference. Taken on a T3i, F/11, Exposure was 173 Seconds (She was a champion), ISO-200, Using a Stock 17-55mm Canon Lens, From a Tripod, Using a Remote to start/Stop the exposure. - Reid Godshaw

I just read about taking pictures of items next to lights to make them look like pictures against the sun (or moon) in "Understanding Exposure". So I took a toad on a kart from Mario Kart and put it up against a ceiling light. Took several attempts, but I finally got a good angle that didn't show too much of the marker that was holding the kart up and looked like I did it against the moon. I shot this with my Canon T3i, f/1.8, 1/640 sec exposure, 100 ISO, -2.7 step exposure, on my 50mm fixed lens. - Sanket Shah

For this challenge, I decided to try to photograph water drops. I read a tutorial about Corrie White and water drop photography on DIYPhotography, though I didn't expect to replicate her work. I had to take this outside due to lack of light in the house, and not having a macro lens also added to not coming up with a top quality photo. Basic editing, boosting level/curves, dropped blue saturation, and cloned out some unwanted specs in the water. Hopefully in the future I will have the equipment to make better water drop photography. Nikon D3000 – f/8 – 1/1000 sec. – ISO-200. - Spencer Lund

For this challenge, I was super excited because I'd already planned to head out to Mare Island in Vallejo, CA this weekend with a rented lens for my Nikon D7000. This shot was taken with the Nikon 10-24mm lens and an exposure time of about 1.5 mins at ISO 100. I climbed into the cab of the truck and waved a keychain light around to illuminate the inside of it, which you can sort of see the reflection of in the glass inside the truck. Processed in Lightroom 3. - Steven Wheeler

This shot was during the spring open public practice of UT. I wanted to test my skill at action shots as the light changed from day to evening. This was an early shot with only 1/1000. I enjoy getting a shot of sports as they happen and getting the picture as clear and still as possible. Canon EOS T3i, Canon EF 75-300, f/4-5.6,ISO 3200, 200mm, f/13, 1/1000. - Tim Pautsch

This is a shot of a local mall that is for the most part abandoned. There are a few stores left, but it is not the popular place it used to be. I was out shooting and happened to stop by and take a shot through the elaborate roof that the entrance had. I thought it turned out interesting so I figured might as well submit it. I cropped the
bottom, but otherwise it is straight from the camera. Shot with Canon T1i and 18-55mm kit lens with polarizing filter. - Tim Taylor

Since I shoot film, it usually takes me a couple of weeks to get through a roll. That means that unless I catch a shooting challenge at the very end of a roll I'll miss out on submitting for a challenge. On the other hand, I've been using old photo challenges as a great source of inspiration, doing Unusual Solstices or getting set up to do the Steel Wool challenge and that sort of thing. It was by chance that I just did one inspired by the Fire Challenge a couple of nights ago just as you announced the open challenge. The fire wasn't the main focus of the shot, but my self imposed task was to shoot a portrait with nothing but ambient candle light. And so my friend sat dead still for 30 seconds in a completely dark house surrounded by four candles while I snapped this shot of her. It was shot on Ilford XP2 Super 400 film with my Canon Rebel TI and a Rokinon 35mm F/1.4 lens at F/8. - Tony Case

It's good to shut up sometimes. by Marcel Marceau. Canon T3i, ISO: 100, F-2.8, 1/100 sec. - Tracy Miller

Recently, my friend moved in with me on a whim with the clothes on his back and a bass amp. He's very spontaneous. I caught him wandering my neighborhood by the dumpsters in Ray Bans and a bath robe, and thought it could make for an interesting photo: Simple, black and white, and slightly off. Camera: Canon Rebel Xti, Lens: Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens, ISO: 100, f-stop: f/7.1. - Troy Riemer

This little guy caught my eye as I was returning home from class the other day. He was sitting outside a window sill near my apartment. So, I quickly ran inside, grabbed my camera and carefully approached him. This shot was taken with my telephoto as I was standing about three feet away from him. After I had taken a bunch with that lens, I got my 50mm & 24mm and was amazed he was still there when I came back outside. When I took a closer look in post, I realized that the window had given the photo a nice milky soft focus. He was a very good subject. Canon Rebel T2i, Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM, Focal Length: 200, F #: 4.0, Exposure time: 1/125. - Zachary Durocher