As we approach Thanksgiving, many of us make an inventory of those people and things for which we are grateful. In that list we often find the landscapes and animals and plants that give us such joy when we’re out with our cameras. Not surprisingly, many of the items on our list reside in national parks. But, if we are so grateful for them, what are we doing to protect and preserve them?
Sometimes a really critical piece of a conservation project isn’t the photography, the charismatic megafauna or stunning plants. Sometimes it’s something much more mundane or prosaic, like transcripts.
“If you were alive in 1970, more than one in four birds have disappeared in your lifetime.” So begins a Cornell Chronicle article about a new study by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. That loss represents about three billion birds, across the US and Canada and across all biomes. Researchers examined decades of data on 529 species and found massive declines (53% loss) in the numbers of grasslands birds as well as big drops (37%) in shorebirds. As Ken Rosenberg, lead author of the study said, “It’s a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife. And that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.”
In 2010, as part of the International League of Conservation Photographers’ Chesapeake Bay RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition), I found myself on the Anacostia River in Washington DC. The Anacostia is one of the most imperiled watersheds within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, a sprawling eco-region spanning most of the Mid-Atlantic. The Anacostia is also my home watershed, where the water that drains off my house and yard ends up.
Tonight, at 11 PM Eastern Time, the entry window for NANPA’s Showcase Competition closes. Have you got your entries in or are you a procrastinator? I’ll confess to sometimes waiting until the last minute to get something done. The important thing is actually getting it done. So, the good news is: You still have time. The bad news is: Not much!
It is always amazing to look back through my collection of
older NANPA Expressions magazines (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2018 and 2019) featuring the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition for that year. I may be missing a few years in my collection, but I am sure the photos in those years are incredible too. NANPA has a lot of really, really talented photographers and I am always in awe of the award-winning nature images our members capture. Occasionally, I have been fortunate to have an image place in the top 250 and I always enjoy seeing my photograph along with all of the other spectacular photos.
NANPA’s Showcase competition includes a new category this year: conservation! In addition to birds, mammals, ‘scapes, macro/micro/other and altered reality, you can enter photos that speak to conserving species, ecosystems and places. So get your conservation images ready to enter!
admirers, students, educators and conservators of our natural world, nature photographers strive to capture the essence of both the intimate micro and extraordinary macro. We might photograph creatures on the brink of extinction or landscapes in decay, yet rarely do we include ourselves in the portrayal and definition of “nature”. The presence and influence of humanity on the environment has often been detrimental and, sometimes, it seems that the environment reciprocates with natural disasters. A comparison of resilience, though, reveals that nature has a tendency to prevail over time and will probably continue to do so. Try as we might to build and rebuild in notorious flood zones or to erect dams that reconfigure river systems for our benefit, nature does not just meekly surrender to human desires. It often seems as though adaptation, a fundamental skill for survival for all things living in the natural world, is lost on us.
In a photo contest, everybody wants their entry to win. So, what can you do to maximize your chances of having one (or more) of your photos chosen for recognition in NANPA’s 2020 Showcase Photo Competition or, for that matter, any other photo competition?
Josh Asel started wildlife and conservation photography in 2012 and has transitioned into an award-winning photographer, Ethics Committee Member at NANPA, large carnivore tracker, author, and instructor. He founded Wild Expectations, is represented by Wildscreen, and has appeared on multiple judging panels. Josh’s publications include Defenders of Wildlife, Improve Photography, National Geographic Education, Alaska Airlines Magazine, and The Press Democrat, among others.