Tag Archives: National Wildlife Federation

Amazing image of gray herons comes after
much experimentation

I can always count on the annual National Wildlife Photo Contest to provide some amazing water-related photos — and the 2014 contest was no exception.

This is the 44th year for the contest, sponsored by National Wildlife magazine and the National Wildlife Federation. This year’s contest attracted more than 29,000 entries, according to a statement accompanying the winning photographs.

herons

The winner of the Grand Prize, Hungarian photographer Bence Mate, spent 74 nights in a blind over a period of several years to figure out how to capture this remarkable image of gray herons in Hungary’s Kiskunsag National Park.

By experimenting with his camera gear, he was able to capture a clear image of the birds and water in dim light, while also showing us the stars, which were not in the same depth of field. His home-made equipment was able to achieve good exposure throughout the scene.

“I made the photo with a fish-eye lens that was less than a meter away from the closest bird and had to be careful not to scare the herons with noise or light,” he was quoted as saying.

The birds kept moving during the 32 seconds that the shutter was open, “and they created interesting forms in front of the starry sky,” he noted.

frog

I like the whimsical appearance of this bullfrog, captured by Cheryl Rose of Hopkinton, Mass., as she explored Waseeka Wildlife Sanctuary in Central Massachusetts. The water seems to wrap around the log, becoming part of the sky with clouds in the distance.

“There were so many frogs in this pond,” she said, “but this one gave me the perfect pose.”

The photo won second place in the Other Wildlife category — a category for something other than birds, mammals, baby animals and backyard wildlife.

First place in the Baby Animals category went to Nathan Goshgarian of Woburn, Mass., who watching as this mallard duckling leaped at flies swarming over Horn Pond in his city.

ducks

“It had the incredible ability to select a single fly from the seemingly random movements of the swarm and launch itself out of the water,” he said.

Check out 17 stunning photographs, with comments from the photographers, on the National Wildlife website.

Amusing Monday: winning wildlife photos

I’m always pleased to present the winners of “National Wildlife” magazine’s annual photo contest. This year’s winning photos seem better than ever.

The magazine’s editors say they continue to be surprised by the quality of the entries — which reached 28,000 in the 2012 contest. And they were pleased to see expected and unexpected animal behaviors shown in the images.

To view the top winners and the stories behind the photos, go to the page “2012 Photo Contest Winners” on the National Wildlife Federation’s website.

The photo of the leopard seal and the baby penguin captures a moment after the seal ambushes the bird and starts playing with his food. The photographer, Amos Nachoum of San Francisco, had to hang out patiently under water to catch this and similar images.

The photo of sockeye salmon was captured when photographer David Hall of Woodstock, N.Y., tried to escape the swift current by taking refuge near a tree trunk. The stream is the Adams River of British Columbia.

Amusing Monday: Cartoon animals take us away

I recently stumbled on a series of cartoons created for the Public Broadcast System that features wild animal babies exploring the natural world. Geared to very young children, “Wild Animal Baby Explorers” appeals to children’s basic curiosity, and I can see how it could get kids interested in animals and ecosystems.

For adults, the cartoon may be more annoying than amusing, but if you have youngsters you may want to give it a chance.

I have never seen this series on our local affiliate, KCTS, but I may have just missed it. I also cannot find any local programming information about the show, which was launched at the end of 2010. See news release. If you know more about the show, feel free to comment.

The program is based on a children’s magazine published by the National Wildlife Federation. The ongoing website offers educational materials and, of course, a line of products for people to buy.

One can check out the video page for short clips taken from the 13-minute cartoon segments. Meet the individual animal babies on video, and learn more about their personalities through brief written descriptions by clicking on the rotating banner on the home page.

If you like what you see, DVDs of the series can be purchased from online retail stores.

Amusing Monday: Nature photos that take you away

A new collection of inspirational nature photographs has been compiled for the 2010 photo contest sponsored by National Wildlife Federation. The winners, just announced, touch you with their beauty, emotion and sometimes humor.

Natasha A. Svoboda of Columbus, Ohio, won first place in the division called Connecting People with Nature, Amateur, as part of the National Wildlife Federation's photo contest. (Click to enlarge)

The photo at right was taken by Natasha A. Svoboda on a rainy day in Ohio’s Whetstone Park. Svoboda took this picture of her sister looking at tadpoles swimming in small pool of water. The photo, which captured first place in the division called “Connecting People with Nature, Amateur,” demonstrates that stunning images may be all around us if we take time to look. Judges liked the “contrast between the lavender umbrella, dress and flowers and the brilliant green foliage” that takes on an “almost painterly composition.”

It is but one of the 32 wonderful winning photographs featured in a slide show in the online version of National Wildlife Magazine. Editors also are planning a slideshow of honorable mentions from the 50,000 entries received last year.

If you love nature photographs as I do, there is another contest worth watching. The Nature Conservancy has announced the finalists of its annual contest, and there is still time to vote for your favorites. Go to the “2010 Finalists” page to view the thumbnails, click to enlarge (I prefer the Flicker image), and then vote on the page “You Be the Judge.”

By the way, past winners from both contests can be viewed on the two websites mentioned above.

Environmental ed takes on social challenges

Happy Earth Day!

Environmental education has undergone a revolution since the first Earth Day 40 years ago, as I describe in a story I wrote for Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, which I called “The Evolution of Environmental Education.”

Poulsbo Elementary first-grader Ella Jagodzinske, 7, looks for worms under a rock in the school's courtyard wildlife habitat.
Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

Now in Washington state, requirements approved by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction are designed to take another huge step in preparing young people to understand all sorts of environmental tradeoffs and write environmental policies for the coming decades.

The word “sustainability” is emphasized in the new “Integrated Environmental and Sustainability Education Learning Standards.” Unlike other educational standards, this new approach does not include specific grade-level expectations.

The standards call for an understanding of: 1) Ecological, social and economic systems, 2) the natural and built environment, and 3) sustainability and civic responsibility.

I hope you’ll read the Sunday piece, which includes an interactive map of environmental programs and projects across the Kitsap Peninsula. You’ll meet Lisa Hawkins, a first-grade teacher who built an outdoor classroom — a certified wildlife habitat — in a courtyard at Poulsbo Elementary School.

This amazing young teacher has a special relationship with her students, especially when they are exploring freely and finding connections among living things.

Here are some links for creating habitats to foster environmental learning at all grade levels.

National Wildlife Federation

Time Out: Using the Outdoors to Enhance Classroom Performance

Certify Your Wildlife Garden

Creative Habitats for Learning

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Schoolyard Habitat Project (Chesapeake)

Schoolyard Habitat Program (Sacramento)

Lisa Hawkins, first-grade teacher at Poulsbo Elementary, engages her students in the wildlife habitat she and an earlier class created in a courtyard at the school.
Kitsap Sun photo by Larry Steagall

Amusing Monday: Contest compiles amazing photos

An amazing collection of wildlife photographs came together in the 2009 contest sponsored by National Wildlife Federation. These are pictures that touch you with their beauty, inspiration and humor.

Grand Prize, Amateur, 2099 National Wildlife Federation Photo Contest. Minke whale by Steffen Binke

The photo at right shows a minke whale descending the Great Barrier Reef off Australia. The picture, by Steffen Binke, won the Grand Prize in the amateur division.

To see a slide show of all 32 winners, visit the Web site of National Wildlife magazine. I hope you can take a few moments to enjoy them.

Other entries were so good that the magazine put together a slide show of 60 honorable mentions that are worth seeing.

If you are a photographer interested in entering the 2010 contest, you will find information on the online magazine’s Web pages.