7th Annual Focus on Nature Photo Contest Winners

The Palm Beach Post, and its multimedia site CLIK/HEAR, are honored to present the winners of the 7th Annual Focus on Nature Photo Contest. More than 1,600 entries were received during the contest’s 3-week period. They were judged by educator and award-winning nature photographer John J. Lopinot, and Jennifer Podis, Greg Lovett and Joe Forzano of the Post’s Multimedia Department.

GRAND PRIZE. “Attempted Escape Grassy Waters,” by STEVEN SCHERER. “The image was taken at Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach, with a Nikon D300 and Nikon 70-300mm lens. There were three baby gators right by the dock, then I saw an adult floating toward them. The adult grabbed a baby, went under water and I started shooting. Suddenly it came up and this was one of the images. Like many things it was just being at the right place at the right time.”

ANIMALS, FIRST PLACE. “Baby Bittern,” by KIT SNIDER. “This baby Least Bittern was photographed at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach FL. I was using a Canon Rebel XS and a Canon 100-400 mm lens. I had been watching a pair of courting Least Bitterns and they built their nest relatively close to the boardwalk. On this lucky day, a very young one took his first big steps into the world. He barely hung on to the branches with his huge feet and had a look of real surprise. I’ve made thousands of photos of birds, but this is my favorite.”

ANIMALS, SECOND PLACE. “Osprey Catching Fish,” by MICHAEL GRANT. “I captured this image at Bear Point Sanctuary in Fort Pierce with a Nikon D7000 body and Nikkor 70-300VR lens. I watched this osprey and its mate circle around looking for fish for about an hour. Finally, this one dropped out of the sky and crashed into the water directly in front of me. I fired off this lucky shot as it emerged with its prize.”

ANIMALS, THIRD PLACE. “Coming in to Roost at Sunset,” by SUZANNE PAYETTE. “Fortunately, I was at Viera Wetlands this particular day as the sun was setting. My Canon 1D Mark II was locked and loaded with my trusty Canon 100-400mm lens. I walked along one particular road, which had the best view of the sun… when I saw the incoming Great Blue Heron. I ran and got four images, this being the best. My passion is nature photography, and as a serious amateur I feel so blessed to have these types of opportunities come my way.”

ANIMALS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Foggy Morning Landing,” by KENNETH CRAIG. “This duck flew in unexpectedly on a foggy morning shoot at Grassy Waters Preserve. The sun was just peeking through and provided the contrast to separate the duck from the fog.”

ANIMALS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Great Egret,” by SUZANNE KING. “This was taken at Merritt Island. I didn’t want to get just a portrait of the egret, my goal was to capture something more interesting and active. I liked this one because the bird appears to be dancing on the water.”

ANIMALS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Barred Owl Flying at You,” by GREG MATTHEWS. “This Barred owl was on some ranch land in the middle of the state. I was able to get a shot of it as it flew off to meet its mate calling in the distance. I imagine this is the last thing a lot of mice have seen.”

ANIMALS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Bobcat Kitten,” by RUTH PANNUNZIO. “Taken at Green Cay Wetlands with a Canon 7d, 100-400mm lens. Seeing the four bobcat kittens is an experience I will never forget. You don’t get this opportunity very often. Seeing the babies running around and playing was just so special. They had beautiful blue eyes and lots of energy.”

CLOSE-UPS, FIRST PLACE. “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd,” by JESSICA ROWLEY. “Asian Grey Weevils, photographed at The Wakodahatchee Wetlands using a Nikon Coolpix P90. Now for some reason on this particular morning the boardwalk was covered with these little guys, some stacked 2 and even 3 high. I don’t know if it was a mating ritual or just some great balancing act, but literally the next day there was not a single one in sight.”

CLOSE-UPS, SECOND PLACE. “Butterfly Eyes,” by TRISH SMITH. ‘It is a close up photograph of butterfly eyes. The camera I used was my Nikon D80. The lens is an AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED. Fantastic macro lens! My passion and love is macrophotography of small animals, insects and other creatures but I love all types of photography. The beauty is in the close up and fine details in life that are so often missed with the naked eye. Macrophotography allows me to be a part of this world and view life from a different perspective!”

CLOSE-UPS, THIRD PLACE. “Florida Brunch,” by CHARLOTTE GARRISON. “Walking past my low hanging Staghorn fern I observed a slight movement amongst the leaves and discovered this green lizard in the process of swallowing a tree frog. The frog was already halfway into his throat so I ran to get my Olympus VR-310 camera and came back to find the legs still in the air. My presence didn’t seem to bother the lizard as he continued to devour his “brunch” but he kept his eye on me.”

CLOSE-UPS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Inside a Desert Rose (Bug’s Eye View),” by MARILYN GOLDBERG. “What a bug would see as it walks inside a desert flower. Photograph was taken in my garden in Boca Raton.”

CLOSE-UPS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Green Fly,” by JORGE GOMEZ.

CLOSE-UPS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Bottom’s Up,” by Dianne Sauve. “I spent the better part of an afternoon anxiously crawling through grass while following honey bees in clover. Although allergic to bees, I was determined to get some edgy ‘face shots.’ Imagine my surprise to see the beauty of a bee’s bottom laden with buttery-yellow pollen! The pale clover, thick pollen and warm winter sun combined to lend a softness in nature that gave me a new appreciation for a creature I otherwise shy away from. Taken with my Nikon D90, 105mm AF VR micro lens, ambient light.”

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, FIRST PLACE. “Limitless Power,” by JAMES H. WILLIAMS. “The air was still and the night very quiet save for the sporadic rumble of thunder coming from the storm clouds out over the ocean. There were numerous lightning bolts that scampered between clouds and lit them from within, but I was lucky to catch this one in that it is particularly well-defined and took a circuitous route to get to its terrestrial destination, which luckily, was not the building in the foreground. The photograph was shot with a Nikon D70 using a Nikkor 28-85 lens set to f/4.5 at 28mm.”

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, SECOND PLACE. “Hawks at Sunset,” by MARK THORP DUXBURY. “The picture was taken at sunset at the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. I used a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens on a Canon 7D. The exposure was 1/640 second at f/5.6. I watched as a red shouldered hawk landed in a bare cypress tree. I liked the scene and really liked the light so I took a couple of pictures and was surprised when another hawk landed. I waited until a flock of water birds passed in the background and took the picture.”

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, THIRD PLACE. “Red Mangrove,” by SUZANNE KING. “This was taken at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on a dreary day. Originally I didn’t think I had enough light for the shot but I feel the subdued light complemented the scene. The mirrored images and simplicity of it gave it a peaceful quality I tried to capture.”

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “The Backyard for Nature,” by CHERYL BINNALL. “Riverbend Park. One of my favorite parks that I can ride my bike to and spend the day at taking pictures.”.

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Spanish Moss Sunset at Bok Tower,” by DAVID PULGAR. “These trees at Bok Tower are covered in Spanish Moss. The photo was taken at sunset with the light breaking through the trees.”

LANDSCAPES AND SCENICS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Grassy Waters Reflections,” by DAWN WATKINS. Shot at Grassy Waters Preserve.

OCEANS, FIRST PLACE. “It’s Only a Moment Away,” by DOUGLAS KAHLE. “Photographed with the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, using 2 Ikelite strobe lights set to 1/4 power. The shot was taken at Crystal River, Florida in February 2012, at a place called Three Sisters Springs. Like humans, manatee mothers love to show off their babies. This mother let me float right next to them for several minutes. When she decided I had taken enough photos, she slowly swam away; I did not follow.”

OCEANS, SECOND PLACE. “Check Us Out,” by ELAINE BLUM. “Shot with Canon G-11 w/Canon WP-DC34 Housing, at Phil Foster Park under the Blue Heron Bridge in Rivera Beach. Squid are one of my favorite underwater encounters. I was fortunate enough to spend 30-plus minutes observing the color displays on this set of squid when they all took on a plaid like display of colors just inches below the surface.”

OCEANS, THIRD PLACE. “Juno Beach Fireworks,” by RICHARD WATSON. “I took the photo with a Nikon D300S, using a Nikkor 10-24mm f3.5 lens. Lightning at night offers the opportunity to open the shutter and just wait and the contrast created by the lightning against a dark sky is usually dramatic. This particular image was 41 seconds long when the lightning bolt danced across the sky. As soon as it popped I closed the shutter and was rewarded with a great picture of fireworks much more dramatic than those created by cardboard tubes filled with gunpowder.”

OCEANS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Mating Green Turtles” by ELAINE BLUM. “Shot with Canon G-11 w/Canon WP-DC34 Housing. Very awesome surface encounter with mating green turtles while snorkeling off of Lantana Public Beach FL offers the best of wildlife both above and below the surface. There is no better place to be living.”

PLANTS, FIRST PLACE. “A Reflecting Palm,” by MARCELLO CALVO GOMES. “My picture was taken at Green Cay Wetlands last summer. I used a Canon T2i camera with a 55-250mm lens. I am always looking for inspiration in nature. I was exiting the boardwalk when I noticed a break in the widespread duckweed ‘blanket’ and saw the reflecting image of a palm treee. My interest in nature photography is very deep and comes from my countryside childhood in Brazil. Nature is and will always be what nurtures my passion for photography.”

PLANTS, SECOND PLACE. “Leaf Droplet,” by KATHLEEN FOSSELMAN. “I love taking different views of flowers and plants and find that the best time to take pictures is early in the morning just when the sun starts to rise and shine into the plants. Dew, rainfall or even the sprinklers provide the water drops on the plants. This photo was taken in my backyard with a Nikon D2X, f/7.1, 1/250 sec, ISO 100. I used a Nikon Macro lens 105 mm with three tubes and flash using manual exposure.”

PLANTS, THIRD PLACE. “Sunlight Magic,” by EDWARD SLATER. “This photo was taken at Fairchild Gardens in Miami. I was in the right place at the right time, because the sun was beaming behind the [leaf]. I used a Nikon D300 with an 18-200mm Nikkor lens.”

PLANTS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “American White Lily,” by JIM BINNALL. “White lily caught between grass reeds was photographed at Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach at the very end of the boardwalk. The camera I use is a Nikon D7000 with a 55-300mm lens. I was just doing my favorite thing, hunting for and trying to capture some of the wonderful beauty the world has to offer with my camera!”

PLANTS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Three Water Lilies,” by MICHAEL RAIMAN. “This photo was taken in Vero Beach at sunrise on a friend’s pond. I used a Nikon D-50 on a tripod. The lens was an 80-300MM.”

PLANTS, JUDGES’ RECOGNITION. “Arrowroot Flower,” by ALEXANDRIA SCHAFFER. “This is an Arrowroot (Thalia geniculata) flower photographed at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Seminole Tribe of Florida Museum and Boardwalk.”

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