Crafting Compelling Captions for Photo Contests, Part I

A young pine marten leaps from one tree to another in my direction. I was shooting out of an open window. Silver Gate, Montana © Patricia McCollom Bauchman
A young pine marten leaps from one tree to another in my direction. I was shooting out of an open window. Silver Gate, Montana © Patricia McCollom Bauchman

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Captions play a critical role in photo contests. You might think that your photograph stands on its own but judges don’t have your knowledge of the circumstances at the moment you pressed the shutter button. The information you provide in your caption can help preemptively answer a judge’s questions or concerns, explain a unique situation you captured, illuminate subtle nuances in your composition, and assuage any trepidations over potential ethical problems. Captions can make or break your photo’s chances in Showcase or any other photo contest.

We’re in the middle of the 2021 NANPA Showcase nature photo competition and hundreds of photographers are combing through their archive to choose which stellar images they want to submit. The quality of submissions has always been outstanding, making the judges’ job difficult. Yet every year we get comments from judges about images with inadequate captions. Don’t let a weak caption give judges a reason to discount your photo!

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 24, 2020

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Patterns in a Dried Mud Flat, Death Valley National Park, California” © Ian Frazier
Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Patterns in a Dried Mud Flat, Death Valley National Park, California” © Ian Frazier

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 24, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

The 2021 NANPA Showcase competition is open! Enter your best photos between now and September 21st and maybe you’ll be featured in next year’s Weekly Wows or, better yet, win a prize! Get all the details on the 2021 NANPA Showcase page.

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Top Seven Tips for Choosing Winning Images for Photo Contests

2021 NANPA Showcase
Time to get your entries ready for NANPA’s 2021 Showcase competition.

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 2021 Showcase photo competition or, for that matter, any other photo competition?

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Photographing Hummingbirds: A Pandemic Escape

Hummingbirds getting ready to migrate. (The right front is an adult male Rufous; the other three appear to be Broad bills.) © Debbie McCulliss
Hummingbirds getting ready to migrate. (The right front is an adult male Rufous; the other three appear to be Broad bills.) f/6.3, 250mm, ISO 640, 1/8000 sec. © Debbie McCulliss

By Debbie McCulliss

On the snowy first couple of weeks of this past spring, to lessen pandemic anxiety, I was thinking of migration—movement from one region to another. It was timely. Epic animal migrations take place every spring. Some of the feats that these animals accomplish, crossing oceans, traveling without stopping, are unthinkable. Their destinations are clear and instinctual.

But this spring was different. People all over the globe were migrating, many without a clear destination, back to their home continent, country, or state, not knowing if, when, or how their lives would be permanently or temporarily altered.

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 17 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Rialto Beach Sunset, Olympic Peninsula, Washington” © Don Larkin
Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Rialto Beach Sunset, Olympic Peninsula, Washington” © Don Larkin

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 17, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

The 2021 NANPA Showcase competition is open! Enter your best photos between now and September 21st and maybe you’ll be featured in next year’s Weekly Wows or, better yet, win a prize! Get all the details on the 2021 NANPA Showcase page.

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A Day at a Lake: Exploring the Hidden Gems of a Common Subject

By F.M. Kearney

There was nothing particularly special about it, and it was completely hidden from view. In order to reach it, you had to walk to the rear of the property and go down a short trail leading to a clearing. The only reason I knew about it was because I Googled the location beforehand. It was just a small lake… so small it didn’t even have a name. Nevertheless, I couldn’t wait to explore it.

Several years ago, my wife and I went on a short, weekend getaway to The Poconos. We stayed at a vacation resort in the town of Bushkill, PA. The resort was best known for its golf course, but I was only interested in one thing… the lake.

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 10, 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Monarchs by the Hundreds, no Thousands!, Wendy Park, Cleveland, Ohio” © Kathryn Cubert
Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Monarchs by the Hundreds, no Thousands!, Wendy Park, Cleveland, Ohio” © Kathryn Cubert

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 10, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

The 2021 NANPA Showcase competition is open! Enter your best photos between now and September 21st and maybe you’ll be featured in next year’s Weekly Wows or, better yet, win a prize! Get all the details on the 2021 NANPA Showcase page.

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From NANPA’s President: August 2020

Dawn Wilson photographing wildlife on the tundra of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
Dawn Wilson photographing wildlife on the tundra of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

By Dawn Wilson

Hi everyone. Thank you for taking a few minutes to read my first post as your president. It is an honor to serve in this role for NANPA for the next year and I am excited about the opportunities that lay before us.

Thank you to all of the outgoing Board members—Andrew Snyder, Don Carter and Gordon Illg—for their dedication to serving on the Board. Thank you to Tom Haxby for doing a tremendous job leading NANPA during the past year. And thank you to all of the past presidents and board members who have kept the NANPA goals alive and flourishing.

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Camera Support: Four tripods and why I use them

A Platypod was set in the middle of the creek to achieve a super low angle. © Bob Coates
A Platypod was set in the middle of the creek to achieve a super low angle. © Bob Coates

By Bob Coates

Steady support for the camera is an important part of making good images. As a professional photographer, I have worked with many support systems over the years from tiny three-legged kit tripods to big studio stands. As I made the transition to nature and wildlife photography my needs evolved towards supports that hold the camera steady yet are relatively light and portable.

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Weekly Wow! Week of August 3, 2020

Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Cape Buffalo in Morning Light, Chobe National Park, Botswana” © Barbara Fleming
Showcase 2020 Top 100 Winner: “Cape Buffalo in Morning Light, Chobe National Park, Botswana” © Barbara Fleming

All of this week’s Weekly Wow! images can be seen in the slideshow on the NANPA homepage at nanpa.org.

The following Showcase images have been selected to appear on the NANPA home page for the week beginning Monday, August 3, 2020.  To view all of the top 250 photographs from NANPA’s 2020 Showcase competition, see the photo gallery on the NANPA website. The 2020 edition of Expressions contains all of the top 250 photos from the Showcase competition as well as interesting and insightful articles. Order your copy here!

Get ready! The 2021 NANPA Showcase competition began Saturday, August 1st! Enter your best photos between now and September 21st and maybe you’ll be featured in next year’s Weekly Wows or, better yet, win a prize! Get all the details on the 2021 NANPA Showcase page.

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