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Photography Science

Brilliant Solar Flares and the Northern Lights Appear in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist

August 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“The Magnetic Field of our Active Sun” by Andrew McCarthy. All images courtesy of Royal Museums Greenwich, shared with permission

A trippy shot of the psychedelic California Nebula, a panorama of the Milky Way sprawling above French lavender crops, and a phenomenal glimpse of the sun’s magnetic field bursting after a solar flare are a few of the stellar images on the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist. Hosted by Royal Museums Greenwich for the past 13 years, the annual contest garnered more than 4,5000 images of the green lights of the Aurora, distant nebula, and other galactic sights from entrants in 75 countries. The winner will be announced on September 16 prior to the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition of the works opening on September 18. You can see more of the top photos on the contest site. (via Kottke)

 

“Harmony” by Stefan Liebermann

“Iceland Vortex” by Larryn Rae

“Alien Throne” by Marcin Zajac

“California Dreamin’ NGC 1499” by Terry Hancock

“Milky Way rising over Durdle Door” by Anthony Sullivan

“Break of a New Day” by Nicholas Roemmelt

 

 



Photography

A Dusty Roadrunner, Sleepy Sandhill Crane, and Shy Sandpiper Top the 2021 Audubon Photography Awards

July 7, 2021

Grace Ebert

Anna’s Hummingbird and cattail, Karen Boyer Guyton/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Plants For Birds Honorable Mention. All images courtesy of Audubon, shared with permission

Most years, the Audubon Photography Awards garners entries from photographers who journey around the world to spot the elusive, extraordinary winged creatures they don’t usually see near their homes. The last few months have necessarily restricted travel, though, prompting 2021’s entrants to seek out the unique and remarkable moments happening right around them. Selected from 8,770 images and more than 260 videos, this year’s winners capture a wide array of avian species, including a greater roadrunner enveloped by a cloud of dust at Los Novios Ranch in Texas, a sleepy sandhill crane lounging on its mother in Florida, and a northern harrier as she spreads her wings before gliding down to catch her prey. You can see more of the top shots below, and check out previous year’s winners, too.

 

Sandhill crane, Robin Ulery/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Amateur Award Winner

Greater roadrunner, Carolina Fraser/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Grand Prize

Purple sandpiper, Arav Karighattam/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Youth Award Winner

Northern cardinal, Steve Jessmore/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Professional Award Winner

Anna’s hummingbird, Patrick Coughlin/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Fisher Prize

Red-winged blackbird on a lily pad, Shirley Donald/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Plants For Birds Award Winner

Northern harrier, Elizabeth Yicheng Shen/Audubon Photography Awards/2021 Female Bird Prize

 

 



Photography

A Resilient Kangaroo, Exploding Volcano, and School of Barracuda Take the Top Spots in the 2021 BigPicture Competition

June 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“New Kid in School” by Yung-Sen Wu. All images courtesy of BigPicture, shared with permission

Encompassing plumes of mushroom spores, preying venus flytraps, and an opportunistic leopard seal, the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest showcases the beautiful, peculiar, and resilient flora and fauna across the globe. Now in its eighth year, the annual competition, which is held by the California Academy of Sciences, is centered largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment. The 2021 contest garnered entries showing the profound changes to the planet in recent months alone by documenting the desolate landscape following Australian bushfires and a disposable face mask floating off the coast of California. See some of the winning shots below and all finalists on the competition’s site. (via Kottke)

 

“Hope Amidst the Ashes” by Jo-Anne McArthur

“Ice Bears” by Peter Mather

Top left: “Sign of the Tides” by Ralph Pace. Top right: “Boss” by Michelle Valberg. Bottom left: “Another Planet” by Fran Rubia. Bottom right: “Facing Reality” by Amos Nachoum

“Nutritional Supplement” by Nick Kanakis

Left: “Rain Dance” by Sarang Naik. Top right: “Running Atta” by Petr Bambousek. Bottom right: “Beak to Beak” by Shane Kalyn

“Taking a Load Off” by Nicolas Reusens

“Down the Hatch” by Angel Fitor

 

 



Photography

A Stunning Shot of Sharks Cruising Under a French Polynesian Sunset Wins the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year

February 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

Category Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Renee Capozzola (U.S.) /UPY2021. All images courtesy of UPY 2021, shared with permission

An exquisite shot of blacktip reef sharks circling underneath a jewel-toned sky in French Polynesia tops this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Captured by California-based Renee Capozzola, the winning entry frames a pair of the white-bellied fish and airborne seagulls, forming a serendipitous composition that combines air, land, and sea. “I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene: glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks, and even birds,” she said.

This year’s competition received more than 4,500 entries from photographers in 68 countries, including images of wrecked barges, frogs peering out from a muddy pond, and two ornery blenny mid-tussle. Capozzola is the first woman to ever win the U.K.-based contest since its inception in 1965.

We’ve gathered some of our favorites below, but you can see all of the winning shots and watch interviews with the photographers on the contest’s site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

Winner. British Waters Wide Angle, My Backyard © Mark Kirkland (U.K.)/UPY2021

Third Place. Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. © Danny Lee (Australia)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Behavior. © Jing Gong Zhang (China)/UPY2021

Left: Winner. Portrait. © Ryohei Ito (Japan)/UPY202. Right: Runner Up. Portrait. © Keigo Kawamura (Japan)/UPY2021

Winner. Wrecks © Tobias Friedrich (Germany)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Macro © Steven Kovacs (U.S.)/UPY2021

Third Place. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Oleg Gaponyuk (Russian Federation)/UPY2021

Runner Up. Wide Angle © Martin Broen (U.S.)/UPY2021

Third Place. British Waters Wide Angle © Kirsty Andrews (U.K.)/UPY2021

 

 



Photography

A Shark Swimming in a Heart-Shaped School of Salmon Tops 2020 Drone Photography Contest

September 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Love Heart of Nature” by Jim Picôt. “In winter, a shark is inside a salmon school when, chasing the baitfish, the shape became a heart shape.” All images © the photographers, courtesy of 2020 Drone Awards, shared with permission

The 2020 Drone Photography Awards garnered an arresting collection of aerial shots, and among its winners is a serendipitous image of a heart-shaped school of salmon. Captured by Australian photographer Jim Picôt, the piece is particularly special because a shark swims near the center, chasing one of the fish. Other prized shots include heron roosts nestled in the treetops, and a group of swimmers floating between crashing waves.

Hosted by the Siena Awards Festival, the contest received entries from photographers in 126 countries, and an exhibition titled Above Us Only Sky will run October 24 to November 29 in Siena to showcase the top images. Check out some of our favorites below, and dive into all the winning shots on the contest’s site. (via PetaPixel)

 

“Gray Whale Plays Pushing Tourists” by Joseph Cheires. “At the end of the gray whale season, I was told about a gray whale that, for the last 3 years, used to play with the boats, pushing them gently. So we went back the year after and incredibly the gray whale appeared and this shot is the result.”

“Alien Structure on Earth” by Tomasz Kowalski. “Sometimes we need to change the perspective to feel the strength of the structure stronger than we’ve ever thought. The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers, are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur.”

“Where Herons Live”  by Dmitrii Viliunov. “Many think that herons make nests in reeds or in a swamp. In fact, they nest in the tops of huge trees and with a drone it is sometimes possible to see them.”

“On the Sea” by Roberto Corinaldesi. “An aerial view of swimmers, where the sea becomes the place to take refuge, between the blue carpet and the white foam of the waves.”

“Frozen Land” by Alessandra Meniconzi. “With temperatures of minus 30°C, winters in the Eurasian steppe can be brutal. But life doesn’t stop, and local people move from one village to another with a sledge, crossing icy rivers and lakes.”

“Phoenix Rising” by Paul Hoelen. “The phoenix rising is a symbol of re-emergence from the ashes of fire. This is symbolized through the beginnings of an actual regeneration process at the industrial mining site of Lake Owens. After a destructive past and the creation of the most toxic dustbowl in America, migratory birds are returning, and life is beginning anew…”

“Black Flag” by Tomer Appelbaum. “Thousands of Israelis maintain social distancing due to Covid-19 restrictions while protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rabin Square on 19 April 2020.”

 

 



Photography Science

Mesmerizing Shots of Distant Galaxies and Aurorae Top the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

September 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Andromeda Galaxy at Arm’s Length?” © Nicolas Lefaudeux (France), galaxies winner and overall winner. “Have you ever dreamt of touching a galaxy? This version of the Andromeda Galaxy seems to be at arm’s length among clouds of stars. Unfortunately, this is just an illusion, as the galaxy is still 2 million light-years away. In order to obtain the tilt-shift effect, the photographer 3D-printed a part to hold the camera at an angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of closeness to Andromeda.”

The 2020 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest gathers a trove of sublime shots capturing otherwise unseen phenomena and distant fixtures of outer space. With more than 5,000 entries from six continents, the 12th annual competition includes Nicolas Lefaudeux’s photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy two million light-years away, one by Rafael Schmall that frames the lit trails of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, and another of the Aurora Borealis reflecting on the ice by Kristina Makeeva (previously).

Starting October 23, 2020, the top photographs will be on display at the National Maritime Museum. Until then, pick up a copy of this year’s book that collects all 140 winning and shortlisted shots, and explore some of Colossal’s favorites below.

 

“Iceland “© Kristina Makeeva (Russia) aurorae highly commended. “Winters in Iceland require some training in terms of wind protection equipment. Iceland is a country with very strong winds, so a stable tripod is required to shoot the aurora. Many astrophotographers wait in a certain place for several hours to capture the Aurora Borealis. The photographer was lucky in this instance as she waited near Diamond Beach where the reflection of the aurora on the ice was beautiful.”

 

“The Prison of Technology” © Rafael Schmall (Hungary), people and space winner. “The star in the centre of the image is the Albireo double star, surrounded by the trails of moving satellites. How many more might there be by the time we reach next year’s competition? There could be thousands of moving dots in the sky. In order to create astrophotos, photographers have to carefully plan where to place the telescope, and this will be more difficult in the future with more satellites in the way.”

 

“Light Bridge in the Sky” © Xiuquan Zhang (China), aged 12, young competition highly commended. “The photographer visited Iceland with his mother in 2019. The sky there is wonderful every night. The photographer had never seen such a scene before! The aurora is magical, as you can see in this photo.”

 

“Cosmic Inferno” © Peter Ward (Australia), stars and nebulae winner. “NGC 3576 is a well-known nebula in southern skies but is shown here without any stars. The software reveals just the nebula, which has been mapped into a false color palette. The scene takes on the look of a celestial fire-maelstrom. The image is intended to reflect media images taken in Australia during 2019 and 2020, where massive bushfires caused the destruction of native forests and have claimed over 12 million acres of land. It shows nature can act on vast scales and serves as a stark warning that our planet needs nurturing.”

 

“Desert Magic” © Stefan Leibermann (Germany), skyscapes runner up. “The photographer took this image during a trip through Jordan. He stayed for three days in the desert at Wadi Rum. During the night, the photographer tried to capture the amazing starry sky over the desert. He used a star tracker device to capture the sky. The photographer found this red dune as a foreground and captured the imposing Milky Way centre in the sky.”

 

“Observe the Heart of the Galaxy” © Tian Li (China), people and space runner up. “This image depicts the photographer climbing the radio telescope and Mingantu solar radio telescope array. First, the photographer tested and moved his camera so that the M8 and M20 nebulae would appear right next to the telescope. After taking the foreground image, he moved his camera a little bit but still pointing at the same location in the sky, and captured the background with an equatorial mount.”

 

“Tycho Crater Region with Colours” © Alain Paillou (France), our moon winner. “The Tycho crater is one of the most famous craters on the Moon. This huge impact has left very impressive scars on the Moon’s surface. With the colours of the soils, Tycho is even more impressive. This picture combines one session with a black-and-white camera, to capture the details and sharpness, and one session with a colour camera, to capture the colours of the soils. These colours come mainly from metallic oxides in small balls of glass and can give useful information about the Moon’s geology and history. The blue shows a high titanium oxide concentration and the red shows high iron oxide concentration. This picture reveals the incredible beauty and complexity of our natural satellite.”

 

“The Green Lady” © Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany), aurorae winner. “The photographer had heard a lot of stories about the ‘lady in green’. Although he has had the chance to photograph the Northern Lights many times, he had never seen the ‘green lady’ before. On a journey to Norway, she unexpectedly appeared with her magical green clothes making the whole sky burn with green, blue, and pink colours.”

 

“The Dolphin Jumping out of an Ocean of Gas” © Connor Matherne (USA), stars and nebulae runner up. “This target is officially known as Sh2-308, but the photographer has always enjoyed calling it the Dolphin Nebula. It is a bubble of gas being shed by the bright blue star in the centre of the image as it enters its pre-supernova phase. The red star to the right could possibly be influencing the shape too and might be responsible for the bill of the dolphin. While it won’t explode in our lifetimes, seeing the warning signs are quite neat. It never hurts to say that the warning signs are the most beautiful part of this particular target!”