More Nature Images to the Rescue: 2021 Showcase Top 100

In November we revealed a subset of the Top 250 images from our annual photo competition, reminding the world that being in nature—and even simply looking at images of nature—reduces anxiety and stress. This month we’re unveiling more wow-worthy images by some of North America’s most accomplished nature photographers.

The images featured below are winners in the Top 100 of the 2021 NANPA Showcase. The Top 24, including Best in Show awards, will be published in mid-December.

Showcase is an annual photo competition that recognizes the best nature images produced by NANPA members, including both hobbyists and professional photographers. More than 3,750 images were submitted to the 2021 competition earlier this fall.

2021 Showcase Top 100, Scapes

The “Scapes” category encompasses landscapes, plantscapes, seascapes, atmosphere, weather, and more.

  • Passing Cars Light Paint Boulders, image by Ian S. Frazier
  • Cloud Surge, White Sands National Park, image by Tim Bryan
  • Spring flowers in Yosemite National Park, image by Russ Bishop
  • The Aurora Borealis over a Glacier, Juneau, Alaska, image by Peter Nestler
  • Frozen Reflection of El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, image by Michael Shane
  • Solar Eclipse, Red Fish Lake, Idaho, image by Mark Hayward
  • Wetland Reeds, image by Irene Reti
  • Reflections in Small Pools on Beach, Three Sisters, New Zealand © Ian S. Frazier
  • Hidden Lake Overview Alternative View in Glacier National Park, image by Christopher de Souza
  • White Dome Geyser Erupts With Aurora and Milky Way, image by Don Grall
  • Elowah Falls, Columbia Gorge, Oregon, image by Don Larkin
  • Peak Fall Colors along the SeongJae-Gil Trail, image by Geoffrey Schmid
  • Light Painting at Arch Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, image by Ian S. Frazier

2021 Showcase Top 100, Birds

Birds have long been a favorite subject for nature photographers, and Showcase is rich with examples why. From birds-in-flight and feeding behavior to nesting and territorial disputes, the winning images prove both beautiful and informative.

  • Indigo Bunting on a Yellow Flower, image by Stan Bysshe
  • Buff-Collared Nightjar on Limb with Wings Spread, image by Brian E. Small
  • Wood Duck Landing with Sky Background, image by Carol Grenier
  • Pair of Catbirds in My Backyard Apple Tree, image by Sandra Rothenberg
  • American White Pelican Landing in the Truckee River, image by Carol Grenier
  • Royal Tern Chased by a Laughing Gull, image by Michael J Cohen
  • Male Allen's Hummingbird Stretches and Shows off, image by Corey Raffel
  • Prairie Warbler On Limb with Insect Flying Nearby, image by Grace Scalzo
  • Two Rufous Hummingbirds in Dispute, image by Jim Ramakka
  • Two Crested Caracaras Battle, image by Kim Meisinger
  • Female Baltimore Oriole Selects Horsehair for Nesting Material, image by Sandra Rothenberg
  • A Dozen Black Vultures Vie for Space on Pilings, image by Kirsten Hines
  • Northern Hawk Owl Hunkered Down in Snow Flurries, image by Mary Lundeberg
  • Least Tern Faceoff with Fish, image by Michael J Cohen
  • A Snail Kite Rises with an Apple Snail, image by William Pully
  • Three Willets Making Tracks on Beach, image by Steven Long
  • A Female Baltimore Oriole Strikes a Pose on a Sunflower, image by Sandra Rothenberg
  • Male Snail Kite in Flight, image by Nancy Elwood
  • Snowy Owl on a Post against a Pink Sunset Sky, image by Michael J Cohen

2021 Showcase Top 100, Mammals

This category includes all types of mammals, including marine mammals.

  • Two Lion Cubs Playfully Biting Mother's Tail, image by Yaron Schmid
  • Ermine standing on hind legs in snow, image by Fi Rust
  • Wildebeest jumping into river with others already in water below, image by Vicki Jauron
  • Family of otters piled on top on one another, image by Savannah Rose Wildlife
  • Spotted Hyena Cub Nursing, image by Michael Milicia
  • Harbor Seal and Pup resting on ice, image by Mark Kelley
  • Mother Cheetah Protecting Cubs while Drinking, image by Kevin Dooley
  • Silhouette of Bull Elk Outlined in Light, image by Dawn Wilson Photography
  • Young Rhino Seems to Shed a Tear Standing Next to Adult Rhino, image by Barbara Fleming
  • Bobcat Playing with Prey, image by Deborah Roy
  • An Illusion of Endangered Grevy's Zebra, image by Yaron Schmid
  • Mother bear eating whale while cubs nearby, image by Jennifer Smith
  • Two Sea Lions Swimming Closely Underwater, image by Bill Klipp
  • Surprised-looking squirrel on hind legs on metal plant or bird feeder hook, image by Svetlana VanKempen
  • Two elephants in the distance in sunset, image by Vicki Jauron
  • Pika Leaping in Sierra Nevada Mountains, image by Alice Cahill

2021 Showcase Top 100, Macro/Micro/All Other Wildlife

This category includes images of non-bird, non-mammal wildlife as well as close-ups of any subject. Close-ups are intimate views, tightly framed, or close examinations of subjects in nature.

  • Mature frog approaching eggs, image by Karthik Arasalai Kalyana Sundaram
  • Lion's Mane Jellyfish Moves through a Moon Jellyfish Smack, Port Fidalgo, Valdez, Alaska © Jennifer Idol
  • Cactus Close-Up, image by Charles Needle
  • False Clown Anemonefish and Magnificent Anemone Tentacles, image by Matthew Meier
  • Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, image by Hector D. Astorga
  • Diamondback Water Snake Eating American Bullfrog, image by Nick Kanakis
  • Apple Snail Laying Eggs, image by William Sutton
  • Banded Crab Spider and Honey Bee Prey, image by Robert Ferguson
  • Pink Puckered Lips, image by Jim Squires
  • Chevron Manta Ray, San Benedicto Island, Mexico © Matthew Meier
  • Spider Shedding Exoskeleton, image by Larry Litke
  • Snake hanging from leaves, image by Cissy Beasley
  • Spring Flowers, image by Steve Whisnant
  • Black-Speckled Palm-Pit Viper, Costa Rica © Cathy DesRochers
  • Spectacular Waterlilies, image by Adriana Greisman

2021 Showcase Top 100, Altered Reality

The unconventional “Altered Reality” category may be confusing to some. All images in this category are designated as “photo illustrations,” indicating that they display a change in natural color, form, shape or any combination of these that deny the photographic process. The images haven been enhanced or transformed beyond the way the subjects appear in nature.

  • Altered image of a great blue heron with chicks by Cheryl Medow
  • Altered image of Mushroom in the Mist by Frank Clemmensen
  • Altered image of many cranes by Thomas Yackley
  • Altered image of a lilac-breasted roller taking flight by Christopher Ciccone
  • Altered image With Cat's Eye and Beaded Water on Glass by Melissa Fraser
  • Altered Image of Human Hand on Endangered Bird by Jim Shane
  • Altered Reality image of snowy egret in six different positions, image by Bob Coates
  • Dead tree full of colorful birds and other wildlife, by Thomas Yackley


2021 Showcase Top 100, Conservation

The conservation category was added to Showcase in 2020 and recognizes images that illustrate a conservation issue—positive or negative—and the value of conserving a species, place, or ecosystem for the benefit of wild and/or human communities. Entries in this category cannot be designated as photo illustrations—nothing added, removed, or altered. Click on an image below to view it in full.

  • Condominiums Loom over Juvenile Manta Ray, image by Bryant Turffs
  • Field of tree stumps, Kingston Plains, image by Tom Haxby
  • Threatened Western Snowy Plover Settles down her Eggs with residences in background, image by Joshua Asel
  • Girls Petting a Frightened Newborn California Sea Lion Pup as It Tries to Escape, image by Jennifer Warner
  • Endangered Greater Adjutant Storks Atop Boragaon Landfill, image by Carla Rhodes

About Showcase

NANPA’s annual Showcase competition began in 2005. In 16 years, the competition has recognized more than 800 of North America’s most accomplished nature photographers. Nearly 2,500 photographers have entered the competition during that time.

Winning images are published each year in NANPA Expressions, a full-color journal that also includes articles on a wide variety of topics within nature photography, written by nature photographers for nature photographers. NANPA members can access free digital editions of Expressions dating back to 2011 in the Members Area of nanpa.org.

Past digital and print editions of Expressions are also available for sale. The new 2021 edition will be released in late winter.

Collage of Expressions journal cover images

Come back to nanpa.org on December 16 to see the 2021 Showcase Top 24 prize-winning images.