Student Nature Photo Contest Now Accepting Entries

Wyatt Mendez's photo of a praying mantis took second place in the 2016 Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest.

Arizona teenagers can win cash prizes, gift certificates and more in an annual photo contest co-sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, Cox Communications and Arizona Highways.

The 2017 Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest is open to Arizona student photographers ages 13 to 18. Entries are being accepted now, and you have until April 10 to submit your photos of Arizona's plants, animals and landscapes. Students entered more than 1,000 photos in last year's contest; the first-place photo, by Randy Davidson, was published in the September 2017 issue of Arizona Highways.

In addition to being published in the magazine and on our website, the first-place winner this year receives $5,000. The other nine finalists will receive cash prizes as well, and finalists also will get gift certificates for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and Arizona camera shops, along with passes to Nature Conservancy preserves.

"We hope this contest helps connect young people, and the people they touch, to the outdoors through photography,” says Pat Graham, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Arizona.

To upload your photo or learn more about the contest, visit the contest page on our website.

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Now Featured in the Arizona Highways Gift Shop: Joel Hazelton

You can now view and buy prints of Joel Hazelton's work at the Arizona Highways gift shop in Phoenix. | Keith Whitney

We told you in October that we're now featuring work by Arizona Highways photographers at our gift shop (2039 W. Lewis Avenue, Phoenix). Starting this month, we welcome someone who's relatively new to the magazine but is already making a big impression.

Joel Hazelton says Arizona Highways had an impact on him long before he became a contributor. "My parents had a subscription ... and I would stare at the magazine for hours," he says. "This was during the early 2000s, when guys like Jeff Snyder and Nick Berezenko were out shooting these crazy canyons, and that was the style that really spoke to me and largely influenced the work I do now."

Hazelton first contributed to the magazine in 2014. You can read more about him and see his work in an upcoming issue of Arizona Highways.

Or, if you're looking for a unique and spectacular holiday gift, come on down to the gift shop and buy a print of a Hazelton photo. A portion of the cost benefits the magazine's mission of promoting tourism to and through the state of Arizona.

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Arizona Photographer's Work Appears in New Stamp Collection

Tom Bean's photograph from Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska will soon be immortalized on a stamp. | Courtesy of U.S. Postal Service

Flagstaff photographer Tom Bean, a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways, is getting national attention for a very un-Arizona image.

Bean's photo of Reid Inlet at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska will be featured in a forthcoming collection of U.S. Postal Service stamps celebrating this year's centennial of the National Park Service.

As the Arizona Daily Sun reported earlier this month, Bean made the photo around sunset in July 1987 during a three-week assignment from the National Geographic Society. A few months ago, he was contacted about allowing the photo to be considered for the stamp collection. His image is one of the lucky ones: Only about 20 new stamp designs are produced every year out of more than 40,000 suggestions.

Bean moved to Flagstaff in 1982 and became a professional photographer. His most recent assignment for Arizona Highways was a multi-year look at thinning projects in Arizona's ponderosa pine forests. His photographs accompanied Cutting It Down to Size, Terry Greene Sterling's story in our April 2015 issue.

You can read more about Bean's background and the stamp collection at the Daily Sun's website.

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Arizona Photographer Works to Capture Frank Lloyd Wright's Work

Taliesin West, Scottsdale | Courtesy of Andrew Pielage

Our February issue, on newsstands now, features the David and Gladys Wright House, a Phoenix residence Frank Lloyd Wright designed for his son and daughter-in-law. As it turns out, an Arizona photographer is on a mission to photograph as many of Wright's designs as he can.

As KJZZ reported last month, Andrew Pielage got his start on Wright's designs when he photographed Taliesin West about five years ago. Since then, he's visited five states and shot 15 properties. But he says his favorite is the David and Gladys Wright House, which once was scheduled for demolition.

At the time, he worked at a hotel where he ran into the owner of the house and asked him if he could come document it before it was demolished. The owner let him come by the next day, Pielage said.

“Just the access alone to that place, as a photographer, was immeasurable,” Pielage said. “It’s such an awe-inspiring place, and to be there by myself alone with the architecture in the beautiful Sonoran Desert at sunset, you know, it’s unbelievable, it’s a dream come true.”

Pielage said he uses a tilt-shift lens and shoots two images of each room — one pointed toward the floor and one toward the ceiling. He then combines the images in Photoshop to capture the full design of the room.

To see more of Pielage's work, visit his website. He now teaches photography classes at Taliesin West.

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The Apache Trail, as Seen by a Drone

Reinier Zorge | Apache Trail

The Apache Trail, a route through the Superstition Mountains northeast of Phoenix, is one of Arizona's most picturesque drives. Now, modern technology has given us a new view of the iconic route.

From the website Only in Your State comes this video, which drone operator and videographer Ryan Gordon shot along the Apache Trail (State Route 88). According to the video description, Gordon shot the video using a DJI Phantom Pro 3 drone. As you'll see, it's pretty stunning stuff.

Gordon has produced several drone videos from around Arizona, so if you enjoy this, check out his other work!

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No Surprise Here: Instagrammers Love the Grand Canyon

Ken Converse | Grand Canyon

Here's some more Grand Canyon news for you: The Seventh Natural Wonder was the second-most-popular park on Instagram in 2015, according to Instagram and Outside magazine.

Grand Canyon National Park trailed only Yosemite National Park in California. Rounding out the top five were Zion National Park (Utah), Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado) and Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho) among Instagrammers.

It's hardly surprising, given that the Canyon offers infinite photo opportunities. Among those we've covered in Arizona Highways: the Grandview Loop scenic drive, the North Kaibab Trail and Grand Canyon Lodge.

Other parks in the region that made the list include California's Joshua Tree (No. 6) and Utah's Arches (No. 7) and Bryce Canyon (No. 9). There's also Alaska's Denali (No. 17), which our former intern, Kayla Frost, knows a thing or two about.

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Photography Project for At-Risk Kids Returns for 2016

Participants in a previous Kids in Focus project check out photos with professional photographer Patrick Breen. | Jill Richards

A nonprofit organization's project that introduces at-risk kids in the Phoenix area to photography is back for its 2016 iteration.

Kids in Focus is the brainchild of Karen Shell, a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways. During an intensive nine-week session, 26 students from Children First Academy in Phoenix take weekly field trips to photo shoots and receive mentorship from 12 professional photographers. The project aims to teach photography and problem-solving skills that the students can use in other environments.

The program is underway now, and it culminates with a public exhibition of the students' photos. That exhibition is set to open Friday, March 4 (First Friday), with a reception at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix. The event runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and features food and music.

For more information, visit

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From Pulitzers to Landscapes: An Interview With Jack Dykinga

Courtesy of Jack Dykinga

Friday Fotos, our weekly event on our Facebook page, is off again this week. (We know, we know. We're slackers. It'll be back next week.) In its place, though, we bring you this interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Jack Dykinga, a longtime Arizona Highways contributor.

Fellow contributors John Sherman and Dawn Kish produced the video and the accompanying blog post for the Photography Life website. You can read the blog post here and watch the video below. In it, Dykinga talks about his influences, how he got his start and much more. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!

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National Park Service Seeking ... the Next Ansel Adams?

Ansel Adams with a large-format camera. | Courtesy of National Park Service

Last week, an interesting job listing on USAJOBS, a website that lists job openings in the federal government, made the rounds on social media. The National Park Service, it turns out, is seeking a photographer to be based in Washington, D.C.

What's odd about the position, which pays up to $99,000 a year, is the type of photography: "large format" — in other words, the old-timey 4x5 and 6x7 view cameras that once were the industry standard. The photographer, the listing says, will be in charge of creating "large-format photographic documentation to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the HABS/HAER/HALS permanent collection at the Library of Congress," among other duties.

Large-format photography isn't completely a thing of the past, but hand-held cameras and, later, digital photography have pushed it to the margins. Still, some of history's greatest photographers were masters of large format.

One of them, of course, was Ansel Adams, a longtime Arizona Highways contributor who also completed many assignments from the Park Service. Some of those photos are collected in Ansel Adams: The National Park Service Photographs, which you can find on Amazon.

If you're a large-format buff and are thinking of applying, you'd better hurry: The application window closes tomorrow.

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Winners Announced in Game and Fish Wildlife Photo Contest

The cover of the 2016 Arizona Wildlife Views calendar. | Rhonda Spencer

Rhonda Spencer's photo of two lowland leopard frogs has taken the top prize in an Arizona Game and Fish Department wildlife photography contest co-sponsored by Arizona Highways.

Spencer's shot, along with those of 12 other contest winners, will be featured in a full-size wildlife calendar included in the November/December 2015 issue of Arizona Wildlife Views, a Game and Fish publication. The winning photos will also be featured in Arizona Highways next year.

Arizona Highways Photo Editor Jeff Kida, a judge in the contest, had this to say about Spencer's shot: "At first glance, the composition appears clean and simple: a frog and its refection, with a background that is mostly out of focus. Once you take a closer look, though, the blurred background turns out to be another frog, and it's facing the opposite direction. That yin-yang makes this much more fun and involving."

Besides the first-place winner, the other honorees were:

  • Ken Bruce, Glendale: Anna’s hummingbird
  • Peggy Coleman, Glendale: Round-tailed ground squirrel
  • Dan W. Conway, Dewey: White-crowned sparrow
  • Shane Farmer, Mesa: White-nosed coati
  • Louis G. Hoeniger, Phoenix: yellow-eyed junco
  • Marti Huzarski, Chino Valley: Pronghorn
  • Maria Jeffs, Hildale: Mule deer
  • Ruth Jolly, Scottsdale: Canada geese
  • Kiril Kirkov, Flagstaff: California condor
  • Leslie Elkin Leathers, Tucson: Common mergansers
  • Robert Rinsem, Chandler: White-faced ibis
  • Tam Ryan, Phoenix: Hooded orioles

To receive the calendar, subscribe to Arizona Wildlife Views by December 31. Until then, one-year subscriptions (six issues) are being offered for just $7, a discount from the regular price of $8.50. You can also buy the calendar for $3 at all Game and Fish offices starting in mid-November.

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