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2021 #NatureNOW Photo Contest

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​Welcome to the Waterman Conservation Education Center photo contest.  We are excited to be back in 2021 celebrating our natural world through your images!  New this year, we will be producing a calendar featuring winning images.  View the categories below for full contest submission and sponsorship details.

Image Categories

  • Plant life and landscape – images can be of any scale from macro to landscape to astronomic images

  • Wildlife – images must feature one or more mammals, reptiles or amphibians – macro, micro or otherwise

  • Birdlife – images must feature one or more birds

  • People in Nature – people out hiking or otherwise enjoying nature.

  • Waterman Properties – any nature image produced from one of our six nature reserves:

    • Apalachin Marsh

    • Brick Pond

    • Hilton Road Interpretive Center and Trails

    • IBM Glen

    • Hiawatha Island

    • Pettus Hill Preserve

Except for the Waterman Properties category, images can be photographed anywhere in the world, and beyond!

Contest submission is open to adults ages 18 and up.  Youth entries, anyone younger than 18, are permitted with written consent from a parent or guardian.

Important notes:

  • Wildlife (including birds) images must be truly wild and not captive.  Animals at zoos, game farms or other captive areas will be disqualified.  Baited images will also be disqualified, as will images of people feeding animals.  [Links to ethical wildlife photography to be provided]

  • Judges reserve the right to reclassify images between categories if needed.


Winning images will be featured on a 2022 nature calendar.  Featured photographers and Gold and Silver tiered sponsors will receive free calendar(s) as noted below.

Submission Schedule

  • The contest is active from Saturday, May 15 at noon EDT through Wednesday, September 1 at 11:59pm EDT

  • Submission schedule details:

    • Saturday, May 15th at Noon Eastern Daylight Time

      • Early bird submissions begin ($6 for 1 or $25 for 5 entries)

    • Thursday, July 15th at 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time

      • Early bird submissions close

      • Late submission period begins ($7 for 1 or $25 for 4 entries)

    • Deadline Extended to Wednesday, September 1th at 11:59pm Eastern Daylight Time!

      • Submissions closed

  • Judging will occur in September with winners notified late September.

  • Contest winners will be solicited for raw or original images which will be due no later than October 5, 2021.

  • Calendars will be available in November

  • Prize awards ceremony will occur in mid-November 2021

Paid Sponsorship*

Support our mission by investing in a paid sponsorship.  Photo Contest sponsorship tiers are defined below.

Bronze - $20 to $49.99

  • Business Name/Logo on website in connection with contest

Silver - $50 - $99.99

  • Business Name/Logo on website in connection with contest

  • Business Name/Logo on digital and printed flyer

Gold - $100 - $249.99

  • Business Name/Logo on website in connection with contest

  • Business Name/Logo on digital and printed flyer

  • Business Name or Logo on 2022 calendar for 3 months

  • One free calendar

Platinum - >= $250.00

  • Business Name/Logo on website in connection with contest

  • Business Name/Logo on digital and printed flyer

  • Business Name or Logo on 2022 calendar for 12 months

  • Three free calendars


*Sponsorship is described as a donation of cash, gift cards or “in kind” goods or services provided to support the photo contest in the form of prizes, event raffle items or to support calendar production or other funding associated with the photo contest and Waterman Conservation Education Center.

Submission Fees

Contest fees cover costs associated with administration and promotion of the contest, the contest gallery and maintenance of our interpretive center and six nature preserves.

Early bird submission fees (through October 14th):

  • Adults - $6 for 1 or $25 for 5 entries

  • Youth - Free up to the first five images.  Entries exceeding five images are the same as adults.

Late submission fees (October 15th through contest close):

  • Adults - $7 for 1 or $25 for 4 entries

  • Youth - Free up to the first four images.  Entries exceeding four images are the same as adults.


Eligible Participants

Contest is open to all excluding the following:

- Employees of Waterman Conservation Education Center and immediate family members are not eligible to participate.

- Contest administrator and judges are not permitted to submit.


Thanks to our very generous sponsors, we are offering cash and prizes exceeding $1000!

There will be a total of 9 prize winners and 6 honorable mentions, awarded as follows:

1.  Adult grand prize

2.  One adult winner in each category (five total)

3.  Youth 1st, 2nd and 3rd over all categories (three total)

4.  Honorable mention will be recognized in each category and age group

Prizes will be divided amongst the winners and include:

  • Cash Prizes of $200 for grand prize winner, $50 for each adult category winner.  Youth will receive cash equivalent giftcards for $50 for first place and $25 for 2nd and 3rd

  • Red River Paper giftcards totaling $200

  • One two hour one-on-one photography workshop with Teri Franzen of Teri Franzen Photography, tailorable by the winner.  Instruction can include a field shoot, basic to advanced exposure techniques, beginner to advanced post-processing in Lightroom/Photoshop, portfolio reviews, etc.

  • One full-day one-on-one photography workshop with Bill Baburchak of Long Creek Photography, tailorable by the winner.  Instruction can include a field shoot, basic to advanced exposure techniques, post-processing, etc.

  • Kingston Technology 32 GB USB memory stick donated from Unicorn Electronics will be awarded one each to youth first and second place winners

  • Each of the photographers with images featured in the calendar will receive a free 2022 calendar.

Photography Ethics

The rules of ethical photography, especially when photographing wildlife, will be strictly enforced.  Photos created through baiting or other questionable means will be disqualified.  Captive animals are not permitted.  See links below for further details about ethical wildlife photography:

Submission Format

Submit your jpeg images in any aspect ratio with the longest side no smaller than 1024 dpi.  Image size must not exceed 4meg.  Include your name, image category and image title.

For example, for entrant Kathy Smith, white-tailed deer photographed, filename:


Images must represent the scene as it appeared to the photographer.  Minor editing is permitted, including contrast, brightness, sharpening, color, black and white, cropping.  Sensor dust cleanup is permitted but no physical elements may be removed or added to the scene.  Winners will be notified in early December and will be required to provide the raw or original jpg image.


You retain full copyright of your images.  By entering this photo contest you are agreeing that Waterman Center may choose to display a print of your image in their contest gallery.  At the end of the display period you will receive the printed image.  Images may also be used in publicity surrounding the contest.  Waterman Center will not use your images for any non-contest related purpose without express, written consent from the photographer.


Meet the Judges

Melissa Rowell - Melissa Rowell is an upstate New York wildlife photographer who travels extensively.  Melissa and her husband live on 15 heavily wooded acres with a pond, where she regularly sees an abundance of wildlife that enriches her life in many ways.  Melissa's love of photography stems from her father who was a newspaperman and photographer.  He instilled in her a passion for photography.  Melissa accompanied him on many assignments and learned to develop film and make prints.  Among her many honors, Melissa earned the title of  Ameteur Honorable Mention in the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards and First Runner Up in the Birds category of the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) Showcase Learn more about Melissa on Facebook @Melissa C. Rowell and Instagram @MelissaCRowell01.

Diane Butler, PhD - Diane is the Director of the Binghamton University Art Museum.  She received her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Art History, Criticism and Conservation from Cornell University.  Diane is an excellent judge of artistic qualities of an image which complements our judging panel very well.

JW Johnston - JW Johnston is a fine art photographer whose bodies of work range from representational natural landscapes to abstracts of form and texture. His newest, most autobiographical, project - ‘Home Body’ - examines the imprints of time and family on his boyhood home in Whitney Point, NY, to which he has returned and now lives.  Johnston’s work has been exhibited in multiple solo shows and exhibits, including Anthony Brunelli Fine Arts and Orazio Salati Studio and Gallery in Binghamton.  He has received numerous awards and has been featured in publications including Black & White and Outdoor Photographer magazines.  JW is an adjunct photography instructor at SUNY Broome Community College, Binghamton, NY and also conducts independent workshops.  Learn more about JW on his website at or on Instagram @jwjohnstonfineart

Thank you to our generous sponsors!

Contest Home
Image Categories
Submission Details
Submission Fees
Eligible Participant
Phtography Ethics
Submisson Format

Contest is now closed. Judging is scheduled for September 18th.  Winners and finalists to be notified the following week.  Final announcements in early October.  Good luck!

Our Sponsors
Wild Birds Unlimited - Nature Shop
Two Rivers Photography Club
Unicorn Logo with Web Address.jpg
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