Meet the Photo Contest Judges: Cynthia Drescher

Our photo contest has come to a close and our judges, Cynthia Drescher, Cole Rise and Casey Anderson are hard at work choosing a winner – a daunting task to be sure!  You already know Casey – over the next couple of days we’ll be sharing more about the other two folks who are pouring over your every photo.  Starting with….

Cynthia Drescher – Managing Editor at Conde Nast’s When not uploading her photos (iPhone only!) from around the world to Instagram (say hello at @Jaunted), Cynthia also spends her time 100′ underwater on scuba dives, 35,000′ above the arctic on a direct to HKG, and at sea level, doing crossword puzzles in the corner booth at her local diner.

NGC:  Favorite Instagram filter?
CD:  I have soft spots for Sutro and Hudson, but my favorite has to be Sierra. It’s the newest of the filters, with what I think is the most universally flattering frame. If I’m just not happy with what the other filter choices do to a photo, Sierra’s usually the answer. Bonus points for its ability to add a little fade to the photo, which happily masks some of the harshness that comes from adding the “Lux” enhancement.

NGC:  Dream destination or favorite hidden gem of the Americas?
CD:  Some day I will make it all the way down, way way down to Ushuaia. There’s something about hitting the ends of the Earth that attracts me, and Ushuaia is the last stop in the Americas before Antarctica.

NGC:  Travel advice or wisdom?
CD:  Put the same thought into choosing a carry-on luggage as you would into buying a new electronic device. Look that it’s a fit for your personality as well as being durable and functional, all accomplished within the lines of clean design. The jury’s still out on whether 2- or 4-wheels is better, but I always say a hard case wins the race.

NGC:  Favorite scene of Untamed Americas?  Why?
CD:  There’s a few minutes where an animal makes its first television debut. It’s a bat that eats the nectar of a certain rare, high-altitude flower of the Andes Mountains. The scene, which happens in slo-mo, gets right up at that bat as it flaps its wings and dives its head deep down into the flower. The bat’s tongue is 3.5″ long and looks a bit like an octopus tentacle, and the camera doesn’t miss any angle. It’s gross and awesome, a little sensual but very thought-provoking. How crazy is it that the world has evolved these two, so very different things, to live in such a perfectly symbiotic relationship in the farthest corner of the mountains? Whoa.

NGC:  What can’t you live without when on the road?
CD:  I hate to say it, but it’s my phone, though I rarely use it to actually place calls these days. My phone is my backup camera, my main camera when it comes to Instagram, my map, my guide, my notes and, generally, my connection to the world I know in an environment I don’t.

NGC:  Your ideal travel partner is…..
CD:  If we’re talking fantasy travel partners, it’s Carmen Sandiego. Girl gets around! And she does it all with a chic red hat, trenchcoat and trademark red lips. In the real world, my ideal travel partner right now is my brother, since I absolutely do the big sis bossing around. I flew him to Wales last summer just to drive me around, since he’s a certified automotive technician who can expertly zoom with a manual transmission on the “wrong side of the road,” while still pointing out every make and model of car passing by.

NGC:  Your most awe-inspiring moment in nature along your travels (in the Americas)?
CD:  Anyone who’s ever made the famous bus crossing over the Andes Mountains between Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina will agree that it’s up there as far as weird, “what turns in my life have led me to be in this spot right now?” status.  After switchbacking through 30 hairpin turns in the Christo Redentor Pass and spotting Aconcagua (the highest mountain peak in the Americas), my bus pulled up to the border crossing, which is little better than a giant metal tent in the middle of mountainous nowhereland. The temperature had dropped over 30 degrees since leaving Santiago, the sky was the type of pure blue you usually only see after clearing the clouds on a flight, and yet–in this wild place–there is the height of rules and bureaucracy in the form of the infuriating immigration lines for Chile and Argentina. I just stood, eating a lomito sandwich beneath a flapping Argentinian flag, attempting to take in all the colors and textures in this environment. A passport stamp out, a passport stamp in, and the bus continued through the jagged landscape.


  1. […] Meet the Photo Contest Judges: … Jun. 20, 2012 (0) Nat Geo TV Blogs » […]

  2. […] wait is over!  After much deliberation, our judges Casey Anderson, Cole Rise and Cynthia Drescher have chosen a winner for our Untamed Americas Instagram Photo Contest.  It was no easy task, I […]