Photo Contest Winners

Grand Prize Winners and Runners Up from The Nature Conservancy's Digital Photography Contests

Leah Horstman, 2016 Grand Prize
Christmas morning on the Merced, Yosemite National Park. Photo © Leah Horstman

"I was having a tough time this past Xmas as my daughter and son-in-law had recently been recommishioned to Japan. Alone at the holidays, I headed to Yosemite on a last minute whim. With no available accommodations, I decided a tent would be ok, and got everything set-up in camp just as a strong storm rolled in. Over a foot of fresh snow fell that cold Xmas eve. I woke before dawn, still fully dressed and very cold. It was still dark out, but I could see the stars and the gleam of new snow. I headed a short distance down the road and pulled off at the bend in the Merced. Setting-up my tripod just as the first signs of light began to fill the valley, this was my Christmas morning scene. For me, this is more than just a captured moment, it is the moment my heart felt healed and full."

Camera details: Canon 5D Mark III / Canon 16-35mm f/4 / Lee filter system f/20 15 sec ISO 100

Jennifer Adler, 2016 Runner Up
Dancing at the Edge - In north Florida. Photo © Jennifer Adler

"Nature means freedom; it gives us the ability to fly. The air-clear water emanating from the region's freshwater springs is a welcome break from the oppressive summer heat, as well as an invitation to soar in the treetops. Late one Sunday afternoon on my friend’s birthday, we drove out to Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Fort White, FL, USA) for a celebratory swim. We arrived at the end of the day when most people were just leaving the park and ended up being the only 2 people in Blue Hole, a 40-foot deep spring a quarter mile walk into the woods. The 70-degree water felt icy cold as compared to the 100+ degree heat, but it was incredibly refreshing. Leaving the above-water world behind, I dove deep into the spring, looking up to see this view that truly encapsulates my feelings when underwater."
Camera details:  Nikon D800, f/8, 1/160 sec, ISO 1000

Lea Foster, 2016 Second Runner Up
Dandelion dew drops. Photo © Lea Foster

"This is a dandelion at seed stage with water droplets all over it. I photographed it one evening as it was a very light misting rain--no sun at all. I laid flat on the ground on my right side--the green in the photo is from back ground foliage as I photographed this dandelion in one of my perennial gardens. I normally photograph the insects in my gardens but in the Indiana Spring season not much is out yet---so I was a bit bored and looking for something to photograph when I thought about the dandelions. I was amazed at how the droplets just clung to the dandelion---who would have thought!"

Jessica Kirste, 2015 Grand Prize Winner
Red fox at Island Beach State Park, New Jersey. Photo © Jessica Kirste

"Every winter I go to Island Beach State Park in New Jersey to photograph the many red foxes that call this beautiful 10 mile long, preserved barrier island their home. It was an overcast day in February of 2014 when I spotted a fox resting on a small dune nearby. Quietly I lay flat on the ground in the parking lot some feet away from a large puddle, and the fox eventually woke up from its nap and started walking through the puddle in search of food. The fox took some interest and made eye contact as it walked through the puddle while I fired away. It was an incredible moment with a wild red fox. These beautiful small creatures are as interested in us as we are with them. Being an overcast day, the light was not a problem. With this being a wildlife shot you have to work quickly when the moment happens and hope that you get at least one great shot. Island Beach took a hit from Hurricane Sandy but these foxes amazingly survived and the island continues to recover. That photo shoot with the fox is a day I will never forget!"

Camera details: Canon 7D, 180mm, 1/1000 second exposure at f/5.6, ISO 500

Kris Thornton, 2015 Runner Up
Yosemite at night. Photo © Kris Thornton

"Last summer, my best friend and I traveled through Death valley and Yosemite. We spent three days camping and hiking around, taking in what this beautiful world has to offer. We hiked around most of the day and decided to set up in this small meadow. In the distance there is a small campground and children were playing in the field with headlamps on. Before it got too dark we set up the gear on a tripod and focused on the gorgeous half dome. It was getting dark fast and I knew I likely had one chance to get a good shot. We sat for about another hour waiting for the night to become black as could be and the only light was from the stars, moon, a few passing cars and if you look closely a climber's head lamp on the side of the mountain. I used a trigger and had the camera set in bulb mode. I did this shot as a 30 min exposure. I wanted to go for 40 min, but with the passing cars, I thought the photo was ruined and decided to try again the next night. This was the result. We had a great time and it is a memory I will always have."

Camera details: Nikon D800, 17-35 1.8 lens. 30 mi

John Nordstrand, 2015 Runner Up
Jumping Through the sunset at Carpinteria Beach, California. Photo © John Nordstrand

"This was captured during one of the more spectacular evenings from winter 2014. I live close to this spot, Carpinteria Beach in Carpinteria, California, and tried to find a good place to setup for the shot. I was fortunate to walk all the way down to the end of the beach where I saw the tidal pool. As the sunset unfolded, the reflections in the pool just got better and better.

I had originally liked the image just as a landscape. But there is a local guy who walks the beach every night, and he had come down and gone all the way around the point. On his return, he just happened to "jump through" the perfect spot."

Camera details: Canon 70D, a Canon EFS 10-18 Zoom Lens F4.5/5.6, and the settings were ISO 400, 10 mm, F 8.0 at 1/125.

Tulus Simatupang, 2013 Grand Prize Winner
Burnaby Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Jim Ridley, 2012 Grand Prize Winner
Sandhill Crane, Wildwing Lake, Kensington Metropark, Milford, Michigan, USA

Christine Haines, 2012 Runner Up
Pygmy Nuthatches, Spokane, Washington, USA

R. Grant Maslowski, 2012 Runner Up
Butterfly Feast, Tambopata National Reserve, Peru

Bruce Leventhal, 2011 Grand Prize Winner
Red-eyed tree frogs, Sarapiquí, Costa Rica

Kathleen Patricia Turner, 2011 Runner Up
Napping bear with cubs, Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA

Robert B. Green, 2011 Runner Up
Bison, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Jan Forseth, 2010 Grand Prize Winner
Mountain Goats, Mt. Evans Wilderness Area, Colorado, USA

Graham F. Owen, 2010 Runner Up
Great Egret, Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Preserve, Encino, California, USA

Megan Lorenz, 2010 Runner Up
Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Campbellville, Ontario, Canada

Carol Grant, 2009 Grand Prize Winner
Endangered Florida manatee at the Three Sisters Spring wintering site, Crystal River, Florida.

Scott Anderson, 2009 Runner Up
Burrowing owls, Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, Florida

Patrick Smith, 2009 Runner Up
Mirror Lake, Yosemite Valley