It’s not hard to find a stressor these days—a global pandemic, new work conditions, virtual school, socialization restrictions, economic uncertainty, raging wildfires, and election drama, just to name a few. Fortunately—and no surprise to nature photographers—research suggests that being in nature dramatically reduces feelings of anger, fear, and stress.
But nature photographers may have
another edge in these complex times. Scientists also say that you don’t have to be in nature to reap its benefits. Simply looking at images of open spaces with natural elements such as vegetation can not only relieve anxiety, improve mood, and boost feelings of happiness but also reduce our physical response to stress—lower heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and sweat production, for example.
So perhaps now more than ever, the world needs nature photos. We can help.
The NANPA Showcase is an annual photo competition that recognizes the best nature images produced by NANPA members, including both hobbyists and professional photographers, in six distinct categories. More than 3,750 images were submitted to the 2021 competition earlier this fall. Winners placing in the Top 250 are presented below by category.
Winners in the Top 100 and Top 24, including the Best in Show awards, will be published next month.
2021 Showcase Top 250, Scapes
The “Scapes” category encompasses landscapes, plantscapes, seascapes, atmosphere, weather, and more.
Clouds Reflecting on Lake Surface as Seen from a Kayak, Vega State Park, Collbran, Colorado © Debbie Tubridy Rojo: A Dramatic Flowerscape of English Poppies, Nottingham, England © Scott Wilson Sunrise with Saharan Dust in the Air, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Brazoria County, Texas © Tim Timmis Ancient Camel Thorn “Ghost Trees” and Fog, Dead Vlei, Namibia © Wendy Kaveney Celestial Dance above a Silent Tower in the Desert, Utah © Peter Nestler Blue Ridge Parkway Sunset After Storm, Glassmine Falls Turnout, North Carolina © Susanna Euston Long Exposure Lightning Shot, Clermont, Florida © Steven Long Summer Stream below the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina © Mark Hoyle Thor’s Well beneath a Dramatic Red Sunset, Yachats, Oregon © Scott Wilson Bull Moose Stare Down, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming © Deena Sveinsson Wildflowers Cover Hillsides During 2017 Super Bloom, Carrizo Plain National Monument, California © Rob Badger A 45 Image, Multi-Row Panorama of the Alaskan Coastal Mountain Range, Juneau, Alaska © Peter Nestler Islands in the Stream: Sunset over the Channel Islands, Ventura State Beach, Ventura, California © Russ Bishop Sturm und Drang of King Tide Waves, Cape Disappointment State Park, Washington © William Sutton Wispy Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, California © Michael Shane Solar Eclipse on August 21, 2017, Red Fish Lake, Idaho © Mark Hayward Protecting 108 Acres Through My Photography, Hocking Hills Eastern Reserve, Ohio © Kathryn Cubert Valley Oak Tree Silhouetted against Spring Leaves, Rancho Canada del Oro, Santa Clara County, California © Judy Kramer Night Sky Just after Sunset, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona © Irene Reti Backlit Sonoran Desert Majesty, Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona © Geoffrey Schmid Foggy Morning Sunrise at Lake Mulwala, Yarrawonga, Victoria, Australia © Garry Everett Clearing Storm on Combers Beach, Pacific Rim National Park, Canada © Robert Nowak Olympic Sunrise, Olympic National Park, Washington © Don Larkin Early Morning Fog Surrounding Cypress Trees, Horseshoe Lake, Madison County, Illinois © David Hammond Morning Run on the Beach in the Fog, Monterey, California © Curt Tipton A Meteorological Phenomenon Called Virga, Clyde Park, Montana © Charlotte Caldwell Sunrise Through the Old Tree, Malvern Hill, Richmond, Virginia © Barbara Houston Valley View Panorama, Yosemite National Park, California © Alice Cahill 2021 Showcase Top 250, 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 courtship rituals, nesting, and family vignettes, the winning images prove both beautiful and informative.
Snowy Egret Thrashing Around Chasing Prey, Lakewood, Colorado © Peter Ismert Graceful Arctic Tern, Anchorage, Alaska © Linda Burek Common Gallinules in Courtship Allopreening, Bailey Tract, J. N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, Florida © Teri Franzen Threatened Least Terns Captured from a Distance with 1200 mm Lens, Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood, Florida © Mary Lundeberg American Goldfinch Picking Thistledown, Renton, Washington © Don Larkin Two Male Baltimore Orioles Squabble, Warren, Pennsylvania © Sandra Rothenberg Greater Sage Grouse Breeding Display, Northern Colorado © Peter Ismert Roseate Spoonbill in Flight with Nesting Material, Fellsmere, Florida © Peter Brannon Blue-Footed Booby Takeoff, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador © Patrick Pevey Least Tern Fledgling in Flight, Deerfield Beach, Florida © Michael J. Cohen Common Loon Diving in search of Food for Its Chicks, Michigan © Marie Read The one that got away! Traverse City, Michigan © Laurie Anderson An Acorn Woodpecker Greets New Arrivals, Santa Cruz, California © Kevin Lohman Bluejay and Baltimore Oriole Surprise Each Other, Warren, Pennsylvania © Sandra Rothenberg Monogamous Tropicbird Pair’s Ritualized Courtship Flight, Northeast Coast, Bermuda Island © Kathy West Royal Tern Lands in the Mouth of Another Royal Tern, Fort Desoto, Florida © Judylynn Malloch A Fiery-Throated and a Talamanca Hummingbird feed on a Ericaceae Flower, Costa Rica © Cindy Jones Short-Eared Owl Flyby, San Luis Obispo County, California © Alice Cahill Pied-Billed Grebe on the Run, Palm Beach County, Florida © Michael J Cohen Greater Roadrunner Catching Butterflies, Starr County, Texas © Hector D. Astorga Majestic Bald Eagle in Search of Prey, Matheson Island, Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada © Hans Arnold American Bittern Crossing the Road, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, California © Eleanor Briccetti Sky Dance: Two Great Kiskadees in Aerial Ballet, Hidalgo County, Texas © E Darrell Crisp Western Grebes Rush across the Surface of a Lake Aglow from the Smoke of California Wildfires, Santa Margarita Lake, California © Donald Quintana Great Gray Owl in Flight, Montana © David Armer White-Fronted Woodpeckers Play King of the Hill, near Sucre, Bolivia © Corey Raffel Anhinga Scores! Southern Louisiana © Cissy Beasley Western Grebe Returns to Nest and Enters by Leaping, Pyramid Lake, Nevada © Carol Grenier Ferocious Sharp-Shinned Hawk Takes a Northern Bobwhite, Upper Texas Coast © Brian E. Small Little Green Bee-eater Landing on a Log, Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India © Barbara White Western Bluebird Mid-Air Courting Ritual, Bonny Doon, California © Jodi Frediani Vigilant Female Harpy Eagle Protects Two-Week Old Chick, Roraima, Brazil © Barbara Fleming Black-Browed Albatross in High Key, Falkland Islands © Amy Marques Open Wide, San Luis Obispo County, California © Alice Cahill Sandhill Crane and Snow Geese Migration, Rowe Sanctuary, Gibbon, Nebraska © Adriana Greisman 2021 Showcase Top 250, Mammals
This category includes all types of mammals, including marine mammals.
Perfect Daybreak Conditions for This Juvenile Red Fox, Cherokee County, Oklahoma © Ron Day Coyote Intimidating a Field Rat before Devouring It, Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas © Tim Timmis Alaska Coastal Brown Bear Nursing Spring Cub, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska © Peter Hartlove Humpback Whale Breaching, Frederick Sound, Alaska © Dee Langevin American Mink Mom Brings a Fish to Her Young, Norfolk, Virginia © Jane Scott Norris A Grizzly Sow Traveling through the Snow, Bridger-Teton National Forest, Jackson WY © Savannah Burgess Two Young Kudu Bulls at Sunset, South Africa © Kevin Dooley Southern Elephant Seal Pups Huddle against the Bulk of Their Mothers, Salisbury Plains, South Georgia © Vicki Santello Long-Tailed Weasel Coming Right at Ya! Sonoma County, California © Sarah Killingsworth Photography Grizzly 399 with 4 Cubs in a Snow Storm, Pilgrim Creek, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming © Tom Ingram Young Leopard Captures a Monitor Lizard, Chobe River, Chobe National Park, Botswana © Patrick Pevey Yellow-Bellied Marmot, Wood River Wetlands, Chiloquin, Oregon © Peter Hartlove Lamb Sails over a Huge Jack Fence in Pursuit of Mom and the Bighorn Sheep Herd, Paradise Valley, Montana © Patricia Bauchman Red Fox Hunting for Voles and Mice, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming © Melissa Anne Usrey Young Female Bengal Tiger on the Prowl, Ranthambore National Park, India © Christopher Ciccone Tiny Brown Bear Cub Surveys His New World, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska © Marv Binegar A Bobcat Kitten Captured by Camera Trap, Carmel Valley, California © Luciane Coletti A Leopard Stalks a Young Zebra, Botswana © Kevin Dooley Female Gorilla Screams at Approaching Male, Rwanda © Kathleen Reeder Jaguar Under the Roots, Porto Jofre, Pantanal, Brazil © Jorge Cazenave Humpback Whale Mother and Calf, Vava’u, Tonga © Jodi Frediani A Chase at Sunset: Polar Bear Cubs Play, Barter Island, Alaska © Jennifer Smith Drama in the Crater: Wildebeest, Newborn Calf and Golden Jackal, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania © James Ramakka Subadult Brown Bear Catches a Salmon, Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park, Alaska © James Picardi Brown Bear Walking Along the Coastline, Southwestern Alaska © Kevin Dooley Mother Cheetah and Cubs Warming Themselves Atop a Termite Mound, Serengeti, Tanzania © James Heupel Plains Zebra with Young, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya © Hector D. Astorga American Red Squirrel Getting a Drink in a Beaver Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine © George Sanker Humpback Whales Bubble Net Feeding in Icy Strait, Hoonah, Alaska © Frank Zurey Bobcat Hunting along the Madison River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming © Carol Grenier Baboon Family Huddles Together, Lake Nakuru, Kenya © Donna Eaton Impala Herd on the Run from a Leopard, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya © Don Kellett Leopard Cub Looking up at His Mom up in a Tree, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya © Anita Ross Black Bear Mother is Playing with Her Yearling Cub, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming © Gero Heine Photography LLC Red Foxes Gather for a Family Portrait, San Luis Obispo, California © Donald Quintana Killer Whale Bull and Cow Feeding on Herring, Waters off Vestmannaeyjar Islands, Iceland © David Rein Female Cheetah Surveying the Landscape from an Acacia Tree, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania © Secret Sea Visions Japanese Macaque: Mother: Infant Interaction, Jigokudani Monkey Park, Yamanouchi, Japan © Ann Gillis Lioness with Tiny Cubs Hiding, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya © Anita Ross Red Fox Vixen Bringing Home Dinner, San Luis Obispo, California © Donald Quintana 2021 Showcase Top 250, 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.
Coneflower In-camera Double Exposure, Cleveland Metro Parks, Ohio. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Randall Dunn Rising Like a Phoenix from the Ashes—a Snow Goose, Bosque del Apache NWR, New Mexico © Ron Day Cover crop species planted to protect and regenerate the soil and feed pollinators, photographed on a light table, Stone Barns Center, NY. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Elijah Goodwin Tri-Colored Heron and a Skimmer, composite from multiple images, Viera Wetlands, Florida. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Cheryl Medow Ross’s Geese Taking Off at Dusk, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, San Joaquin Valley, California © Rob Badger Tulip photo layered with image from a swimming pool, Rhode Island. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality (Non-Traditional Capture) © Melissa Fraser Snowy egret, composite of multiple images, Malibu Lagoon, California. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Cheryl Medow Running to Catch Up—Elephant Youngster, Original photograph processed in Lightroom, textured effects applied in Photoshop, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Marty Purdy Pelican’s Night Out, Tenkiller Reservoir, Oklahoma © Ron Day Orb of a Coastal Wood Fern, Monte Bello Open Space, Santa Clara County, California © Judy Kramer At the Watering Hole—Burchell’s Zebra, Original photograph processed in Lightroom, textured effect applied in Photoshop, Etosha National Park, Namibia, Africa. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Marty Purdy Out of Africa—Majestic Lion Pair, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Jennifer Gregory O’Donnell Doe in Springtime Flowers, modifications done in Photoshop and Corel Painter, Northern Nevada. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Jan Lightfoot The Ballerina—Juvenile Roseate Spoonbill, Original photograph processed in Lightroom, background effects in Photoshop, Jensen Beach, Florida. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Marty Purdy Multiple exposure of a standing wave at the top of a waterfall, Bog River Falls, Tupper Lake, NY. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Elijah Goodwin Painterly Great Egret Displaying Breeding Colors, Grand Lake, Oklahoma. 2021 Showcase Top 250, Altered Reality © Ron Day 2021 Showcase Top 250, 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.
Succulent Abstract, Amsterdam, Netherlands © Wendy Kaveney Blue Ribbon Eel, Lembeh, Indonesia © Tony Frank Freshly Emerged Cicada, Sapelo Island, Georgia © Steven Long Ventral Scales of a Desert Spiny Lizard at 5x Magnification, Tucson, Arizona © Scott Trageser Colorful Clownfish or Damselfish Living in an Anemone for Protection, Papua Guinea © Roger Johnson Mating Lantern Bugs Make a Push-Me-Pull-You Creature, TaiMoShan Mountain, Hong Kong © Robert Ferguson Small Ecosystem in Brookside Gardens, Silver Spring, Maryland © Richard Pelroy A Blue Dasher Dragonfly Perches Cooperatively, Tampa, Florida © Peter Brannon Land Iguana Eating Large Mouthfuls of Juicy Cactus, Plaza Islas, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador © Kathy West Pre-Dawn Light Highlights Artistic Ice, Steamboat Springs, Colorado © Karen Vail Halictua ligatus Female on a Blanketflower, Ferndale, Michigan © Joseph Ferraro Red-Eyed Tree Frog, Arenal, Costa Rica © Jim Burns Painted Lady Butterfly Feeding on Desert Blooms, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California © Jim Mohler Green Phase Eyelash Viper, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica © Jim Ramakka Gerbera Daisy Bloom Reflecting in Water Droplets, The Woodlands, Texas © Cynthia Lockwood Jagged Ambush Bug Nymph on Blanketflower, Ferndale, Michigan © Joseph Ferraro Hanging Flower Shot with Lensbaby Optic, Ormond Beach, Florida © Jackie Kramer Shape-Shifting Blue-Ringed Octopus Displaying it’s Pulsating Rings, Lembeh Straits, Indonesia © Cameron Azad Goldenrod Crab Spider Shedding Skin, Ayden, North Carolina © Anne Grimes Two Cuttle Fish Mating, Lembeh, Indonesia © Tony Frank 2021 Showcase Top 250, 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.
The Last Preserve: Tiny Natural Area in the Midst of Warehouses and Industrial Development, London, England © Thomas Simpson There’s a Message in the Trash, Rio Salado Audubon Center, Phoenix, Arizona © Shane Morrison Tibetan Macaque at a Poor-Quality ‘Rescue’ Facility, China © Scott Trageser Wild Pelican Unable to Eat a Pleco, Jurong, Singapore © Robert Ferguson Free-Roaming Domestic Cats Kill Billions of Birds and Mammals Each Year, Oceanside, California © Nicollet Overby Victim of a Shipstrike: Blue Whale Fetus Expelled from Mother, Bean Hollow State Beach, Pescadero, California © Jodi Frediani Inquisitive Nestling Burrowing Owls, Mountain Home, Idaho © Jim Shane Too Young to Drink: Tule Elk with Litter, Elk Meadow, Redwood National Park, California © Jane Scott Norris Archenemies: The Manatee and the Motorboat, Crystal River, Florida © James Beissel A Shark Finning camp with Hundreds of Fins Laying out to Dry, Punta Hughes, Isla Magdalena, Mexico © Bill Klipp The Loss of Two Bushbuck, Maasai Mara, Kenya © Alison M. Jones 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.
Come back to
nanpa.org on December 2 to see the 2021 Showcase Top 100 images.