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2021 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest Winners

Posted by Erika Haugen-Goodman at Jan 03, 2022 05:30 AM |
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From bears to mountain peaks, take a look at all of the 2021 photo contest winners.

WTA's Northwest Exposure Photo Contest is a special thing. Year after year it shows just how incredible Washington's hiking community is across the state. Thousands of photos are entered depicting mountain peaks, rivers, insects, urban trails and everything in between. Each unique hiking experience and photo offers a different way to look at trails. Some choose to focus on the big picture, others small, and no two photos are quite the same. 2021 was certainly no different, with stunning entries that made picking 16 winners a tough task. 

But your photos do more than just offer a chance to win some neat prizes. They tell the story of Washington's trails and help WTA put together resources and information for hikers across the state. Even if your photo isn't selected as a winner, they brighten our Hiking Guide entries, make our blogs more enjoyable, and give our resources a fresh look that helps us deliver the highest quality hiking information. Needless to say, WTA would look a lot different without you (plus, we always credit photos we use!).

With that said, thank you for entering the 2021 contest, and we look forward to seeing your entries in the 2022 contest in August. Now, let's take a look at the winners from this past year!

Grand Prize - Michael Margoshes

Hiker holding cup on mountain with comet at night

This year's grand prize was all about the timing. Michael was able to capture a unique moment that caught our attention with his Instagram entry depicting Comet NEOWISE landing into a cup of hot cocoa. Talk about a fortuitous turn of events!

“Ever since I was a teenager I’ve always loved shooting long exposure photography. I really enjoy the challenges of fine-tuning my settings and focusing in dark and especially the thrills that accompany night shooting! Running around under the night sky is just so exciting to me.”

1st Place, Trailscapes - Rachel Bartle

Mountain with snow through stone archway at Mount Rainier

First prize in Trailscapes went to an interesting take on a Washington staple. Rachel's photo, shot on an iPhone in October, took a unique angle in capturing a popular destination for hiking year-round. The fresh coat of snow and evening light helped elevate her photo to first prize along with the interesting choice of framing.

“Trails are important to me because they take me to places I wouldn’t be able to easily access without them. I’m blessed to live in Washington, with so many trails to access and views to see. I’ll never get tired of hiking here.”

2nd Place, Trailscapes - Mike Livdahl

Hiking trail in Seattle with forest greenery

Urban trails are an important and steady presence for hikers in Washington, and Mike showed us why that is with his second place winner from Schmitz Preserve Park in Seattle. The lush greenery and winding trail drew the judges in, showcasing why these sorts of trails are an amazing escape so close to home.

“The Unicorn Forest, that’s how a colleague’s children describe Schmitz Park. In Seattle, you don’t have to travel to UNESCO world heritage sites like the Hoh to feel some rainy old growth forest magic.”

3rd Place, Trailscapes - Koji Kuromiya-ParkerMountain view at sunset with Mount Baker glacier

Koji's winning photo from Park Butte is a perfect example of how incredible a mountaintop sunset can be. Stitching together 11 vertical shots, Koji was able to create an amazing panorama of Mount Baker and the surrounding area. The judges particularly liked the vastness of the photo, and the perfectly captured lighting.

“We purposely got a late start as we planned to catch sunset at the lookout. We were a bit distracted with the blueberries on the hike up. After sunset we picked many more blueberries on the hike out as well as stopped for a while to take in the night sky.”

1st Place, Flora and Fauna - Chett Carpenter

Black bear hanging from tree on the Olympic Peninsula

Bears are a fun sight to see on hikes (so long as distance is respected), but Chett's winning photo captured something unique on his hike through the Enchanted Valley. The timing couldn't have been better, and the bear cub was nicely framed by the surroundings, taking this fun shot to first place in the category. Talk about posing for the camera!

“My friends and I saw this bear cub playing in a huge Bigleaf Maple tree near the trail while it's mother grazed nearby. It kept climbing up the tree and then dangling as long as possible from one of the lower branches before reluctantly falling to the ground. It repeated this over and over again. We were delighted to see this behavior, which none of us had seen before. I couldn't miss the opportunity to unpack my camera and capture this image with my telephoto zoom lens.”

2nd Place, Flora and Fauna - Pak To Lee Jeremy

Two otters sit on a log above the Skagit River

Jeremy was hiking along the Skagit River when he came upon these otters basking in the sun. Patience is the name of the game when capturing wildlife, and his persistence paid off, allowing him to take this image of the two on a log above the river without interrupting the action. The judges liked the nicely shot lighting and the shared moment between the two otters.

“Trails give me opportunities to access natural habitats safely and a getaway from my busy city life during the week.”

3rd Place, Flora and Fauna - Cameron Brandt

Heron sitting on log at sunset

Whidbey Island is a refuge for all sorts of wildlife, particularly birds, and Cameron took full advantage of that fact to capture this beautiful sunset shot of a resting heron. The perfectly balanced light, framing and colors caught the eye of the judges, putting Cameron's photo into third place.

“When I shoot pictures I try to capture how I was feeling at the time I took the image and I enjoy this picture because it captures the awe and joy I felt at being in such a special place."

1st Place, Trail Family - Jill Silva

Couple in front of waterfall smiling

Film photography can either be frustrating, or evoke gorgeous moods with its nostalgia. The judges thought the latter of Jill's wonderful capture of her two friends, Alyssa and Isaac, at Comet Falls. The mood of the photo is what drew us in, offering a glimpse of what time spent together in the outdoors is truly like.

"We were camping with a big caravan of friends at the Cougar Rock Campground. I had recently taken up film photography again, had not touched a camera since a black and white photo class in college. Luckily my friends were cool with me making photos all throughout our trip. I used a Kodak 200 roll and really wanted to capture the energy of friends that day.”

2nd Place, Trail Family - David Johnson

Couple standing on hiking trail in front of larch trees and mountains

It's not hard to see why larches are such an enchanting sight in the fall, but the real stars of this second place photo were David, Marlys, and their dog Rica. We loved the backdrop, their joy for hiking, and this cute moment shared together. This particular hike was celebrating Marlys' 75th birthday, and the two have been together for over 50 years. We hope the next birthday is even better, though it might be hard to top that scenery.

“Not only do we greatly enjoy the beauty and challenge of hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest, but it keeps us healthy and young feeling.”

3rd Place, Trail Family - Charles Wang

Two hikers camping next to tent on mountain

Using WTA's Hiking Guide to pick a destination with his two friends Audrey and Coralin, the group settled on Red Top Lookout and Charles was able to capture this fun moment of the two. The judges enjoyed seeing the genuine and fun expressions on the pair's faces, and the moody atmosphere was a nice backdrop for a classic Pacific Northwest backpacking trip.

“The trails have contributed to so much positivity to my life; it keeps me moving and reminds me of the importance of our natural surroundings. Every hiking trip brings more memorable experiences and inspires me to live a more sustainable lifestyle. The trails give me a reason to stay active and helps me escape my daily stressors. The outdoors play a huge part of my life and inspires me to keep seeking the next adventure.”

1st Place, Hikers in Action - Nikki Womac

Boy jumping in front of Mount Rainier

Hikers in Action is always one of the more competitive categories, but this year had a clear winner with Nikki's photo. The judges loved the energy of the moment, the framing, and, of course, the action. It's hard to beat a photo with this much going for it, and Nikki definitely deserved the first place prize!

“Honestly, I am really new to hiking and enjoying trails. I didn’t grow up hiking and I am not from the Northwest originally. My kids inspired me to begin looking at trails and to start exploring this beautiful state. I have seen how much my husband loves the outdoors and the mountains, it brings him incredible peace and happiness I wanted to find out how I could enjoy it as well. I think it is important to find ways to make nature and the outdoors more accessible to all. I love that WTA has a gear library/ rental program, I wish that information was more widely spread. We, as a family, participated in the first BIPOC specific trail work day, which was really exciting. We had the chance to talk as a group and as a family about why more people of color do not often participate in outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, climbing, etc., and how that could be changed.”

2nd Place, Hikers in Action - Aaron Wilson

Girl walking in forest with trees and greenery

Aaron's photo of his daughter, Lindsay, instantly stood out to the contest judges for its unique framing and pop of color. The location was also an interesting aspect of this photo, taken at Mount St. Helens where most images are focused on the mountain itself. The backpack against the greenery and how Aaron's daughter was framed between the trees led our eyes right along the trail, landing Aaron a second place win.

“It's both fun and frustrating hiking with little kids. It's hard to not lose my patience when I'm used to hiking in constant motion for hours on end. Bringing my camera along helps give me something to do when drawing lines in the dirt with a stick takes priority over continuing on the trail. I caught this shot of my oldest while I was waiting for my youngest to finish with the stick.”

3rd Place, hikers in action - Brandie Robbins

Man reading a book with river in background

This was one of the more unique photos the judges came across this year, setting it apart from some of the other entries. Taken on Brandie's birthday, she captured her husband Clint reading at the river's edge after hiking on the Hoh River Trail. Getting a unique view into how hikers enjoy trails and the destinations they lead to is why we love the Northwest Exposure Photo Contest, and this photo gave us just that.

Every year, my husband and I take a backpacking trip to celebrate my birthday. This was my 37th birthday, and we decided to hike 37 miles (it actually ended up being almost 40 though). It was the hardest hike we have ever done, but it was an incredible experience. We try to do something to push ourselves physically and test our limits, and this hike definitely achieved that goal.”

1st Place, Instagram - Elanie Igama

Mountain peaks with clouds in sunlight.

Mountains swirling in mysterious clouds, sunlight playing on their rocky certainly feels like a classic Pacific Northwest scene, and Elanie captured the lighting perfectly at Vesper Peak to take home first place for the Instagram category. The judges liked the perfectly exposed scene and mix of cloud and sun to create this unique view of the area.

"Trails are important to me because whenever I’m out there I feel so alive. I’m so grateful to live in a state where we have all these beautiful, serene places and the trails that lead us there.”

2nd Place, instagram - Emily Nguyen

Selfie of two women on hiking trail with fall colors.

Emily told us that her luck with weather when hiking with her friend is usually pretty bad, but that wasn't the case when they set out for this hike on the Heather-Maple Pass Loop. They met up early in the morning when it was still dark and made the drive to the trailhead, luckily greeted by sunlight once they were underway. The judges loved the mood of this photo, capturing a fun moment between friends with beautiful backlighting and fall color.

“Trails and hiking hold a special place in my heart. I have dealt with a lot of joint and muscle aches and pains having been diagnosed with Lupus 11 years ago. Since starting to hike seriously for the last couple of years, I’ve felt that the trails have given me back a sense of control over my body that I hadn’t felt for a really long time. They’ve made me feel empowered and have given me so much joy and peace whenever I’m out on one.”

3rd Place, instagram - Teresa King

Hiker framed by larches on mountain hike.

Talk about another moment of perfect timing in a contest year full of spectacular moments. The framing of Teresa's friend caught the attention of the judges, coupled with the brilliance of fall color and the way the vividness seems to leap off the image. Teresa's use of branches was a perfect example of using natural framing to highlight a subject, landing this the third place prize in the Instagram category.

“I'm fairly new to hiking, it is my friend in this picture that turned me on to it. She was dealing with the recent loss of a spouse a couple of years ago when she started hiking once a week, she has since retired and now hikes two to three times a week. I have seen in her, the peace and serenity the trails has provided and she's been a great ambassador for the great PNW outdoors. She is responsible and a great teacher. Her love for the great outdoors is infectious and I also I have a few more years to go before I retire, I'm so looking forward to joining her adventures on a more frequent basis.”

We hope you've enjoyed this year's winning photos! Thank you to the contest sponsors for providing prizes for the winners and supporting our work. The 2022 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest will kick off in August. We're looking forward to seeing your entries!


Postiecat on 2021 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest Winners

Stunning photos. Must be very hard which ones to pick, but you definitely did a good job.

Posted by:

Postiecat on Jan 14, 2022 12:01 PM

Posted by:

soul2483 on Jan 22, 2022 08:59 AM

Posted by:

janetg on Jan 23, 2022 07:20 AM

warner blake on 2021 Northwest Exposure Photo Contest Winners

"... popular destination for hiking year-round." And the name is ...?

Posted by:

warner blake on Jan 30, 2022 07:11 AM

Posted by:

PikaWatcher on Aug 25, 2022 01:22 PM