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Summer wildlife photography contests underway for all

Selby Gardens photo by Deborah Papineau Gregory-Selby Gardens.jpg
Deborah Papineau Gregory/Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
Deborah Papineau Gregory of Nokomis won first place last year in the “Birds, Bugs and Critters” category of the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ 41nd Annual Juried Photographic Exhibition. The picture, “Butterfly Bubbles and Wine,” was taken at the gardens in Sarasota. The deadline for this year’s contest is Monday.

A close-up of white butterfly pollinating a purple flower. Shot from below, a diver above a wreck with a huge school of fishing following his travels. A burrowing owl looking straight at the camera.

Those are three recent winners in the amateur divisions of several of Southwest Florida’s summertime environmental photography contests. Some offer cash prizes, other give away new camera equipment, but most clearly feel that bragging rights rule because that's what the winners receive.

There are often thousands of entries even in the smaller-sized wildland and wildlife photography contests, several of which are in full swing now and ready for nature lovers to join.

You don’t have to best Clyde Butcher’s large-format camera wilderness photography of the South Florida landscape, or Paul Marcellini’s fine art nature photos of the Everglades, to have fun in one of the following environmental photography contests. Just start taking pictures and see how you compare to others who cherish the River of Grass and various natural wonders in Southwest Florida and beyond.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’
42nd Annual Juried Photographic Exhibition

Submissions are now being accepted for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ 42nd Annual Juried Photographic Exhibition.

Amateur photographers are invited to submit digital photos taken at either of Selby Gardens’ two campuses in five different categories. Submissions will be accepted online through Monday, August 15.

Judges will rank the photos and winners will be announced on Thursday, August 25. An online gallery featuring all the accepted photos and showcasing the winning entries will be on view from August 25 to September 25.

“Selby Gardens’ Annual Juried Photo Exhibition is a beloved celebration of our two bayfront sanctuaries through the eyes and camera lenses of our visitors,” Jennifer O. Rominiecki, president and CEO of Selby Gardens, said. “Since making this show virtual a couple of years ago, we have been able to accept and display even more high-quality amateur photography of our two campuses and engage more people in viewing these beautiful works of art.”

The list of categories, registration and submission requirements, and a link to the online submission portal is here.

2022 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest

In celebration of the country’s 15 federally protected marine environments, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is holding a photo contest that began on Memorial Day (May 27) and will end Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5).

A marine sanctuary are areas with special conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, cultural, archeological, scientific, educational, or aesthetic qualities. The National Marine Sanctuary System consists of 15 marine protected areas that encompass more than 783,000 square miles.

For South Florida photographers who are up for a day trip to Monroe County contest photos can be shot in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which features the Florida Reef, the only barrier coral reef in North America and the third-largest in the world.

At less than one square mile, Fagatele Bay of American Samoa off the southwest coast of Tutuila Island, is the smallest and most remote of all the national marine sanctuaries. Despite how tiny it is, Fagatele Bay supports perhaps the greatest diversity of marine life in the network - 168 species of corals, 1,400 species of algae and over 250 species of fish.

When photographing marine mammals and other protected species, follow NOAA’s wildlife viewing guidelines to ensure that you are not disturbing the animals.

Photographers should keep the following categories in mind when snapping shots for the contest:

Sanctuary Views: Beautiful sunsets and scenic shots of a national marine sanctuary.

Sanctuary Life: Residents such as the fish, birds, marine mammals, and other ocean creatures that frequent the sanctuaries.

Sanctuary Recreation: People responsibly enjoying national marine sanctuaries, whether boating, kayaking, diving, swimming, researching, or just hanging out on the beach.

Sanctuaries at Home: Submissions to this category can include photos of stewardship activities from home or a neighborhood, or sanctuary-related paintings, drawings, carvings, sculptures and the like.

Submit photos through Sept. 5, 2022 by completing this Google Form.

Each photographer may enter up to 10 photos with a minimum width of 1200 pixels. All images must include the photographer's name, a short description of when and where the photo was taken, and what it shows. Highlight wildlife photography best practices by indicating what kind of camera and lens combination was used and the approximate distance the photographer was from the subject in the photo.

Winners will be announced in October, and the photos will be featured in next year's Earth Is Blue magazine and on the Earth Is Blue social media campaign.

Lou Kellenberger Florida Wildlife Federation Photo Contest

Photos must be taken in the State of Florida and depict elements of the environment such as native plants, flowers, sunsets, boaters on the water, or wildlife. All photos must have complete information attached, including title, description, name, location, camera specifications, date, identification, and category.

Photographers must be 15 years old and up (except for a special children’s category) and may enter all images in a single category or select different categories for different photos. Photos may be color or black and white. Photos containing watermarks or other superimposed logos will not be admitted.

Photos cannot be improved with computer programs like Adobe Photoshop. Images with watermarks or other superimposed logos will not be allowed.

Entry fees and requirements can be found here after registering for a free account. The contest started August 1 and the deadline for submitting photos is October 31.

The same photo can be entered in up to three categories:

Birds: A single bird or a flock in an unusual pose or exhibiting playful behavior. Superior composition, background, and lighting are important elements.

Flowers: An image of a field of wildflowers or a close-up of a single flower. The photo can include other natural elements, but flowers should be the primary subject.

Garden: Home or schoolyard gardens that are designed to help sustain native plants and animals. Photos can show small or large gardens, with a variety of plants, primarily native, that provide food, water, and cover for wildlife.

Recreation: Well-composed scenes that include humans or human-made objects set in nature. For example, this is not a close-up of someone in a kayak, but rather a kayaker paddling on a lovely waterway. Sunset/Sunrise: A landscape photo of sunrise or sunset either over the water, over land, or in the sky.

Landscape: Scenes depicting Florida’s natural beauty. Photos may include birds and areas of water but the focus will be on landscapes.

Waterscape: This would be a scene depicting Florida’s natural beauty whose subject is primarily a body of water, like a river, lake, sinkhole, spring, or coastal water. Composition and light should play important roles in making this photo.

Wildlife: Any animal from mammal to fish to insect, except birds. This entry can include one or many creatures, or be focused on a portion of an animal. It can be made more interesting by exhibiting a characteristic or unusual behavior, or by being particularly well lit.

Mobile: Photos made with mobile phones, especially ones depicting being in the “right place at the right time.” Photos can be taken by children on any type of mobile device, including tablets.

Kids: Photos taken by a person 14 years old or younger. The shots should not be set up or heavily assisted by a parent or other adult.

Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization will be disqualified. Acceptable alterations are adjustments to color, contrast, brightness and sharpness, removal of dust and scratches, cropping, black and white conversions, and multiple exposures of the same scene are combined for a greater tonal range, and similar processes for extended depth of field.

Unacceptable alterations are a combination of two or more photos not of the same scene, the addition, duplication, deletion or moving of objects in a photo, or the use of digital filters and effects.

Winning photos will be available on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission website in February 2023, as well as in the winter edition of Fish & Wildlife News

Florida State Forest Photo Contest

The Florida’s State Forest Photo Contest is held quarterly all year long, and winners will then go head-to-head for the Photo of the Year.

Submit your photos taken at one of the 38 Florida State Forests for a chance to be a quarterly winner. Quarterly and annual winners will have their entries featured in Florida Forest Service publications.

Contest categories include:
Nature: Wildlife, plant life and natural landscape

Recreation: Hunting, fishing, trails, camping, family, friends, people and pets

Creative: Tell a story, artistic and illusion

Employee: For department employees only

Download and complete the photograph submission/release Form.

Download and complete the model release form for each person whose face is recognizable in the photograph. This form may not be altered or edited in any way.

Review the contest rulesfor a complete description of how to submit photographs, accepted photo formats, judging, use of the photos, and prizes.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by VoLo Foundation, a non-profit with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health. 

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