The 2016 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest Winners
Selected from images taken in 57 countries (during 2015-16), the winners of the 7th Earth & Sky Photo Contest highlight beauties of the night sky and its battle with light pollution.
A stunning collection of
nightscape photos (night sky above landscape) are selected as the
winners and honorable mention photos of the
7th International Earth & Sky Photo
The contest was open to anyone of any age, anywhere in the world; to
both professional and amateur/hobby photographers.
Organized since 2009 by The World at Night (TWAN), the contest is a
collaboration with the
Optical Astronomy Observatory
and Global Astronomy Month, a program of
The contest public message is to preserve last
remaining natural night environments and night skies in the world,
supporting efforts by the International Dark Sky Association
and other organizations in the field.
The images were taken in 57 countries and territories including Algeria,
Antarctica, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil,
Canada, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, England,
Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guam, Hungary,
Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya,
Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Morocco, Norway, New Zealand,
Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Reunion (France), Romania, Russia,
Scotland, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka,
Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Ukraine, and USA.
According to the contest theme of “Dark Skies Importance,” the submitted photos were judged in two categories: “Beauty of The Night Sky” and “Against The Lights.” The selected images are those most effective in impressing public on both how important and delicate the starry sky is as an affecting part of our nature, and also how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Today, most city skies are virtually devoid of stars. Light pollution (excessive light that scatters to the sky instead of illuminating the ground) not only is a major waste of energy, it also obscures the stars, disrupts ecosystems and has adverse health effects.
The first prize in Against the Lights category (and the overall contest winner) goes to Alex Conu, who lives in Norway and is originally from Romania, for his image “Northern Lights above Lofoten” taken from a mountaintop in Lofoten Islands, Norway. “Mount Reinebringen is a pretty popular hike and the view from the top is worth the effort. On 2015 October 7, I knew something was brewing so I decided to camp on top of Reinebringen and shoot the northern lights above Reine, one of the most scenic villages in Norway."
Contest judge Jim Richardson comments that "Scenes from Mt Reinebringen
are often beautiful, but this one stood out. Somehow the aurora twisting
in the sky seems to echo the winding lights along the shores of the
coastal town in the far north." Judge David Malin adds "The delicate
tracery of the aurorae perfectly complement the enclosed harbor. Apart
from the aesthetics, the pin-point stars and well-judged exposure reveal
a high level of technical competence."
The first prize in Beauty of the Night Sky category goes to
Stephanie Ye from China, for "The Tail of Aurora" captured in March
2015 from northern Norway. "If the moon can be compared to a young lady,
the aurora shall be the silk ribbon which surrounded her. In Tromso, the
city of aurora, the sky had finally cleared after five days of
snowstorms. Thus, we drove all the way towards a lake in the suburban
area. Surprisingly, in that very night, we witnessed a scene of marvel
with the setting moon and aurora."
The first prize in Beauty of the Night Sky category goes to Stephanie Ye from China, for "The Tail of Aurora" captured in March 2015 from northern Norway. "If the moon can be compared to a young lady, the aurora shall be the silk ribbon which surrounded her. In Tromso, the city of aurora, the sky had finally cleared after five days of snowstorms. Thus, we drove all the way towards a lake in the suburban area. Surprisingly, in that very night, we witnessed a scene of marvel with the setting moon and aurora."
The photo wins 250 gift certificates from
Contest judge Yuri Beletsky notes: "Gorgeous composition with a story of
a photographer and beauty of the night sky. A reminder that photography
is all about creativity and capturing a moment." Jim Richardson adds:
"The aurora and the mountains got top billing in this picture, but it
was the supporting actors that got my vote. Stunning as the aurora was,
it was the photographer silhouetted against the sky, the stream
wandering its way through the frame, and the texture of the dunes that
brought subtlety and humanity into the picture."
"Standing at night in the Pasargadae world heritage complex
of ancient Persia palaces was a special experience. The sky of this
ancient place, now has been lightened with light pollution of the nearby
cities." Judge Jim Richardson notes that "Depicting light pollution is
often difficult. But this image goes one step further, suggesting how
out view of the sky has changed over the millennia, leaving us to lament
that we will never see the night sky over Pasargadae as the residents of
this ancient city saw it 2,500 years ago." Yuri Beletsky adds:
"Beautiful stitched panorama from a truly amazing location. Excellent
example when the light pollution plays significant aesthetic role in the
image, while it draws our attention to importance of preserving our
remaining dark skies."
The photo wins one year
subscription to the
The photo wins one year subscription to the
Click the photos to enlarge
Click the photos to enlarge
Honorable Mention Photos
About 70 other outstanding images are also selected by the judges. Some
of these images were voted by several judges and were competing closely
with the winner photos. These entries are awarded by honorable mention
in the contest
TWAN Guest Gallery
Notes on Original Ideas and Editing
A large number of images
with excellent technical achievement didn't reach the winners list
because of less attractive composition or
lack of original idea. Images with a person
lighting the sky with a flashlight or panoramas of the rising arc of the
quite popular in the entries,
we highly encourage
nightscape photographers to
other ideas too.
Compared to previous years there were fewer entries with over-cooked processing where the natural colors of night sky were altered by extreme white balance shift or applying too much color saturation. According to the contest chair Babak Tafreshi: "Digital processing is essential in any style of photography today, specially when dealing with challenging low-light conditions but its valuable to preserve the natural look and colors of the sky and the originality of a photograph (compared to digital art). I highly recommend avoiding the habit of saturated processing. Some of the entries shows the Milky Way central bulge in all colors of the spectrum, from romantic blue, to purple and red, compared to its natural pale-yellow color. This was not a major issue in the analog time where we were limited in processing and the night sky photography community was small and well informed about the nature of their imaging subject. If we consider night sky a part of our nature it should be treated the same way in photography. A photo of a blue sunset is clearly a wrong camera white balance or was taken on Mars! However due to our disconnection with the night sky in modern life most public and media are not familiar with natural sky looks and get excited with such exotic looking images and by sharing and publishing those the issue gets worse. The real winner images in our contest are not those with exotic colors and saturation but the creative and well planned photos captured in the right place at the right time, a scene which will not easily repeat with the same configuration of the Earth and sky."
The 2017 Contest
The contest submission
begins every year in March and ends on the Earth Day April 22, as part
of the Global Astronomy Month,
worldwide activities coordinated by
Astronomers Without Borders
and organizes by astronomy community to share beauty of the night sky
with others. The 8th International Earth & Sky Photo Contest will be
announced in early March 2017.
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