In August, I submitted 12 photographs to the inaugural Natural Landscape Photography Awards. Yesterday, the winners were announced and their work is stunning. Here is a gallery of the winning photographs: https://naturallandscapeawards.com/gallery-2021/. I encourage you to spend some time looking at them.
Over 1,300 photographers from 47 countries submitted photographs. I had one photo that made it into the third round of the judging. Photos in the third round comprised the top third of the 9,947 photos submitted. The next cut reduced the number of photos to 10%, before final judging occurred to select the winner. My photo that made it to the third round was this one, taken at the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
The winning photographs demonstrate the state of the art in landscape photography. Ansel Adams said, “a good photograph is knowing where to stand.” But location, location, location is only one component of great photograph. The winning photographs in the Natural Landscape Photography Awards demonstrate that it takes much more. The winning artists used light, color, shape and form to make remarkable images.
The rules of the competition prohibited artists from using editing techniques that failed to maintain the integrity of the subject – techniques like adding in skies, foregrounds, birds, mist, sun, moon, or lighting effects, removing significant elements from the original scene, distorting elements, or combining photos taken at different times or at different focal lengths. These techniques are used by photographers to create some incredible digital art, but often that art bears little resemblance to the actual scene before the photographer. The founders of the Natural Landscape Photography Awards wanted to have a competition that rewards the “truthful depiction of the natural world.” As you can see from the winning photographs, the natural world is is amazingly beautiful even without resorting to extreme editing techniques.