Awe-Inspiring Winners of the 2021 Natural Landscape Photography Awards

Yellow Leaves in an Oak Forest

Photo: Eric Bennett, Photographer of the Year, Winner.

These days, even if we're looking at a photo of a beautiful landscape, we often assume that there must be quite a bit of Photoshop involved in the final product. But a new photography contest is proving that many photographers don't need a lot of post-production help to generate spectacular images. The Natural Landscape Photography Awards was created to highlight landscape photography by artists who “value realism and authenticity in their work.”

Any photograph entered into the contest was subject to strict rules. No compositing, removing or distorting elements, or combining images were allowed. In fact, all photographers who made it past the first round were required to submit the RAW version of their photos to ensure that they weren't breaking the rules. This means that, when you look at the winning photos, you are seeing what photographers can do right in camera.

Eric Bennett and Steve Altermann, who won Photographer of the Year and Photograph of the Year, respectively, are wonderful examples of photographers who captured landscapes in an authentic way. Altermann's creative photo of an iceberg settled onto a black sand beach in Iceland is visually captivating. The image, which earned him Photograph of the Year, proves that being able to observe the right moments can pay off.

For Bennett, whose portfolio of landscapes won him Photographer of the Year, the win was a nice reward for the type of subtle images that he likes to take. “As a photographer who strives to show people the value of wilderness, I have always enjoyed seeing and creating more subtle and personal photographs that portray nature in a realistic manner. As these kinds of images tend to have a quieter impact, they often end up being largely ignored in most photography competitions,” he shared. “To be given this award by such a prestigious and well-respected group of photographers whom I have always looked up to is a great honor for me. I hope that the Natural Landscape Photography Awards can continue for many years to come, remain true to its values, and inspire other photography competitions to award photographers based on similar principles of artistry.”

With over 13,000 photographs entered by more than 1,300 photographers, it seems like many are interested in being judged for their in-camera work rather than their post-production prowess. Scroll down to see more winning photographs and enjoy what will certainly be a new highlight of the photography contest world.

The Natural Landscape Photography Awards highlights images that have minimal post-production.

Fellsfjara Black Sand Beach in Iceland

Photo: Steve Alterman, Photograph of the Year, Winner

Bolder Nestled Into a Rockface

Photo: Ben Horne, Photographer of the Year, Runner Up

El Capitan in Yosemite Covered in Mist

Photo: Michael Frye, Grand Landscape, Winner

As such, these images are very much “what you see is what you get,” without compositing or excessive retouching.

Lightning Strike at the Matterhorn

Photo: Paul Hammett, Nightscape, Winner

Enormous Icicles

Photo: Eric Bennett, Photographer of the Year, Winner.

Sunset Over Drakensberg Mountains

Photo: Carl Smorenburg, Project, Runner Up

Sunlight Over Drakensberg Mountains

Photo: Carl Smorenburg, Project, Runner Up

Over 13,000 photos were submitted to the first year of the contest.

Forest Regrowing After Fires in Tasmania

Photo: Matt Palmer, Project, Winner

Kangaroo in Burnt Forest in Tasmania

Photo: Matt Palmer, Project, Winner

Aerial Photo of the Australian Desert

Photo: Paul Hoelen, Aerial, Winner

Moon Behind Joshua Tree

Photo: Jai Shet, Youth, Winner

Snowy Trees in a Landscape

Photo: Ben Horne, Photographer of the Year, Runner Up

Colors of Forest in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains

Photo: Franka Gabler, Intimate & Abstract, Winner

Natural Landscape Photography Awards

Photo: Lance Wilson, Youth, Runner Up

Natural Landscape Photography Awards: Website | Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by the Natural Landscape Photography Awards.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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