The winners have been announced for the second annual Natural Landscape Photography Awards. This refreshing new competition showcases landscape and nature photographers who are committed to maintaining the authenticity and realism of their images.
The creators of NLPA wanted to create a community exhibit that showcases some of the best photographic work of the moment, while setting a new post-processing standard aimed at avoiding the deceptive digital editing techniques that have prevailed for years in landscape. photography community. You could argue that these images are more a showcase of nature itself than of the photographers who captured them, though the winners are certainly well-deserving.
Below are the first award-winning images by category. For the full gallery of finalist images, please see the contest gallery on the NLPA website. If you missed this year’s contest but still want to support the cause, please consider purchasing a copy of Natural Landscape, Volume 1, the beautifully bound image collection from the 2021 contest.
Photographer of the Year, Winner: Brent Clark
Photographer of the Year winner Brent Clark had this to say:
I am honored and amazed to receive the Natural Landscape Photography Award’s Natural Landscape Distinction
Photographer of the year! Last year’s NLPA was the first photography contest I’ve ever entered because most contests seem to reward an image style I’d rather not create and a mindset I don’t have . What caught my eye with the NLPA were its esteemed judges and core values, rather than the awards and recognition that come with victory. I felt like participating was voting for what I wanted to see more of in the landscape photography community – natural, inspiring images grounded in reality. After seeing the results and the reaction from the community, I was encouraged to “vote” again, not expecting to win. The images that made it to the top were a mix of awesome, quiet, and creative work that I knew I could trust due to the contest rules and judging process (which includes checking raw files). As long as the competition remains faithful to its values, I will encourage it with pleasure! I want to thank the founders and judges of the NLPA for their monumental efforts and vision, my friends and family who have been so supportive, nature and all the artists I have learned from and inspired me to over the years.
The photograph shows the shadow cast by some peaks on the surface of the Lowell Glacier in Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory, Canada. It was taken one morning in July 2022 from a Cessna 172 as part of a decades-long glacier project. With climate change, Lowell Glacier, like most glaciers around the world, is collapsing, its surface gradually disappearing beneath earth and rubble as the ice melts. The image is meant to suggest the wave of destruction that will wash over us if we don’t stop dumping carbon into the atmosphere.
When I decided to visit the volcanic site of the Reykjanes Peninsula, I wasn’t sure what it would be and how dangerous it would be. Fortunately, we had good conditions and good filters to protect our lungs. The image called “ardor” is one of my favorite images from the volcanic series due to the small fragment of this huge area. The blue hour cast an ambient blue light on the background layers, with the orange lava standing out even more. The hot liquid earth at 1,100°C is frozen in time. Even though my distance to the erupting volcano was about 500 meters, I could feel the radiant heat with each eruption.
One of the beauties of Romania are the virgin forests spread across the Carpathian Mountains. It represents one of the natural treasures of the country, and even if some are part of different natural parks, they are still endangered. The vision aims to bring people closer to nature, to raise awareness and to help people not to see the forest only as an economic resource. Through this series of selected images, I wanted to highlight how well conifers are adapted to winter conditions and harsh landscapes. Nature is not as fragile as many think, but it is raw and well adapted. Although for some this type of forest in alpine terrain or on a rocky ridge is not economically significant, it is of enormous importance for biodiversity and the well-being of the ecosystem. Incidentally, most of these photos were taken in the county where I currently live and where I am currently working on a project in which I am trying to raise awareness of the importance of nature in our lives and show how diversity can be around us. Exploring and challenging myself with different themes has helped me realize how important it is to cherish places near you – that way sometimes you can find the story you want to tell near you.
For many years I was so engrossed in capturing the scene that I initially imagined that I would miss all these other opportunities around me. Once I learned to let go, photography became so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.
For this backpacking trip to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, one of the photographs I was hoping for was of these mountains reflecting in a calm alpine lake. After hiking 11 miles and climbing almost 5000 feet, I reached the top and realized the chances of capture were slim. We were engulfed in fog, we couldn’t see anything around us and it was too windy.
Throughout the evening and entire night these mountains were hidden and no photos were taken, but as the sun rose the clouds finally began to part revealing these impressive peaks. I decided not to descend to the lake but rather to focus on these two mountains which really dominated the scene and my attention. The conditions were magical but quickly fleeting. Although it wasn’t anything I had originally planned, I couldn’t have been happier to shoot this backcountry scene.
Intimate Landscapes, Winner: Spencer Cox
When I first saw this scene, the warm, earthy tones of the riverbed reminded me of 19th century landscape paintings. Even the ferocious rapids of the Yellowstone River looked like gentle brush strokes when viewed from afar.
I knew I could play with scale and perspective when composing this photo, as the trees seemed to stand out against a cloudy sky rather than a swirling river. It can be a difficult photograph to analyze without a second look.
This photo breaks many of the so-called “rules” of landscape photography. It uses the midday sun rather than the Golden Hour light. The main subjects – the spindly trees along the riverbank – are at the bottom of the frame near the corner. And, to take the shot, I pointed straight down from the edge of a canyon, not forward on a typical stage.
These unusual factors, however, are what give the photo its personality. I’ve always loved seeking out offbeat, intimate views of nature like this wherever I go. This can be the best way to tell the story of a landscape.
Summary or Details, Winner: Mieke Boynton
Captured from above during a chartered light aircraft over the waters of Gutharraguda/Shark Bay in Western Australia, this abstract aerial photograph can be interpreted as the face and hand of a beautiful ‘Ocean Deity’ . Her peaceful face expresses serenity and calm, and she has the dignity and grace of a Geisha.
Rivers, lakes and waterfalls, winner: Tom Shapira
Trees, Forests and Woods, Winner: Stuart McGlennon
Please see the full contest gallery on the NLPA website to see all of the finalists in each category. Orders for the 2022 book will open soon, so keep an eye out and, in the meantime, pick up a copy of the 2021 book which, hyperbole aside, is one of the finest collections of landscape photography ever published. The Natural Landscape Photography Awards are more than just a competition. For its creators, it is a real passion project aimed at presenting the state of the art of landscape photography. This can be seen in their dedication to transparency and authenticity in the administration of the contest. The awards and photo book give the community something to look forward to and gather each year, and the results are always guaranteed as an exhibition of the best landscape photographers of the day.
All images used with permission, courtesy of Natural Landscape Photography Awards