25 Powerful Winning Photos From the 2023 Nature Conservancy Photo Contest

2023 Nature Conservancy Grand Prize Winner

“Between the stars” by Tibor Litauszki (Hungary). Grand Prize.
“I photographed this moment underwater. I was able to do it by putting my camera in an underwater case, attaching it to a metal weight and placing it all under the eggs. I waited nearby for it to be dark, and when the newt appeared, I lit it with an LED lamp. I started the camera with a homemade wired remote release. It turned out 1-2 sharp pictures.” (© Tibor Litauszki/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

The Nature Conservancy has announced the winner of its 2023 photo contest, which features images that help us connect to the power and peril of the natural world. After doubling the number of categories, the contest saw an explosion in the number of entries. In fact, entries nearly doubled over last year, with more than 80,000 photographers from 191 countries submitting over 189,000 photographs for consideration.

In the end, Tibor Litauszki from Hungary won the Grand Prize for his underwater photo of a newt eating freshly laid frog eggs. Litauszki was able to capture the underwater moment by attaching a metal weight to his camera and placing it underneath all of the eggs. It was a clever move that paid off when the newt came to feed.

Twelve category winners and a special celebrity judge award were also named. From Agnieszka Wieczorek‘s stunning aerial photo of a Polish village surrounded by yellow rapeseed fields to Benjamin Salb‘s close-up look at a wolf spider and her children, the photos show the true gamut of what makes our world extraordinary.

“Our annual photo contest is an inspiration. Photographers from all walks of life helped give voice to nature by showing us what mattered to them,” shared Alex Snyder, 2023 global photo contest director and judging coordinator. “The judges and I were taken on a visual journey as we reviewed thousands of images from amateurs and professionals alike. These impactful images underscored not only the power of photography but the importance of The Nature Conservancy’s global efforts in conservation.”

Check out 25 of the winning images below, which only lend support to the work that The Nature Conservancy carries out. Since 1951, this non-profit has worked with its members, over 400 scientists, and staff to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends, either through direct action or partner organizations.

Here are the incredible winners of The Nature Conservancy's 2023 photo contest.

Aerial photo of Swidnica Poland surrounded by yellow rapeseed fields

“Living inside the yellow fields” by Agnieszka Wieczorek (Poland). First place, Aerials.
“Inspired by yellow color I decided to take a photo with a drone showing an aerial perspective of a small settlement of the city of Swidnica, Poland, which was
built in the middle of a field. In the spring months the buildings are surrounded by beautiful rapeseed fields.” (© Agnieszka Wieczorek /TNC Photo Contest 2023)

The Nature Conservancy 2023

“Busy builder” by Grzegorz Długosz (Poland). First place, Birds.
“A penduline tit builds its unique nest in the marshes of Biebrza National Park, Poland. The male is shown leaving the nest to bring more material to finish up the build.” (© Grzegorz Długosz/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

The Nature Conservancy 2023 Awards

“Stranded” by Raphael Alves (Brazil). First place, Climate.
“Euridice Castro, 33, holds her nephew Otavio, in the window, while her son Aquiles plays in the rising rivers, in Anama, Brazil on May 24, 2021. Anama has been an “amphibian city” for years. Without work, adults stay at home most of the time; children, without classes and without public leisure spaces, are left playing in the flooded areas.​” (© Raphael Alves/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Dried up fish pond

“Dry Fish Pond” by Jeanny Tang (Hong Kong). First place, Freshwater.
“The holes dug by fish for spawning can be seen after the pond has dried up.​ Tai Sang Wai, Yuen Long, Hong Kong. (© Jeanny Tang/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Close up look at a wolf spider with her babies

“Wolf Spider Mama” by Benjamin Salb (United States). First place, Insects & Arachnids.
“This image is a 129 frame focus bracket of a wolf spider with her babies. I encountered her in the middle of an asphalt path during an early morning macro outing this summer. You can usually expect some movement from the kids, which could ruin a stack attempt, but they were all completely still for this set.” (© Benjamin Salb/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Snow falling in a forest in front of autumnal leaves

“Sound and Vision” by Alessandro Carboni (Italy). First place, Lands.
“This picture represents one the most intense moments I could remember during my life. It was September, when after a two-week wait I was lucky enough to experience an amazing mix of extraordinary elements, which I will never forget: the impressive display of the autumn colours at their peak and the first snow of the season.” (​© Alessandro Carboni/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Three wolves leaping in the air

“Wolf Trinity” by Siddhartha Ghosh (India). First place, Mammals.
“Here you can see three wolves leaping through the air showcasing their enthusiasm and companionship. It's like a moment in time that captures their nature in the wild. Each wolf exudes happiness and energy with their eyes shining bright from the excitement and their strong bond as a pack. This image serves as a reminder of the elegance and charm of these animals, in their natural environment.” (© Siddhartha Ghosh/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Dolphins jumping out of the water

“The Rangiroa gang” by Estebane Rezkallah (France). First place, Oceans.
“These dolphins jumped and played in front of our boat as we crossed Rangiroa, the largest of the Tuamotu Atolls and the second largest in the world. The dolphins play in the waves with each ship that passes by.” (© Estebane Rezkallah/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

A small troupe of wild blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) watches from a safe distance as a hot air balloon lands on the Maasai Mara

“Wildebeest Breakfast Balloon Safari” by Michael Hegyi (United States). First place, People & Nature.
“A small troop of wild blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) watches from a safe distance as a hot air balloon lands on the Maasai Mara, spills out its breakfast safari tourists and deflates. Maasai Mara National Park, Kenya. July 2018.” (© Michael Hegyi/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

El Cardón in Argentina at night

“SER*ES –  Lunático” by Jose Pereyra Lucena​ (Argentina). First place, Plants & Fungi.
“El Cardón, venerated by the native peoples of northwestern Argentina, surrounded by myths and legends. It is impossible not to be absorbed by its strange beauty. A direct shot on a winter moonlit night.​ Province of Salta, Argentina, 2021. (© Jose Pereyra Lucena/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Over 189,000 photographs from nearly 80,000 photographers were entered into this year's competition.

Corn Snakelet skin under UV light

“Alien Portrait” by Irina Petrova Adamatzky (United Kingdom). First place, Reptiles & Amphibians.
“In this photograph, the intricate skin of a Corn Snakelet (Pantherophis guttatus) is showcased in a unique way, using ultraviolet light. Scientifically proven, snakeskin exhibits a glowing effect under ultraviolet light, a phenomenon that herpetologists have utilized since the late 20th century to locate snakes in the dark.”

Pacific sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) swarm in the murky waters off Monterey, California.

“Phantoms Adrift” by Russell Laman (United States). First place, Underwater Life.
“Pacific sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) swarm in the murky waters off Monterey, California. August 2021.” (© Russell Laman/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Lesser prairie chicken in a field with wings over its face

“Peek-a-Boo” by Mike Krehbiel (United States). Second place, Birds.
“This lesser prairie chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) image was taken in western Kansas. I was in a blind overlooking a lek on April 1, 2023. It was a cold morning and by the time the activity died down enough to exit the blind I was shivering. I wasn't sure if it was due to the cold or the excitement of getting an opportunity to witness the non-stop activity of the prairie chicken.​ (© Mike Krehbiel/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Aerial view of farmland in Turkey

“Farmland” by Mustafa Binol (Turkey). Second place, Climate.
“Although this is actually an irrigable land, it became dehydrated due to the decrease in the water level as a result of excessive water use. The vehicle, which has deep well drilling equipment, is about to start work to dig a new and deeper well on the land below, which has become ineffective. We must have water for a healthy future with conscious agriculture.​” (© Mustafa Binol/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

A bull elk stopping in the Oconaluftee River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a refreshing drink.

“A cool drink” by Alan Taylor​ (United States). Second place, Freshwater.
“A bull elk stopping in the Oconaluftee River in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to a refreshing drink.” (© Alan Taylor/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Yellow leafhopper sitting on a spore dispersing bracket fungus

“Galaxies at My Feet” by Soumya Ranjan Bhattacharyya​ (India).
“A yellow leafhopper came and sat on a spore dispersing bracket fungus. It stayed there until the fungul spore dispersal gained pace. I captured this moment inside the moist deciduous forest of Goa in India.” (​© Soumya Ranjan Bhattacharyya/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Cotopaxi Volcano from the Antisana Glaciers

“Cotopaxi Volcano from the Antisana Glaciers” by Roberto Valdez​, Ecuador. Second place, Lands.
“After several hours of ascending and navigating the vast crevasses of the Antisana volcano's glacier, as the first rays of sunlight began to shine, I spotted the illuminated Cotopaxi in the distance with a massive column of steam rising from it. I carefully positioned myself between crevasses, pulled out my camera, and took the shot with a slow shutter speed, trying my best.” (© Roberto Valdez/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

An orca attacks two seals in the morning on the beach

“Morning attack” by HJ Yang (United States). Second place, Mammals.
“An orca attacks two seals in the morning on the beach.” (© HJ Yang/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Grey heron in a pond in a park in Budapest

“Walking over wildlife” by Mano Aliczki (Hungary). Second place, People & Nature.
“A grey heron (Ardea cinerea) perches in a pond in an urban park in Budapest, Hungary as people walk by; the bird went unnoticed by most of the passers-by, just as we often do not generally notice the creatures living around us in the city. However, we do not need to leave the city to meet wildlife. If we slow down, we can see how many living creatures we share our habitat with.” (© Mano Aliczki/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Paper Nautilus floating on debris

“Snowy Night” by Cai Jialing (China). Second place, Underwater Life.
“Following the Taal Volcano eruption in the Philippines in early 2020, ocean sediments were stirred up into the water column. During a blackwater dive in Batangas Bay, I encountered a female paper nautilus hitchhiking on floating debris. The particles around it reflected my flashlight, resembling falling snowflakes. Rather than depicting post-disaster chaos, the scene created a serene fairytale.” (© Cai Jialing/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Ghost mushrooms

“Ghost Mushrooms” by Ashley Sykes (Australia). Third place, Plants & Fungi.
“This is a group of ghost mushrooms, Omphalotus nidiformis. They grow and then disappear quickly on warm nights after a few rainy days, particularly on rotting and decaying tree stumps in coastal forests. This clump I photographed was in a coastal woodland area in Gerroa, New South Wales, Australia. March 21, 2022.” (​© Ashley Sykes/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

A scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) climbing down a pine tree

“Scarlet kingsnake” by Joseph Mullica (United States). Third place, Reptiles & Amphibians.
“A scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis elapsoides) climbing down a pine tree presumably hunting lizards at dusk.” (© Joseph Mullica/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Aerial view of crowded ferries in Dhaka

“Home bound” by Mostafijur Rahman Nasim (Bangladesh). Honorable mention, Aerials.
“Bangladesh is a densely populated country. The scenario of public transport changes during Eid festival as people leave Dhaka in over crowded transports. In the photo, huge crowded launches (water vessels) are seen in Sadarghat launch terminal in Dhaka. People took position on the roof of the river trucks.” (© Mostafijur Rahman Nasim/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

Hoopoe taking flight

“Dawn's Whispers: Graceful Hoopoe Silhouette at Sunrise” by Hermis Haridas (United Arab Emirates). Celebrity Judge Choice.
“A Hoopoe took flight with its wings spread in a smooth motion across the canvas of the early-morning sky that was illuminated by the sunrise's bright hues. I saw that this bird would occasionally grab its prey in the air and other times on the ground. Additionally, I observed that each time it caught its prey, it flew in the same direction to a nearby tree.” (​© Hermis Haridas/TNC Photo Contest 2023)

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My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by The Nature Conservancy.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor 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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