Almost 900 photographers entered Audubon’s fifth annual photo awards, which we present in association with Nature’s Best Photography. We chose four winners, but in truth, everyone who entered was a winner, because of both their great photographs and their passion for birds.
[gallery:198091|align:left|caption:GALLERY See this year's winners] Every year I admire the Audubon Photo Awards finalists. But this was my first stint as one of the judges, and it gave me a different perspective. After days spent poring over thousands of entries in the early rounds, I was in awe of the quality of the bird photography being done by the entrants. The winners displayed here, and the gallery of the Top 100 compiled for the website, represent only the tip of a very impressive iceberg.
Taking a really fine bird photo is an art, requiring major skill and knowledge. In the past it often required a lot of money. The best cameras and telephoto lenses are still expensive, but today even some simple point-and-shoot cameras have good superzoom lenses, and surprisingly good pictures are being taken with cell phones. The high cost of film and processing is only a memory. Bird photography still offers tremendous challenges, but expense is no longer the barrier it once was, and practically anyone can try it.
That’s a very good thing, because photography serves more and more as a window for discovery. Whether through published images or through our own cameras, photography forces us to notice that birds are priceless in their beauty and diversity, and worth saving for future generations.