From the Archives: Why Do Photographers Enter NANPA’s Showcase Competition?

Male Lion Attack on Giraffe, 2017 Showcase Judge’s Choice, Mammals © Michael Cohen

There are as many reasons to enter NANPA’s Showcase photo competition as there are photographers.  For some, winning Best in Show or Judge’s Choice serves as an endorsement of their skill, and can be added to their bio and marketing materials.  To others, recognition by the judges is a validation of their devotion to nature photography, a payoff for the years of effort they put into improving their skills.  And, for still others, selection of their photo is both a personal triumph as well as a challenge; applause for how far they’ve come and a challenge to continue getting better.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Jennifer Leigh Warner

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: "Grizzly 399 Attempts to Cross the Road” © Jennifer Leigh Warner
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: “Grizzly 399 Attempts to Cross the Road” © Jennifer Leigh Warner

How I Got the Shot

I photographed Grizzly 399 crossing the highway with a horde of photographers watching in the background as part of a project involving ecotourism and the pressure that it puts on wildlife. I had envisioned this image for some time now and, while I was in Wyoming for the NANPA Nature Celebration, I got the opportunity I was looking for. Grizzly 399 is famous for spending much of her time close to the road. I knew she would make for the perfect subject for this project. I created the image by making sure I was on the opposite side of the road as the rest of the crowd and then when the moment she crossed I lined myself up in the middle of the road to focus on the crowd.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Sharon Wada

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other: "Smashing Mantis Shrimp Holding Eggs” © Sharon Wada
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other: “Smashing Mantis Shrimp Holding Eggs” © Sharon Wada

How I Got the Shot

Underwater photography is a balancing act of patience, awareness and readiness, not to mention the “minor” details of hauling a huge housing around while managing buoyancy, current, depth, air supply, divers, etc. When an elusive mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus) pops up for a few seconds from a coral crevasse, one has to be quick.

In addition to its beautiful mass of well-developed eggs, this shrimp shows a hint of the “ribbon” in which they are laid. The shrimp folds these layers and masterfully tucks them underneath its body. Seeing this ribbon was a first for me and a special moment in our tropical seas.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Betty Sederquist

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: "Bear Altercation © Betty Sederquist
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: “Bear Altercation” © Betty Sederquist

How I Got the Shot

This was taken at a bear rescue center called Fortress of the Bear in Sitka, Alaska. I was shooting from a catwalk above the bears looking down into a spacious enclosure. These bears were in a pond. I added painterly effects later.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Don Larkin

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Scapes: "Icebergs on Diamond Beach” © Don Larkin
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Scapes: “Icebergs on Diamond Beach” © Don Larkin

How I Got the Shot

It is a simple life for an iceberg in Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Iceland.  It is born from a nearby glacier, and slowly gets pushed out to sea, only to find its way back home to retire on the same black sandy beach from where it came. On this morning, the sun rose underneath a layer of clouds, with the sunlight shining through the icebergs and illuminating the different colors and shapes.  I waited for the waves to approach to show the motion of the water, and the arrival of the icebergs.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Stan Bysshe

Red-winged blackbird perched on a branch with breath visible on a cold morning. Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Birds: " Red-winged Dragon” © Stan Bysshe
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Birds: ” Red-winged Dragon” © Stan Bysshe

How I Got the Shot

Early spring in my local Northern Virginia wetlands park is a great time to shoot these territorial male Red-winged Blackbirds. At first light, the displaying birds are backlit and, if it is cold enough and bright enough, you can see the breath of the singing bird.  The problem is a black moving subject, backlit, in low light, so there is always a tradeoff between shutter speed and ISO. For me, there is a lot of trial and error involved. The good news is that the blackbirds are relentless in defending their territory. For the 15-20 minutes that the light is perfect, there are usually multiple photo ops.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Wiebe Gortmaker

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Mammals: "Bighorn Huddle” © Wiebe Gortmaker
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Mammals: “Bighorn Huddle” © Wiebe Gortmaker

How I Got the Shot

In late January, on the way from Denver to Yellowstone National Park, some friends and I stopped in Jackson Hole for the night. Driving up the east side of the National Elk Refuge just out of town we came across a herd of 30 – 40 bighorn sheep. In late afternoon diffused light I found these four rams about to do some head-butting. Quickly setting up my new 600mm lens on my tripod I was able to grab a few frames before two of them separated and began jousting. The other two went back to grazing.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Emma Balunek

Photo of prairie dog in front of construction. Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: "New Neighbors in Town” © Emma Balunek.
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Conservation: “New Neighbors in Town” © Emma Balunek.

How I Got the Shot

An urban prairie dog colony near downtown Fort Collins was scheduled for relocation. Construction of new apartments had begun. I knew an excavator would be coming to dig up part of the colony. I drove to the site every day to check on the excavator because I wanted to make a picture of a prairie dog with the excavator in the background to tell the story of development and urban prairie dogs. Finally, the excavator was in the perfect spot. I identified a burrow, set out my camera with a remote trigger, and waited until a prairie dog stood on that burrow.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Tom Myers

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other: "Cerambycid Beetle, Belize, Central America” © Tom Myers
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Macro/Micro/All Other: “Cerambycid Beetle, Belize, Central America” © Tom Myers

How I Got the Shot

I was on a trip to Belize to photograph insects and other arthropods in the rainforest. This beetle had flown in and landed by a light near where I was staying. Due to the high humidity, I was having problems with lens fogging. The dark background is the blackness of the rainforest at night. I was using a diffused macro flash to shoot. I set up a flash behind the beetle to separate it from the dark background. After a couple of shots, the beetle decided to take flight. I was able to get the photo of it as the beetle got ready to takeoff.

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Showcase 2020 Winner Profile – Lisa Jansen

Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: "Bursting with Color” © Lisa Jansen.
Showcase 2020 Judges’ Choice, Altered Reality: “Bursting with Color” © Lisa Jansen.

How I Got the Shot

Great Blue Herons don’t usually visit our small Wisconsin Lake, so this was a pleasant surprise.  It was early morning as I take my usual kayak ride on the lookout for nature’s wonders.  As I came around the bend, there he was, standing tall and proud amongst the reeds.  He stood still as a statue as I positioned myself according to the light, determined appropriate camera settings, and captured the shot.  My concern was to get a well-focused, close shot without disturbing him and with a zoom lens and crop sensor, I was able to accomplish this.

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