Happy New Year!

First edited photo of the New Year, a black-bellied whistling duck in southern Louisiana © Dawn Wilson

By Dawn Wilson, NANPA President

Well, 2021 is finally in the books. I am not sure about everyone else, but I am very happy to see it in the rearview mirror. It was a tough year for many, including myself, and in my home state of Colorado it ended with another horrible wildfire. Events like that put life in perspective to remember to spend time with those you love, don’t worry about things and stuff, and treat every moment like it is the most special of your life.

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Camera Trap Surprises

Screenshot of the story as reported by My Modern Met.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

When photographer Jeff Wirth set up a camera trap near his home in Washington state, he was hoping to capture images of wildlife. When he checked his memory card, he got a big surprise. Among the photos of bobcat and other critters, was one of a somewhat larger critter, posing as if in a fashion shoot, as reported by My Modern Met and multiple other outlets.

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How I got the Shot: Spring Flow Through Oirase Gorge

Ponorama photo of a stream flowing through a gorge, coursing over rocks and boulders. Spring Flow Through Oirase Gorge, Aomori, Japan © Alyce Bender
Spring Flow Through Oirase Gorge, Aomori, Japan © Alyce Bender

By Alyce Bender

Some of the most peaceful moments I find in nature are those spent next to the smaller rivers and streams that course through a landscape ensconced in forests, shaded from the open light and giving a sense of seclusion to the experience.  When I was living in northern Japan, the situation was no different. About thirty minutes from my house was one of the most beautiful places to see fall colors in the entire country. For me though, this place was amazing at all times of the year and it gave me a Top 100 photo in NANPA’s 2022 Showcase competition.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a white pelican floating on water with an empty can of Miller High Life beer in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremey Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2021 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Editor’s note: Profiles of Showcase Top 24 photographers, along with their how-I-got-the-shot stories, are typically published on this blog between January and June of each year. But 2021 continues to be anything but typical, and Jeremy Burnham’s 2021 Showcase Judges’ Choice winning image was unexpectedly delayed. We’re thrilled to share his story with you today and will seize the occasion to remind readers that a profile like this on NANPA’s blog is one of the publicity benefits offered to Showcase Top 24 winners. It’s one of many reasons you might want to enter the 2022 Showcase competition. Entries are accepted through 11 p.m. on September 20, 2021. Learn all about it on the Showcase page.

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

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Photo Contest Tips from Past Showcase Winners, Part 1

Sunrise photo of a mountain with flowers in the foreground. Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry, Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges' Choice, Scapes© Geoffrey Schmid
“Penstemon and Paintbrush Tapestry,” Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Washington, 2018 Showcase, Judges’ Choice, Scapes © Geoffrey Schmid

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

NANPA’s 2022 Showcase photography competition is in full swing, with entries accepted right up until 11 p.m. EDT September 20, 2021. It’s one of NANPA’s most popular offerings. Why? Because you get a chance to see how your work measures up to your peers, have your images seen by potential clients, influence people and causes, and maybe win some of the $6,000 in prize money.

Sounds good, right, but where to start? We asked several nature photographers whose images have placed in the Showcase Top 24 in multiple years what are their secrets. How do they approach Showcase? What do they look for in the images they enter? Here’s what they had to say.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Karen Gordon Schulman

Painterly effect applied to image of grasses. Morning Grasses, Yampa River Botanic Park, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Karen Schulman
Morning Grasses, Yampa River Botanic Park, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality © Karen Gordon Schulman

Artist’s statement

Peace, beauty, balance and humor are what I hope my art expresses and how I would like it to affect others.

I feel that Morning Grasses fits my creative philosophy and my mission as a photographic artist and leaves room for the viewer’s interpretation and wonder. I’ve always been interested in alternative styles of creative photography, including hand painting silver prints, Polaroid SX-70 manipulations, digital multiple exposures, and currently, Creative iPhoneography.

I love capturing moments in time with my camera. I am drawn to whatever resonates with my creative soul. I think as much about the design, light, shadow, pattern, texture, or gesture in the image as I do about the subject itself. I search less and let my awareness draw me to what I can use as my canvas, and I often add layering of texture or color to my original image, as I have done with this one.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Anita Ross

Photo of thee burrowing owls. Two are perched on a branch and the third is in the air, flapping its wings. “Burrowing Owls, One Levitating,” San Bernardino County, California, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Birds © Anita Ross
“Burrowing Owls, One Levitating,” San Bernardino County, California, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Birds © Anita Ross

Artist’s statement

I started photographing burrowing owls in 2016. They’ve become one of my favorite subjects. I can’t resist these little characters with all their expressions. After a session, I can’t wait to get home to look through the images to see what I’ve captured. When I got to these three owls, their interactions with each other were amazing, but what really stood out was this little owl showing off his ability to levitate. The two things I strive to capture in an image are emotion and/or moments you wouldn’t be able to see with the naked eye.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Mary Louise Ravese

Close up photo fo lotus blossom seed pod. Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C., Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mary Louise Ravese
Lotus Blossom Seed Pod Resembles an Alien Landscape, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, Washington, D.C., Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other © Mary Louise Ravese

Artist’s statement

While my intention that day was to photograph one of my favorite flowers, lotus blossoms, I like to keep my mind open to whatever opportunities arise. Lotus blossoms, buds, leaves, and spent seed pods are all things I had photographed many times. But this seed pod was in an in-between state I hadn’t ever noticed before. The surface of the seed head seemed like an alien landscape, or some sort of mythical multi-eyed creature. I was fascinated by the textures and shapes and just had to photograph it, even if it was outside my normal subject matter. By isolating just this portion of the seed pod, I’ve made an abstract interpretation of it, adding a sense of mystery about what it could be.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Jeremy Burnham

Photo of a pelican floating in the water with a beer can in its beak. Pelican Not "Living the High Life,"  Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham
Pelican Not “Living the High Life,” Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Conservation © Jeremy Burnham

Artist’s statement

This photo is special to me because it evokes emotion. My goal as a photographer is to capture pictures in such a way that the viewer will feel the same thing I feel at the time of the photo. There are some pictures that I think are great as a photographer, but they don’t resonate with others. I could tell immediately after sharing this picture that it evoked the kind of emotion in others that would help facilitate positive change. It has been used by conservationists throughout Louisiana to help clean up our stormwater collection system and bring attention to our litter and pollution problems.

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Showcase 2021 Winner: Savannah Rose Burgess

Artist’s statement

“Cougar Country,” Photo of a mountain lion leaping down a snow-covered cliff chasing magpies off her kill, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Savannah Rose Wildlife
“Cougar Country,” A mountain lion leaps down a cliff chasing magpies off her kill, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Savannah Rose Wildlife

This experience was one of the most incredible spectacles of nature I have ever witnessed, in some ways fulfilling dreams I have had since I was a child. I have always been fascinated by the mystique of big cats—the more elusive the better. Some of my earliest artistic memories are drawing big cats out of the well-worn photography books I adored, which gave me my initial interest in pursuing wildlife photography. After what had been a slow winter for wildlife sightings, this mountain lion was such a gift to me as she spent about a week of her life in Jackson Hole, feeding on a mule deer she killed during the night. It was of crucial importance to me when I arrived on scene to capture an action shot of this sleek creature as it was a situation I had dreamed of my entire life.

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