The Best News I’ve Heard About A Nature Photo Contest In Years…

and followers of Feathered Photography likely played a significant role.


1/640, f/9, ISO 400, Canon 40D, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM + EF 1.4 Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I’ve explained in a fairly recent post why I don’t enter photo contests. The only one I’ve ever entered was way back when I was a novice bird photographer (2008 I think) when I entered this juvenile Burrowing Owl image in the Utah State Fair Photography Contest and won first place in my category. To be perfectly honest the only reason I’m including this image today is because I felt I needed to include a photo in the post and this one has a connection to contests… 🙂

Readers will remember that exactly two weeks ago I uncharacteristically promoted a nature photography contest on my blog. Nancy Stocker, a representative of the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, had written me and asked for some help promoting their contest. This was her email on November 23rd:

  •   “For a number of years, the Audubon Society of Greater Denver has run a photo contest to raise money to help pay for their nature education programs for school kids, home-schooled kids and others at our nature center. We’ve always gotten excellent local, national and international entries, at least in part because we post ads extensively on Facebook websites that allow us to do so. Because of security issues and bullying, FB has started blocking anyone who posts on many different sites in one sitting. This has greatly hampered our publicity efforts and the reach for our contest.”

I plugged their contest here on Feathered Photography for three reasons: its primary purpose was to raise money to be used for conservation education of youngsters and others, I liked the ethics of the contest rules and (to be perfectly honest once again) I liked Nancy’s style and manner in our extended correspondence. It sounded like they urgently needed some help for a very good cause so I decided to provide the plug.

In comments on that post and feedback from social media I learned that some of my readers and others were considering entering the contest and some folks posted the link to my post and/or the contest itself on social media in order to promote it. But of course I had no idea how far it might go or how many would actually enter the contest, especially because at that point the deadline for entry was only a week away (Dec. 1).

But two days ago I received the following very good news from Nancy. Among other things she said:

  • “The Share the View photo Contest had a record number of entries this year. I can’t say for sure how much of that was related to your plug on your blog, but I’m pretty sure some of it was. We’re really gratified since the majority of our normal advertising was not possible.”


Ok, here’s my take on all this. For reasons out of their control the contest was hurting for entries only eight days before entry deadline. Seven days before deadline I published my post and apparently my readers and/or followers of my readers on social media responded in numbers that contributed significantly to “a record number of entries this year” a week later, even though they couldn’t advertise the contest as broadly as they had in the past.

That means more funding for conservation education and more contestants exposed to ethical contest rules and I couldn’t be happier about that. Credit certainly doesn’t go to me (I didn’t enter), it rightfully goes to my blog followers and by extension to some of those who follow you on social media.

If Nancy thinks you probably made a difference, and she does, then so do I. Only a few dozen of my viewers regularly comment on my blog which is seen almost 900 times daily (some of those views are repeat views by the same person) so we’ll never know how many entries directly resulted from your efforts but whatever the number it seems to have made a significant and positive difference.

So please take a well deserved collective bow. And if you didn’t enter this year there’s always next year. It’s all for a great cause and the prizes for winning are quite generous, especially for a relatively small contest.

So if you have the inclination snap away between now and then and don’t forget to enter next year.


PS – As subscribers to my blog no doubt noticed I had another brain fart last night and hit the “publish” button on my editing screen when I was only beginning to work on this post. That meant that the emails with the link to the post went out to subscribers prematurely so I had to change the post setting to “private” so the link didn’t work if you tried to open it.

Sincere apologies for the confusion and inconvenience. Color me embarrassed…



40 comments to The Best News I’ve Heard About A Nature Photo Contest In Years…

  • Jack Cowan

    I don’t reply often to your posts, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your photos and your commentary. I honestly can’t tell you which I like more. It seems as if every day I learn something new about birds from you. And you don’t just tell me about birds, you’ve got photos to illustrate what you have to say.

  • I don’t reply to your blog but I love it everyday. We moved to Florida from Ohio 3 years ago and I miss so many of the birds we saw there.

  • Marty K

    Let’s hear it for Ron and the wonderful Feathered Photography Community! Woot! Woot! 😀 I love the parallaxing owl shot (BTW, this shot was the first one on Google images for “parallax owl” today — congrats!)! I would LOVE that shot as a huge poster for my classroom. For some reason I’m imagining him saying “Hello dere” in his best Marty Allen voice.

    As for the bloggus interruptus last night, I figured you just hadn’t had your donut (or perhaps your Scotch/Bourbon) yesterday. 😉

    • Marty, truth be told it might have been the bourbon in front of me that made me hit the wrong button in the first place. You damn teachers sure have a knack for digging out the truth! 🙂

      • Marty K

        Only because we’ve been there! 😉 (BTW, Master of Malt is doing their bourbon advent calendar again this year. Just sayin’…)

  • Dick Harlow

    Sorry I’m late today, busy, busy day.
    Thank you for the explanation on the premature post. I was worried that somebody possibly hacked into or did something to it and it would infect all of us. Glad for the update.
    I have also had bad experiences with photo contests and therefore do not enter. However, I congratulate you on taking the lead on this one and researching it – sounds solid.
    Well done!

  • Jean Haley

    Well done!

  • Judy Eberspaecher

    This is absolutely my fav Burrowing Owl image. Love it and love your posts. I now am in Botswana, Africa and still always read your wonderful posts, Ron. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, however and wherever you celebrate. O

  • Laura Culley

    I gotta chime in with Susan (and others). Yeah, you made a mistake. And so…what??? That just proves you’re another imperfect human, just like the rest of us. We make mistakes. It happens. Life is messy. All we can do is hope the screw-ups don’t result in a huge impact, deal with the ramifications of our mistakes as rapidly as possible, stop dwelling on them and move forward (so we can go forth and make more!). Personally, I think we could all make a much better world just by forgiving each other our humanity–after all, we’re all in this spinning rock experiment together. And it’s not like your perfectionist self makes a lot of them. Heck, I can’t make it through the day without a dozen or so screwups! I’ve learned not to beat myself up so hard in my dotage. LOL!
    Also, like Susan, I’m not at all surprised that your readers made a difference! It’s who your readers are (which is why I keep hanging around–y’all make me happy!)! And since that birds of a feather thing happens, who knows the reach of your readers throughout the world?
    And, OK, I’ll admit I’m a softie. That upside-down head thing melts my heart and makes that AWWWWW sound happen every darn time! Now, I KNOW the science of it. I GET that. And still, it makes that AWWWW sound happen. Every. Darn. Time. 🙂 Mariah treats me to it about once a year, Jack maybe twice a year. And burrowing owls seem to just do it routinely throughout the day.

    • “And burrowing owls seem to just do it routinely throughout the day”

      They sure do, Laura – especially the juvies. It just kind of melts your heart, doesn’t it. This one did it repeatedly and both clockwise and counterclockwise. I thought it was going to screw its head off!

  • I am really glad for the Audubon Society of Greater Denver and their photo contest. And suspect that, as usual, you are under-estimating your influence. It is nice (and typical) of you to give credit to others, but please take some for yourself too.
    And thank you (so much) for the owl. Like Patty I needed it today.

  • Alice Beckcom

    Ron, that photo of the Burrowing Owl is really outstanding and not surprised that you won first prize. Thank you for posting it.

    It is so good to hear that you posting this contest on your blog, helped make the event successful. You have some amazing ‘blog followers’ and I enjoy reading their comments along with yours, on a daily basis.

  • Shirley

    A toast to Ron! My opinion is that the huge success of the Audubon Society of Greater Denver was thanks to you Ron. Maybe next year I should enter or at least donate, I wasn’t sure if I could enter because I live in Canada & not the US, will have to find that out for next year. Ron, will you put out a reminder next year as well? I wonder if that little Owl feels that looking at the world upside down makes the world seem right side up again? Again Ron, thank you for all you do!

  • Photo contests don’t apply to me…I only take grab shots–or reference shots,but I hope they get some good entries—and make some money. Love the Burrowing Ow….need it!!!

  • These days it’s hard to find generosity and kindness on the internet, but Ron, you’ve created a fine home for it. You were gracious to post info on our photo contest and in reading the comments, it’s clear that your followers are very thoughtful, too. On behalf of the “Share the View” Denver Audubon contest team, we thank all of you. It was, indeed, a tough year getting the word out through Facebook. Due to the hard work of our volunteers and support from good folks like you, we pulled it out, with a record amount earmarked for our education program. I also appreciate reading input on the challenges some people encountered when entering. We’re always looking to improve the contest and the comments will be addressed. Keep up the great work!

    • What a pleasant surprise to hear from you, Wendy.

      Yes, my blog followers are a wonderful group with big hearts and I enjoy my interaction with them immensely. And I couldn’t be happier that your conservation education program now has a “record amount” to work with.

      If anyone “keeps up the great work” I hope it’s you folks at Audubon Society of Greater Denver!

  • Susan Stone

    Somehow I’m not surprised that your readers made a big difference for this contest. From what I’ve seen you have a really great group of followers. For what it’s worth, when I saw the post last night, I figured it was another glitch and that the link wouldn’t work – which turned out to be true. All of us make mistakes sometimes, so no need to be embarrassed. Mistakes are part of the human condition. I love the Burrowing Owl photo – the little guy looks like he’s hanging onto that wall for dear life.

    • Thanks for the ego salve Susan. This screwup looked particularly stupid because I’d done the same thing only a few weeks before, after doing it only once in the previous 8 years or so. Probably another symptom of getting old… 🙂

  • Marina schultz

    I entered and I wasn’t a member or part of group so what Zaphir says doesn’t make sense .. I just paid my 10 dollars per submission…

  • Marina schultz

    I entered 3 Pictures !!!!! But I had problems resizing and my pictures were super tiny .. she gave instructions but I’ve never done it before .soo i sent them anyway .. tiny

  • Judy Gusick

    Yippee for whatever reason! You do deserve some of the credit as if you hadn’t put it out on your blog others would not have known about it.! Glad it went well for them even if Zaphir couldn’t enter……….. The burrowing owl is a wonderful way to start the day.:)

  • Diane Bricmont

    That first sip coffee tastes so much better with a Burrowing Owl! Thanks, Ron!

  • Steven E Hunnicutt

    I have entered the NWF photo contest over the years. One year I got honorable mention, a photo of my camera on a tripod taken a picture of an bald eagle in the nest. The eagle can be seen in the view screen, as for other pictures of wildlife, just out of my ability to compete. Learn since that most of the pictures that won used bait to set up picture and NWF is now closely montering . Contest are fun to enter, see how you compare to others, winning is not the point.

    • “Contest are fun to enter, see how you compare to others, winning is not the point.”

      That’s a wonderful perspective on photo contests, Steven. I wish others had the same attitude. Many folks are so driven to win that there’s lots of cheating going on and many contests haven’t stressed field ethics in their rules in the past because they’re afraid that would limit the number of entries – a vicious cycle IMO.

  • Zaphir Shamma

    I tried to enter this contest based on your blog post. If Ron is promoting it, it has to be good. Sadly, I was not allowed to compete. While I was still within the deadline for submission, I wasn’t part of the orginization running the contest and was too late to join that orginization. So you have to join the group that runs the contest by a certain date (Dec1) and if you do,then you can enter the contest in Denver by it’s deadline (Dec 5th I think it was). It was frustrating, but not the end of the world. Thank you Ron for sharing this contest with your readers…maybe next time.

    • That’s interesting, Zaphir – first time I’ve heard of the issue. I hope others didn’t have the same problem. Maybe we’ll find out in the comments down the line…

      OK, I just read the rules again and saw this: “However, if a photographer has created an account on the contest website by December 1, entries may still be submitted until 11:59pm (Mountain Time) on December 5, 2017.”

      So it looks like you had to “register” by Dec. 1 (the “one week” deadline I mentioned in my post) in order to enter the contest by Dec. 5. That time lag seems a little strange to me but perhaps there’s a good reason for it…

      • Zaphir Shamma

        I discovered the same thing as I was researching why I couldn’t enter if I was before the deadline. There are 2 deadlines and I failed to notice that fact.Dec 3rd is when I tried to enter. Good for the Denver cutoff, but too late for the group that runs the contest. Next time I say :). I appreciate you letting us know about the contest.