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Nature's Best Photography

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.
on Sunday, 29th December ,2013

If I were writing for the Washington Post Weekend Section, I would give a green "GO" arrow to the Nature's Best Photo Award exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. Since we love the water and have done some scuba diving over the years, the two exhibits about the underwater world - one more informational, and the other photographic - are what drew us to that museum today. I learned about the 'landlocked' Arctic Ocean as well as more about the Southern Ocean around Antartica.  Sadly, some of what I read about was the damage humans have wrought, making some of our previously beautiful coral reefs bland. Locally, the marked decrease in the Chesapeake Bay shellfish population was highlighted, and has resulted in laws that perhaps will help reverse the trend. Of course, the Bay is a huge ecosystem, within which each population affects the functioning of the others. This won't be an easy fix.

For today's visit, though, the real gem (not the Hope Diamond, since we've seen that on other visits), was the exhibit of photos submitted by the winners of the 2012 Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition. Rice was a very accomplished nature photographer and conservationist who was previously very involved with this competition. She unfortunately died at a very young age and the annual competition is now dedicated to her memory. The tremendous value both for the photographers and for those of us fortunate enough to see their work, is to encourage people to , "…explore, understand, and conserve the natural world for the generations that will follow us." You can't help but be in awe of the scenes that were preserved for our viewing pleasure.

Each year over 20,000 photos are contributed by professional and amateur photographers and the judges have the very difficult task of narrowing down the field to under 50. Every photo in the exhibit made us stop and smile and enjoy an amazing moment in time, captured flawlessly. The one below of the bull elk with antlers during a surprise May snowstorm was remarkable not only because it seemed you could feel it's fuzzy antlers. It's a highly unusual sight, since elk shed their antlers before spring and usually don't have them during snowstorms. It won the youth award, as it was submitted by a 16 year old.

Here in Washington, we're so fortunate to have these and so many other exhibits available, funded by voluntary contributions and memberships. If you can, you should definitely "GO" to see these photos. If that's not possible, you can see a video of some of the amazing shots at www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/natures-best-2012/. Years ago, my son famously asked me why we would bother to go to galleries -- "Anything you could want to see is on the internet!" Fortunately, he now goes down to the National Mall willingly and today appreciated the lifelike beauty of the large photos. :-) He'd be missing so much otherwise.

Tags: nature, photography, museums

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