There were over hundreds of unique entries in this year’s Forests in Focus Photo Contest, and each was breathtaking in its own way. We love seeing your perspective of forests, wildlife and the different ways we enjoy each. Our judges were especially impressed with this year’s entries, making it that much harder to select the winners. After much deliberation, the reigning photos have been crowned – check them out below!

Grand Prize

“Desert Canvas” by Everett Bloom

Photographer’s Note: This is about 4 hours of photos of star trails during a full moon. The tree is illuminated from behind from a car’s headlights and I definitely like this more than the usual front illumination.  I try not to light paint anymore since it’s annoying to people who are enjoying the parks after dark and is not necessary if you have some moonlight combined with a long exposure.  The reason this is in the creative category is I used the healing brush in Photoshop to eliminate a rogue tree on the right hand side that distracted from the main Joshua Tree.

Big, Beautiful Trees

“The Watchman” by Arthur O’Leary

Location: Killarney National Park, Ireland

Photographer’s Note: This was taken at Muckross Abby in County Kerry Ireland, an old Irish monastery.  These Yew trees are a long-lived species once believed by the monks to symbolize eternity.

Forest Landscapes

“Cape Flattery” by Nick Hanyok

Location: Cape Flattery, Washington

Photographer’s Note: I took this on Thanksgiving Day. I  was taking a road trip from Portland, Oregon to the San Juan Islands in Washington, stopping at a dozen beautiful spots along the way. Cape Flattery instantly had me though. What’s so amazing to me is how the clusters of trees are perfectly placed on top of the rock stacks, constantly battered by the waves and wind. Completely natural and raw and yet peaceful and majestic. The entire hike to this point was cloudy and rainy. Once we reached the end though, the sunlight pierced through the fog and clouds, the rain stopped, and for me, the view at that moment stopped time.


“Suspended” by Morgan Lytle

Location: South Carolina

Photographer’s Note: While out hiking at a local park one day, I came across this suspended leaf.

Forests & People

“Scale” by Stacy Smith Evans

Location: Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park

Photographer’s Note: I took this photo two years ago during a weekend trip to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. It was a sunrise-less morning at the mountain overlooks so my husband and I drove to Big Meadows to look for deer. We arrived just as a heavy fog rolled in behind this huge oak tree with outstretched branches running nearly parallel to the ground. I knew I wanted to illustrate the tree’s size so I asked my husband, who is six feet tall, to stand under it. I like to say I added a husband for scale.”

Aspiring Photographers

“Young Tree Growing in Fence Post, Kaua’i” by Isis Clark Hunter

Location: Upper Kapahi, Kaua’i, Hawai’i

Photographer’s Father’s Note: Isis and Dad (Paul) were specifically out looking for photo subjects for this contest! This is the first contest Isis submitted a photo to. Isis spotted this cute little lichen covered tree growing right out of the old fence post on a country road. Isis stood on the tailgate of the pickup truck to get the photo framed perfectly.

Forest Close-Ups

“Sapling” by Peggy Yaeger

Photographer’s Note: I love taking photos of things that show detail and that people might overlook.  (My husband did not think much of this picture stop but it was magical to me.)  We were on our way to hike to Dog Slaughter Falls in Daniel Boone Forest in Southeast Kentucky, when I spotted this sapling sidelit by the early morning light, glowing with the promise of new life.

Forest Wildlife

“Cubby Hole” by Dave Shaffer

Photographer’s Note: One morning this past spring while exploring the area where I’d seen this bear before, I heard the telltale sound of tiny claws on thick bark. I quietly approached and saw the mom sleeping beneath a pine and her two little cubs noisily playing in the branches above. I sat down a safe and respectful distance away. After a while mom woke and gave a couple soft grunts. In a flash the two little cubs woke and raced down the tree to be with mom. She sat up and her two precious cubs latched on. I felt so blessed to be given the opportunity to bear witness to these magical moments.

People’s Choice

“Fox and a Fish” by Laurel Coffman

Honorable Mentions

“Long Stare” by Dave Nichols

“Grandfather Tree” by Barbara Guin

“Barkscape Number 1 Hoh Rainforest” by Lance Oditt