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Photo of Kangaroo in a Burned Forest Wins 2021 BigPicture Competition

Photo of Kangaroo in a Burned Forest Wins 2021 BigPicture Competition

Photo of Kangaroo in a Burned Forest Wins 2021 BigPicture Competition 1

The BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition 2021, which celebrates and illustrates the rich diversity of life on Earth and promotes conservation through photography, has unveiled its winners and finalists across seven categories.

The BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition welcomes high-quality nature, wildlife, and conservation images from photographers all over the world. It is judged by a panel of nature and conservation photography experts including Suzy Eszterhas, Morgan Heim, and bioGraphic contributing photo editor Sophie Stafford.

The Grand Prize of $5,000 is awarded for the best overall image in the competition which will also be featured in the annual exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, while first-place winners across seven categories will each receive $1,000 cash price and also have their winning photographs featured in the exhibit.

The judged categories are as follows: “Art of Nature,” “Aquatic Life,” “Winged Life,” “Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora,” “Terrestrial Wildlife,” “Human/Nature,” and “Photo Story: Out of the Ordinary,” which requires submissions to contain 4-6 images with captions.

Grand Prize

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Jo-Anne McArthur | Grand Prize Winner
Image Title: Hope Amidst the Ashes

Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur received the grand prize with her striking photograph of a female eastern grey kangaroo with a joey in her pouch. McArthur encountered the family of two shortly after the devastating bushfire near Australia’s southeast coast, which have burned over 17 million hectares (42 million acres) of the Australian landscape in 2019 and 2020 alone.

For the photographer, the captured image means more than just highlighting two of Australia’s most iconic species — the kangaroo and the eucalyptus tree in the background — as this moment also symbolizes hope and “that life can persist against all odds.”

Art of Nature

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Sarang Naik | Art of Nature Winner
Image Title: Rain Dance

The category “Art of Nature” showcases the best of abstract expressions of nature or science, with endless creative possibilities. Sarang Naik’s winning photo depicts a golden plume of spores that have risen from the gills of a mushroom cap outside of Toplepada, India.

A small number of these spores will land on soil, ready to produce new mushrooms, while many more will find their way into the atmosphere to provide a solid core for the condensation of water into clouds and rainfall, serving the forests around the world and sustaining future generations of fungi. However, as droughts worsen due to climate change, fewer mushrooms spring up, reducing spore-spurred rains and consequently leading to more intense droughts in the future.

Aquatic Life

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Yung-Sen Wu | Aquatic Life Winner
Image Title: New Kid in School

Yung-Sen Wu captured the photo of streamlined barracuda after days of braving the currents of the Blue Corner — one of the best dive sites in the world, situated in the southern part of Palau — in an effort to gain their trust and be allowed into the school to capture this image.

Winged Life

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Shane Kalyn | Winged Life Winner
Image Title: Beak to Beak

Shane Kalyn from Vancouver, Canada took top honors in this category with his close-up of two ravens preening each other’s feathers. The photographer had observed the gift-sharing, grooming, and singing courtship behaviors of these birds for three winters but had never come across a moment like this before.

Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora

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Fran Rubia | Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner
Image Title: Another Planet

Fran Rubia captured a drone shot of iron oxide, deposited during past eruptions, flowing down the sides of volcanos in Fjallabak Nature Reserve in Iceland, where the last eruption took place in 1480.

“Because the image seems to be photographed in another world, on another planet, it seemed to me a primal place without any human alteration, which made it even more special,” says Rubia about his winning image.

Terrestrial Wildlife

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Michelle Valberg | Terrestrial Life Winner
Image Title: Boss

Michelle Valberg’s photograph of a Kermode bear — a subspecies of the American black bear — was captured on a remote island in northern British Columbia. The Nikon ambassador and first Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence crouched low to the ground and waited for the moment bear pulled his head out of the water and shook, sending droplets of water all around.

To Valberg, wildlife photography means “to look into the eyes of the wild and see ourselves reflected, to understand that we are, after all, intrinsically entwined.”

Human/Nature

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Ralph Pace | Human/Nature Winner
Image Title: Sign of the Tides

The COVID-19 pandemic consequences seeping into the wildlife were captured by Ralph Pace. Single-use plastic production skyrocketed throughout the last year which has caused a devastating effect on the environment — gloves and masks have piled up in landfills or found their way into the ocean.

The impactful photograph depicts a curious California sea lion encountering a floating face mask, and although the photographer saw a mask underwater for the first time, Pace says that unfortunately, it is very likely that the sea lion has seen many more since.

Photo Story: Out of the Ordinary

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Peter Mather | Photo Story Winner (one of six images)
Series Title: Ice Bears

Peter Mather won this category for his photos of grizzly bears in Canada’s Yukon Territory. The bears are facing the impact caused by climate change and other human activities which have led to sparse salmon runs, reduced river flows, and shorter winters. All of these put their lives in jeopardy and make it difficult to survive. The full six-image series can be seen here.


The full gallery of winners and finalists can be found on The BigPicture competition website.


Image credits: All photos individually credited and provided courtesy of The BigPicture. These images originally appeared in bioGraphic, an online magazine about science and sustainability, and the official media sponsor for the California Academy of Sciences’ BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition.

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109-Year-Old Camera Store Burned Down in Jacob Blake Riots, Site Visited by Trump

109-Year-Old Camera Store Burned Down in Jacob Blake Riots, Site Visited by Trump

A camera store that had been trading for 109 years got caught in the crossfire of riots taking place in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake. President Trump has visited the former site of Rode’s Camera Shop after it was burned to the ground during the protests.

Current owner Tom Gram had been an employee at the store for 41 years before taking the reins from the Rode family, who opened the shop back in 1911. Gram ran the shop with business partner Paul Willette, who detailed the devastating sentimental losses to Kenosha News:

This was just a building, but people’s memories were inside. That’s what is killing me. A woman had just come in Monday and brought in a photo of her grandparents in elementary school, wanting it to be restored. I left it on my desk. Now, it’s all gone. Our customers lost family memories.

“We understand the protests, but why destroy these businesses?” added Gram.

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109-Year-Old Camera Store Burned Down in Jacob Blake Riots, Site Visited by Trump 11

109-Year-Old Camera Store Burned Down in Jacob Blake Riots, Site Visited by Trump 12

So historic is the store that even President Trump paid the site a visit, despite the co-owners stating outright that they “didn’t want anything to do with President Trump.” Despite the current owners declining the visitation offer, former owner John Rode III was drafted in to host the President. “I just appreciate President Trump coming today; everybody here does,” Rode said.

So, what’s next for the store owners? Gram says he’ll likely retire earlier than originally planned, while Willette says he’ll be looking for a new job, although he didn’t specify if it would be in the same field.

All images Shealah Craighead, courtesy of the White House.

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109-Year-Old Rode’s Camera Shop Burned Down in Kenosha

109-Year-Old Rode’s Camera Shop Burned Down in Kenosha

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Rode’s Camera Shop, a 109-year-old camera store, burned down last week during rioting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparked by the shooting of 29-year-old African-American man Jacob Blake by a police officer.

The store first opened in 1911 and became a fixture in the community for over a century as a place to buy camera gear and get photos processed in the lab. The business was owned by the Rode family until eight years ago when it was purchased by business partners Paul Willette and Tom Gram. Gram had worked at the store for 41 years prior to taking over.

“This was just a building, but people’s memories were inside. That’s what is killing me,” Willette tells Kenosha News. “A woman had just come in Monday and brought in a photo of her grandparents in elementary school, wanting it to be restored. I left it on my desk. Now it’s all gone. Our customers lost family memories.”

As camera sales shrunk in recent years, the store was able to stay in business thanks to its photo lab and services.

“We didn’t make a ton of money doing this, but we loved it. We loved our customers,” Willette continues.

“We understand the protests, but why destroy these businesses?” Gram tells Kenosha News.

President Donald Trump visited the burned-down camera store on Tuesday during his tour of Kenosha.

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President Donald Trump stands with former store owner John Rode and his family at the burned-down building. Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The camera store is also at the center of new controversy today related to the role it played in Trump’s tour. It was reported that the co-owners had declined President Trump’s request to be part of the visit and photo op.

“I think everything he does turns into a circus and I just didn’t want to be involved in it,” Gram tells WTMJ.

“I said no, thank you — I didn’t want anything to do with President Trump,” Willette tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “If it were any other president I would, but not this one. I can’t begin to describe my frustration with him. I politely declined coming down there. I didn’t want to be part of that fiasco.”

After Gram declined, President Trump brought in former owner John Rode III (seen in the official White House photos above). Rode still owns the property, but the president is being accused of being deceptive by introducing Rode as “owner of Rode’s Camera Shop” and referring to it as Rode’s store.

“I just appreciate President Trump coming today; everybody here does,” Rode told reporters gathered at the building. “We’re so thankful that we got the federal troops in to help because once they got here, things did calm down quite a bit. And our city police and sheriff and fire departments are awesome. They worked harder than you can believe, 24/7.”

Gram tells WTMJ that he’s disappointed that Rode’s views were presented as those of current ownership.

“I think he needs to bring this country together rather than divide it,” Gram says. “I think there’s a lot of good people in this community and to say that only law enforcement is correct is not the message we need to hear right now.”

While Gram, 64, says he’ll probably retire earlier than he had wanted to, Willette, 50, tells Kenosha News he’ll be dusting off his resume to “find out what it’s like to look for a job in this economy.”

The duo is also hoping to perhaps keep the photography service side of their business going, but the century-old Rode’s (as the community knew it) is likely gone for good.


Image credits: Header photo by Google Street View

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