The Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation is hosting its annual Nature of Orange Photo Contest this spring.
The department encourages individuals to submit photos depicting the natural beauty within Orange County. Photos must be submitted by 5 p.m. on May 29.
The theme for this year is Farms, Parks and Trails in Orange County. There is a youth division for contestants 18 years old and under. The adult division is for participants ages 19 years old and over.
Contestants who place in the contest will receive a cash reward of $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place.
Kalani Allen, administrative support associate at DEAPR and contest organizer, said any type of photography equipment is allowed.
"We just ask that you don't do any editing, like Photoshop or things of that nature to your photos," she said. "We want them to be natural and in nature."
Each contestant can submit a maximum of five photo entries. DEAPR asks that photos are not staged and are taken in a natural setting. Photos must be submitted in high-resolution .png or .jpeg files.
Nic Beery, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and winner of the 2020 contest's adult division, encouraged new contestants to use their phone cameras as an inexpensive way to be creative.
Allen said the contest is an inclusive environment for people of all backgrounds to show off their creative skills to the Orange County community.
Beery said the contest was a rewarding experience.
"It's great for people to see how much beauty there is out there and how much talent there is with the photographers," he said.
Alexcina Wartski, a photographer from Hillsborough, won first place in the 2019 youth division of the contest for her photograph titled “Just Hanging.”
Wartski's submission depicted a close-up image of a frog placing its hands on leaves.
"My pieces stand out because I usually only shoot macro photography," she said in an email. "A lot of people shoot landscapes in the competition."
Macro photography emphasizes small objects, making them seem larger than they appear in reality.
Wartski also said the competition was low-stress and simple.
She's not sure if she will participate in this year's contest, but she encourages new contestants to submit photos.
“Don't stress, and do your own thing," Wartski said. "If you are too worried about being perfect, you are bound to mess up. Plus it's art, have fun with it while you are able to create things that you are proud of."
To enter, contestants must fill out an entry form located on the Orange County website and email their form and photos to Allen here.
@DTHCityState | firstname.lastname@example.org
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.