See the impressive photography that earned top honors in our annual Forests in Focus photo contest.


LOCATION: Huntington Library Botanical Gardens, Calif.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “Forests come in all sizes. This impossibly tiny sprout was growing inside the trunk of a small and ancient bonsai tree at the Huntington Gardens of California, bathed in a sharp ray of sunlight. It has secret ambitions of growing up to be hundreds of feet tall.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Joaquin Baldwin is a CG layout supervisor, photographer and animator, known for his award-winning independent animated shorts and his work at the Walt Disney Animation Studios, where he has been on staff since 2010. His films have earned him more than 100 awards in festivals such as Cannes, Student Academy Awards, Cinequest, USA Film Festival and Cinanima. When not at the studio, he enjoys taking photo road trips, focusing mostly on landscapes and wildlife. Joaquin has a bachelor’s degree in animation from CCAD, and a master’s in animation from UCLA. He has been a layout artist and layout supervisor in films such as “Zootopia,” “Moana,” “Big Hero 6,” “Frozen,” “Feast” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” You can see Joaquin’s work, including his photography portfolio, 3D printed design work and animated shorts, at

WHY WE LOVED IT: “We as the judging panel took to this image instantly with ooh’s and aah’s and deep calming breaths (exactly what we love about being in the woods). We named it the grand prize winner because, beyond the excellent camera work, it captures the feeling of hope that so resonates with what American Forests stands for. May all who see this image remember that the power of every great forest began with no more than a small seed and some sunshine. Thank you to all who participated! See you in the forest!” — Lynsey Dyer, Professional Big Mountain Skier and Eddie Bauer Guide


LOCATION: Mt. Hood Wilderness, Mt. Hood National Forest, Ore.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “In August 2011, lightning started the Dollar Fire on the north slopes of Mt. Hood, in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Wilderness. More than 6,000 acres burned before rains stopped the fire in late September. This photo was taken in late spring of 2014, almost three years later. Avalanche Lily is the first flower to emerge here each spring in the burned over area.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Paul Glasser is a largely self-taught artist and photographer residing in Sherwood, Ore. A lifelong lover of the outdoors, he has spent a lifetime hiking and climbing across the American west. A fan of both alpine and desert environments, he is constantly searching for a “painting already there, waiting to be seen.”

WHY WE LOVED IT: “This picture is EVERYTHING! I love how it captures the rebirth of a tree and does it so compellingly. The exposure highlight on the green new growth literally shines a light on the circle-of-life of a forest. Simply an exceptional image.” — Chuck Fazio, American Forests’ Artist-in-Residence


LOCATION: Richmond, Va.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “Bare trees can be beautiful, so sculptural. I was taken by the beauty of this tree and enjoyed doing some special editing on it.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Anita Storino came to photography through her love of nature. After retiring, she had time to observe flora and fauna in her yard and began taking pictures with her point & shoot to share with friends on social media. Her interest in improving her knowledge and skills led her to join a local photo club and invest in a better camera and editing software. Today, she is a member of three clubs and frequently exhibits at local galleries in juried shows. Anita has her first solo show, entitled “Wish Granted,” scheduled for the fall of 2018 at Art Works in Richmond, Va. Part of her vision is to unearth what the subject “wants to be,” using editing software to grant the subject’s wish. “Shades of Winter” is representative of that effort and will be part of the show. You can see more of her work at Instagram: @anita_storino.

WHY WE LOVED IT: “The depth and coloring of this photo make it hard to look away. It has a mysterious aura that leaves us wondering about this tree’s history and location. Winter photos can be hard to capture without creating a white blanket, but this photographer surpassed the challenges to create a beautiful image. — Emily Barber, Marketing Manager, American Forests


LOCATION: Tucquala Lake, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wash.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “Taken on Nikon D90 at Tucquala Lake in Washington State. In the foreground, my younger brother is standing and composing an image on his cell phone, and in the background a young deer walks through the stream near my campsite.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Richard Glidden, also known as Richie, is a young, amateur photographer from Bellevue, Wash. As a high school student, he is still gaining wisdom and knowledge of the digital arts. Growing up where a 15-minute drive east or west will land him in a forest or city has allowed his interest and passion of photography to grow. He hopes that in the years to come he will be an active member of the photography community.

WHY WE LOVED IT: “The photograph of the young man and the young deer in the water provided a wonderful balance of nature and technology. It was a very nice moment with fine composition to include lots of detail to make the photograph work so well. It demonstrates good timing with nice exposure and composition, making you look at it over and over. The judges were instantly impressed with the photograph.” — Jonathan Newton, Staff Photographer, Washington Post

WINNER: FOREST CLOSE-UPS “Sunshine Makes My Soul Shine”

PHOTOGRAPHER: Naomi Fortino (IL)

LOCATION: Swallow Cliff Woods, Palos Park, Ill.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “In June 2017, driving for my morning run on a hazel sunrise to see the sun break through creating the rays of light through the trees. What a sight!”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Naomi Fortino is an amateur photographer from the Chicago suburbs. Being surrounded by forests while growing up, she has always had a passion for nature and wildlife. Her fondness of the forest and trees has always been close to her heart, and being able to capture and share her love through her photos has become her life’s path — “No matter where you are, there is nature and beauty!” For more of her work, check out her Facebook page at

WHY WE LOVED IT: “This photo feels almost magical, as is suggested by the title. The sun shining through the trees has a calming effect. The photographer knew there was a special moment here and captured it in exactly the right way.” — Emily Barber, Marketing Manager, American Forests


PHOTOGRAPHER: Gary Wittstock (FL)

LOCATION: Titusville, Fla.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “A red-shouldered hawk feeds a frog to its chick. In one day, I got shots of this frog meal, and also a skink, an anole and a green snake. With the Canon 7Dii/100-400ii camera’s 1.6X sensor crop, my effective focal length for this shot was 640mm, so I was able to setup far enough away to not disturb their nest.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: In 2014, Gary moved from Chicago to Florida, where he enjoys scuba diving and photographing many bird species that live nearby or migrate there on Florida’s Space Coast. While he isn’t a professional photographer, Gary uses craft addictively to share nature like his father before him. He loves shooting the water features he builds as part of his business, and frogs, dragonflies, lilies and waterfalls are his everyday subjects. He patented the Ecosystem Pond concept in 1996, for creating natural habitats where nature populates the pond and keeps it clean. For more of his photography, check out his Flickr page at

WHY WE LOVED IT: “John Jay Audubon would have envied this shot. The photographer allows us a view of exceptional intimacy into a universal moment, a mother feeding her baby — in this case a red-shouldered hawk with a specially caught frog. The lighting and focus are superb — artistic and exquisite.” — Lea Sloan, Vice President of Communications, American Forests


LOCATION: Crater Lake National Park, Ore.

PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE: “The Phantom Ship is the name of this small island in Crater Lake National Park. To reach it, one must take a boat, which only operate a few months of the year. Usually, it is not so foggy in the park, and because the caldera edge right behind the island is the same value, I was lucky that the fog conditions created a sharp definition of the island’s unusual shape and that the wind conditions were perfectly still enough to get an almost mirror-like reflection.”

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Adam is a high school senior from Kirkland, Wash. He loves photography, painting in oils and is especially inspired by the past and how images can be used to document and teach history. He takes photos using cameras as old and simple as a 1928 Kodak Brownie and as modern as a Nikon D500, using them all to capture the magnificence of nature, wildlife and architecture alike.

WHY WE LOVED IT: “I like this photo very much. The photographer, though young, knows how to crop his picture in the camera view finder. The island with its numerous pinnacles forms an interesting shape and is captured with calm water as a mirror that reflects it. The photographer spotted a fascinating geological form and photographed it at the right moment.” — Lou Mazzatenta, Former National Geographic Photographer and Photo Editor