Nature photography contest winners create stunning images

Stunning images of Sarasota’s Marie Selby Botanical Gardens abound in the winning categories of the Orchid and Bromeliad Research and Cultivation Center’s Summer Photo Contest.

Selby Gardens received nearly 300 submissions for the 42nd Annual Virtual Jury Photo Exhibition. Photos must have been taken within the past two years at either Selby’s main Bayfront campus in downtown Sarasota or the Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey.

“This virtual exhibit offers an exciting, inspiring journey through the diverse natural world and living art that can be observed and experienced at Selby Gardens,” said Jennifer O. Romiecki, President and CEO of Selby. “We are so grateful that nearly 200 exceptionally talented artists have chosen to share their vision of the beauty of our two bayside sanctuaries through their contributions.”

Selby is a world-class ‘air plant’ sanctuary best known for its orchid research, and its botanists have discovered more than 2,000 species of plants on more than 150 expeditions to tropical regions. The sanctuary now contains more than 20,000 living plants, including 5,500 orchids, 3,500 bromeliads, and more than a thousand other epiphytes and other plants.

Conservation groups, schools, photography clubs, libraries, magazines, tourism development agencies, online photo sites, retail stores, and state and federal agencies held environmental photo contests across America this summer, several of which were based in Southwest Florida.

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Even in photo contests this summer based on “great smiles,” “funny times,” or “just surprise us,” most entries were captured outdoors.

In Selby, both the main Sarasota Bay campus and its satellite location in Spanish Pointe are huge tourist destinations. The 15-acre manicured Sarasota campus is filled with giant banyan, bamboo, and live oak trees, as well as a butterfly garden, scented garden, and edible garden.

Historic Spanish Point is a 30-acre environmental complex featuring an archaeological exhibit of a prehistoric shell mound known as the Garbage Heap, a turn-of-the-century pioneer homestead, a former citrus packing house, chapel, shipyard, gardens, and nature trails. The complex leads to an elevated viewing platform along the Intracoastal Waterway.

A stunning black and white photo of an orchid named Patricia Nebel The bishop Won Best in Show.

“Our judges were impressed by the talented photographers in our community,” said Romiecki. “And we’re excited to share a variety of scenic moments from our two campuses in the resulting exhibition.”

Several other eco-related summer photo contests are now over (save one that never ends), and the winners of at least two other photo contests are online, with others to be announced soon.

Magical Morning.JPG

The Magic Morning landscape photo won two top awards at the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s third annual wildlife photography competition

Also in Sarasota this summer, the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast hosted its third annual virtual photo contest. The winners were announced on August 2nd. Professional photographers and children doing their best were encouraged to participate as long as the photo highlighted the area’s natural beauty.

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Travel and wildlife photographer Susan Smart from Englewood won in the Show and Big Picture categories for the painting-like quality of her landscape photos Magic morning.

Forest service competition

The Florida Forest Service has an ongoing photo contest open to all. Pictures must be taken in one of Florida’s state forests and winners will be selected every three months.

Southwest Florida state parks include the Babcock Ranch Preserve in southeast Charlotte County, which was once part of the historic Crescent B Ranch. In 2006, the 67,618-acre property was purchased by the State of Florida and Lee County in what was then the largest federal purchase of land conservation in Florida history.

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Myakka State Park covers approximately 37,000 acres in southern Sarasota County. The 5,000-acre Peace River State Park is located in Desoto County near Arcadia. And the 32,000-acre Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest is mostly in Hendry County.

Quarterly state forest winners are automatically entered into the agency’s Photo of the Year competition. The photos of the winners of each segment of the competition will be published in various Florida Forest Service publications. Here’s how to participate.

National Marine Protected Areas Competition

NOAA’s Office of National Marine Protected Areas photo contest, featuring images of the 15 marine protected areas covering more than 783,000 square miles, ended September 5 and the winners will be announced next month.

Environmental reporting for WGCU is funded in part by the Volo Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, advancing education, and improving health.

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