Ice breaks at dawn at Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada. This photo was entered into The Nature Conservancy’s 2018 Photo Contest.
Abraham Lake Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada © Ying Han

Photo Contest

Your Pictures: The Beauty of Winter

With shorter days and plunging temperatures comes unique natural splendor.

When the Northern Hemisphere is wrapped in winter’s dark shadow, nature puts on a spectacular show for anyone willing to brave the cold. The stillness of the frozen air heightens each of the senses, making the little details of a glimmering blanket of snow or a cardinal’s song even more inspiring.       

Though the days are the shortest, they are still filled with natural wonder. We’re celebrating the Winter Solstice with these stunning images from our 2019 photo contest that highlight the little things that make this season so special. 

Precious Hours of Daylight

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Seeing the sun emerge after each long night brings a new sense of renewal and light. 

Glowing clouds illuminate snowy mountain lake.
Glowing Sky Orange wisps of clouds illuminate a fresh snowfall on Peyto Lake in Alberta, Canada. © Matt Meisenheimer

Unobstructed Views

Bare trees no longer provide as much cover for elusive wildlife, making chance encounters on a morning stroll more likely.  

Buck standing under stow-covered trees.
Majestic Wildlife A buck stands perfectly framed beneath snow-covered tree branches. © Retkes Tamás/TNC Photo Contest 2019
× Buck standing under stow-covered trees.
Owl camouflaged among bare branches.
Camouflaged The barred owl's brown and white feathers seamlessly blend in among the bare trees, tipped with snow. © Oli Moorman/TNC Photo Contest 2019
× Owl camouflaged among bare branches.

Crunching along a snow covered trail, I turned a corner and we were suddenly face to face. We stared at each other for a few minutes before I slowly backed away.

2019 Photo Contest Participant
Red fox running across snow at sunset
Strolling Through the Snow A red fox hunts on a frozen surface under a superb sunset. © JC Lemay

Solitude

Stillness allows time for quiet reflection and tranquil moments of peace.

Lone hiker along snowy mountain lake
Taking it All In A lone hiker is dwarfed by the snow-covered mountains of Lake McArthur at Yoho National Park in Alberta, Canada © Michael Zheng

Sparkle and Shine

The landscape shimmers as the warm sun illuminates each tiny crystal of ice and nature’s intricate patterns.

Skyward view of snow-covered tree tops.
Aspen Popsicles The aspen forest in Steamboat Springs, CO © Anita Merrigan/TNC Photo Contest 2019
× Skyward view of snow-covered tree tops.
Frost on red leaves
First Frost Jagged blackberry leaves tipped with glittery frost. © Robin Thompson/TNC Photo Contest 2019
× Frost on red leaves

Color and Contrast

A crisp, white blanket of snow is the perfect minimalist backdrop to allow nature’s colors to pop.

Bluebird on snowy branch with orange leaves
Complementary Colors An eastern bluebird's rusty orange chest and last remaining leaves are bright pops of color in an early snowstorm. © Andy Raupp
Lone bare tree in snow with pink-hued sky
Negative Space A pink-hued winter sky brings warmth to a lone tree in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Canada. © Marius van Dyk

Time is Frozen

Frigid temperatures have the power to seemingly stop time, turning a powerful waterfall into a cascading tower of icy spires.  

 Hiker climbing frozen waterfall
Climbing Ice Skilled climbers scale the frozen Upper Falls of Johnston Canyon in Banff. © Leah Horstman/TNC Photo Contest 2019
Long exposure of frozen waterfall
Slow Fall In -10 degree temperatures, the waters of Iceland's Aldeyjarfoss waterfall splash their icy spray over a frozen ledge. © Amanda Luker/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Glowing Nights

Long, dark nights become otherworldly in the upper most reaches of the globe. The Northern Lights dance across an inky black sky, dotted with twinkling stars. 

Northern lights glowing orange and green
Aurora Borealis Nature puts on a spectacular light show when charged particles from the sun get trapped in Earth's magnetic field. © Nelson Lutz/TNC Photo Contest 2019

Even amid winter’s dark shadows and frigid air, the beauty of our natural world shines bright.