The Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenge is a worldwide weekly challenge that was created in late December 2017 by photo-artist Judi Lapsley Miller. Now starting its third year and with the involvement of the Excio Photo Community to help reach a wider audience, the aim of the challenge is to encourage more people to get their photos off their hard-drives and to use them to advocate for the wildlife and wild spaces they care about.
In 2019, the focus of each weekly challenge was Story, Creativity, or Technical skills. Each week, participants were given a theme along with some ideas and challenged to create compelling images. See some of the best / favourite works from participants of the 2019 challenge that Judi has chosen and consider signing up for the 2020 challenge yourself!
Brendon says “Over the Christmas and New Year break I had a lot of driving to do getting from Porirua to Whangarei and back. In among the many rest stops I planned to visit Whakapapanui Stream and take a walk to stretch my legs and also see what birds could be found. I've never walked the track before and I saw and heard tui, tomtit, grey warbler, rifleman and whio which was wonderful. In particular, the whio were great to see. I saw a solitary whio on the way north and had the time to play around with shutter speeds to try and get the fast flowing water all silky.”
Using photo-artistic techniques, Leanne has beautifully captured the dynamic cascade of water from the wings of this beautiful bird. As a photo-artist myself, I see photos as the beginning and not the end of the creative process and I actively encourage others to take their photos to new realms.
The “Haiku” theme was especially challenging for many as it involved not just putting words to a photo, but poetry. Catherine’s reflections and words capture the sense of peace and majesty so many of us find being out in nature with our friends.
Catherine says “At Foxton Beach I stopped mid walk and reflected on the astonishing colours and reflections the sky and light were creating on the wet surface of the sand. My companions walked further on and then stopped to reflect on the beautiful landscape and scene they were a part of. I watched and reflected on the image of my friends standing on the surface of the world. The peace, tranquillity and sheer magnitude of our world and surroundings.”
A lot of fun was had with “Motion Blur”. Deborah knocked it out of the park with this stunning shot of running springboks, capturing the sense of the pack running while isolating a key subject.
Deborah writes “Springboks (South Africa's national animal) are known for the great height they reach when leaping into the air as they run from their foes (usually the big cats, but also hyenas). They move in big herds usually, grazing on the hoof. It is a tremendous sight to see them all on the run if a pride of lions, or cheetahs, are after them. They "pronk" into the air on all fours, and then run all together in a sea of bodies, leaping high over bushes or roads - even cars - to outrun the predators. Amazing stuff! I was on a photographic safari when I took this image, with a great wildlife photographer called Hannes Lochner, who taught us all how to pan wildlife effectively.”
Erica went to town with the “Complementary Colours” theme, producing a stunning set of images. The favourite was this tiny ferocious-looking blue fairy wren with a gorgeous orange bokeh background.
Jan came up with a horrifying picture for the “Litter” theme with this image of oceanic plastic pollution washed up on remote Greta Beach on Christmas Island; one lone crab is trying to make its way through the debris.
Dave took advantage of exposure bracketing to create this stunning image. He said “I did a lot of exposure bracketing on our trip to Arizona. The first time I went to a slot canyon (15 years ago) I was shooting film and there was no way to capture this kind of shot. Standing inside the canyon and looking to the sky, the sky is way too bright compared to the canyon walls to record in a single exposure. A 3 exposure bracket did the trick!”
Be Part Of The 2020 Challenges
Now, in 2020, the challenge begins once again with mostly new challenges plus some old favourites. The focus this year is on Creativity, Composition, and Advocacy. The challenges are accessible to all skills levels and gear and there are “extra credit” challenges to keep the more experienced folk on their toes. Each month Excio will publish some of the best contributions on the free Excio app and here on the Blog so do join us and use your creativity for #photographyforgood and make a difference.
Now more than ever we need to show others what we stand to lose if we don’t look after the natural world – Sign up, free of charge, here.