NCWF Announces 5th Annual Photo Contest Winners

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Snakes and birds of prey with hard-earned catches. Galaxies photographed from mountain peaks. Ocean stormfronts looming over the Outer Banks. Photographers across the state perfectly captured the beauty and diversity of our state’s natural resources for North Carolina Wildlife Federation’s 5th Annual Wildlife Photography Contest.

NCWF received over 1,000 submissions from professional, amateur and youth photographers highlighting North Carolina’s wildlife and habitat – from the coast to the mountains. Categories included Critters, People in Nature, Scenes of North Carolina and Pollinators.

Winning contest photos and honorable mentions will be featured on the Federation’s website, social media accounts, monthly Wildlife Wire newsletter, weekly Butterfly Highway newsletter and quarterly NCWF Journal.

Contest Winners for 2023

  • Critters Amateur: Tony Cervati
  • Critters Professional: Jason Walle
  • People Amateur: Cole Smith
  • Pollinators Amateur: Bryan Barnes
  • Pollinators Professional: Pamela Strand
  • Scenes Amateur: Nancy Arehart
  • Scenes Professional: Pamela Strand
  • Youth: Henry Clark
  • Honorable Mention: Carmen Cromer
  • Honorable Mention: Erin Price-Erwin
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Marciniak
  • Honorable Mention: Michael Johnston
  • Honorable Mention: Wanda Rushing

Winning & Honorable Mention Images, Photographer Comments

Critters, Amateur: Tony Cervati. “Hummingbirds truly are magical little creatures. So small, yet, when they are observed, are absolutely determined and seemingly fearless! As this was taken right outside the ranger station at a local park, it’s nice to remember how fortunate we are in North Carolina to not necessarily have to travel far to enjoy the beauty of the wildlife that surrounds us. “

Critters, Professional: Jason Walle. “Being in the right place at the right time is an understatement with this photo. I was at a park in Union County, North Carolina with a large lake/pond feature and happened to see a fish head come out of the water. I didn’t think much about it until I saw it again. I was already taking photos of something else so I had my Canon R5 with a 70-200 lens set to go. When I saw the snake holding the fish I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and was able to capture this shot just before the snake took the fish underwater and did not come back up.”

People in Nature, Amateur: Cole Smith. “My wife and I are fairly new to astrophotography and currently live in North Alabama. When I was researching dark skies to go to, I was pleasantly surprised to see the area of the Cherohala Skyway as one of the darkest spots near us, so we decided to pack up and go to Huckleberry Knob in April. It was so dark up there that we could look up and see the center of the Milky Way with our naked eye. After shooting several frames of light in this newfound darkness, I found the composition that I didn’t realize I was looking for initially when I captured my wife, our tent, and the light of her camera with the astral backdrop beyond. “

Pollinators, Amateur: Bryan Barnes. “The feather-legged flies are my favorite species to find. I came across this one on a windy night and spent 20 minutes trying to get a shot with everything squared up while her wings were stretched out.”

Pollinators, Professional: Pamela Strand. “I took this photo in Duke Gardens. I grew up with flower gardens and the insects they attracted. I am familiar with our usual swallowtails the tiger and several black species but when I saw this one I knew it was unique.”

Scenes, Amateur: Nancy Arehart. “I was peering through my binoculars early one misty morning with hopes of spotting a black bear or maybe a river otter. But instead, I noticed this amazingly tranquil scene. I love finding intimate landscapes and using my long telephoto lens to capture them.”

Scenes, Professional: Pamela Strand. “This image is of a Nor’easter approaching the Outer Banks near Bodie Island. Blackest storm I’ve ever seen.”

Youth, Henry Clark (Age 12). “I was on a trip to Grandfather Mountain. After crossing the Mile High Swinging Bridge, my brother and I climbed up the rocks to see the view. I took a picture of a tree in the clouds from the mountain’s top because it offered a unique experience.”

Honorable Mention: Carmen Cromer. “This summer, I visited Jordan Lake every morning to photograph the local wildlife. I was particularly drawn to the ospreys, which are challenging—but rewarding—to photograph as they plunge after fish. I photographed this particular osprey as the sun rose. Luckily for me, the bird flew across the horizon at precisely the right moment for me to capture its silhouette against the rising sun.”

Honorable Mention: Erin Price-Erwin.

Honorable Mention: Michael Marciniak.

Honorable Mention: Robert Johnston. “Early morning fog at Pocosin Lakes Pungo Unit, The beauty of a sunrise can be both breathtaking and most often, a moment in time captured to be shared with others in the form of a photo.”

Honorable Mention: Timothy Foxx.

Honorable Mention: Wanda Rushing.  

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