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Birds get a special spotlight in the Wild NH Photo Contest. Photo by Chris Kenney.




Wild New Hampshire Photo Contest and Auction

Where: Massabesic Audubon Center, 26 Deerneck Road, Auburn
When: Submissions accepted until Tuesday, Sept. 2. The exhibit opens Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Cost: Free
Call: 668-2045
Visit: nhaudubon.org




Nature’s close-up
Start shooting now for Wild New Hampshire Photo Contest

07/31/14



 As she scrolls through photos that people have submitted over the years for the Wild New Hampshire Photo Contest, Jane Hanson pulls up a photo of a robin sitting on a branch.

“This is a photo that sort of provokes a reaction. It has a story to tell,” said Hanson, who is the organizer of the event at the Massabesic Audubon Center. “If you see that robin, it’s looking at you like ‘You stay away from my babies. This is my nest. You go away.’”
Hanson went on to say that one of the most important characteristics of a winning photo is that it tells a story.
“It would be so nice if there was a narrative with the photo,” she said. “Like if you asked [the photographer] where they got the photo, they’d say, ‘Well, I was walking in the middle of the woods by myself one day….’”
The Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn started accepting submissions last week for its eighth annual photo contest. Amateur photographers from all over the state are encouraged to participate, and the rules are simple: walk outside and take a photograph.
The contest hosts two different age groups: above and below the age of 18. Both groups can submit photos to any of the three different categories: wildlife (i.e. birds, mammals, invertebrates, etc.); landscapes and waterscapes; and wild plants. Subjects of the photographs can not be domestic, no matter how cute your puppy is.
“A picture of your horse or your cat is not acceptable,” said Hanson. “But a picture of a chipmunk is.”
The contest also hosts a “best in show” category as well as a “people’s choice” category where viewers can submit votes for their favorite photo during the photo exhibit, which is opening on Wednesday, Oct. 1.
Hanson said that animals tend to be the most popular category in the contest.
“It’s funny because [the subjects] shift from year to year,” said Hanson. “Some years we’ll say, ‘Boy, we got a lot of frogs this year.’ Another year, it might be ducks. You never know.”
What started out as a small-scale photo contest (there were only two youth submissions in its first year) has grown exponentially in the last few years. Last year there were 50 youth submissions and 156 adult submissions.
Once the call for submissions closes on Tuesday, Sept. 2, Hanson said there will be three nature photographers, and long-time affiliates with the Audubon Center, who will judge what goes into the show. About 120 submissions will be accepted and hung up at the Audubon Center. When the exhibit comes to a close in December, viewers will have the chance to bid on their favorite photographs in a silent auction. Hanson said all the proceeds go directly to funding the Audubon Center and the camps it runs year-round.
It was by chance that the contest originally took place in the summer, but Hanson believes this provides a good opportunity for young photographers to get outside and take pictures wherever they are.
“Most people go on vacations around here, so we’re encouraging them to take time to explore and take pictures,” she said.
Deborah Carr, who is a self-proclaimed amateur photographer and frequent contributor to the contest, said her introduction to nature photography was a simple as finding an excuse to take pictures.
“My husband started first taking pictures of our son in college, so he enjoyed sports photography,” she said. “But we needed an avenue to go to after he graduated. So we said, ‘Well, we’ll turn to nature!’”
Carr said she and her husband started taking pictures of sunrises and the birds that come out around that time of day. For her, nature photography separates itself from other forms because of the elusive element of nature.
“[It’s about] the challenge of trying to get the pretty yellow bird on the pretty purple flower,” she said, laughing. “The challenge is trying to get a picture of something you hadn’t seen before, or if you have, then trying to get a better picture [than before].”
No matter what aspect of nature you’d like to capture, the photo has to be taken in New Hampshire. 
“I’d start off in my backyard,” she said. “It’s amazing, the nature you can find in your backyard. You’ve got toads, frogs, insects, wildflowers, and it’s only a couple steps from your home. If you have the patience, you can find something.” 
 
As seen in the July 31, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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