By Judi Lapsley Miller, creator of the Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Photography Challenge, now the “Art of Birding Wildlife & Nature Art &Photography Community.”

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After setting weekly challenges for 5 years, I’ve run out of puff. So in 2023, rather than ayear-long challenge, the group has now morphed into an ongoing community fullof support, projects, challenges, and fun – all with a wildlife and nature theme. Each month, a guest or participant will set a challenge for the group, which you can join asyou wish. I do hope you'll joinus!

Please feel free to share this post with other wildlife-loving friends.

In December 2022, we wrapped up the year with some weekly sparks that evoked peace and calm. The monthly challenge was to try and apply some of the things learned throughout the year, where the emphasis was on creating more than one image and thinking in terms of projects instead.

Week 49: Relaxation

“It's a busy time of year, so bring us some zen with a photograph that evokes relaxation.”

Moderator Paula Vigus (NZ) selected Judy Stokes’ (NZ) monarch photo. Paula says “Judy’s photo of a Monarch is hard to pass. There’s nothing more relaxing than a butterfly, and I love the colours and composition. I think that the blurred background in those muted greens against the vibrant butterfly is also particularly nice. It’s just an all round pleasure to look at.”

Week 50: Dreamy

“Take a dreamy wildlife or nature photo - interpret however you see fit.”

Moderator Marion Skelton (NZ) chose Kathy Keddle’s (NZ) dreamy hoya photo. She says “"Kathy’s photo of a hoya flower perfectly encapsulates the beauty of the delicate, waxy blooms in soft focus creating a serene dreamy effect. A beautiful image." 

Week 51: Simplicity

“Take a photo of something in the natural world but keep the composition simple and serene. To help achieve this, consider including only one subject, one colour, and one shape.”

New AoB moderator Astrid Authier-Hall (NZ) selected Barbara Newton’s (NZ) beautiful fern photo. Astrid says “: Barbara's photo stood out to me because of the monotone greens - from light green to dark green, and the repeated triangle shapes. She made sure that the background was blurred by using a large aperture (f/5),which helped to focus attention on the fern frond. The elements work really well to make a simple but eye-catching photo.”

Week 52: Off the beaten track

My favourite challenge and a great way to reset and start the new year. Get off the beaten track and away from the madding crowds - head further into a conservation area than you normally would, or investigate a new spot. Inspire others to do the same by taking a compelling photo.

Moderator Kaylene Helliwell (NZ) selected Angelique Liu’s (USA) misty image. Angelique says “My friend and I went out into the cold searching for otters. We heard through the grapevine that some were visiting a pond not too far from us. Alas, we did not see them, but we got some quiet time away from all responsibilities and recharged ourselves. The photo shows the dock looking out over a reflection of bare trees on a pond on a foggy, cold winter morning.”

Kaylene says she selected the photo because “I just loved the trees and their reflections with the fog giving it an eerie feel making a stunning image. I also enjoyed the back story of otter searching!”

Monthly challenge for Dec

I couldn’t go past Gayle Marien’s (Australia) beautiful photo essay about the Eastern Yellow Robin. Gayle has been an AoB star this year, and I’m delighted to announce that she’s come aboard in 2023 as a challenge setter and moderator, along with Melanie Day and Astrid Authier Hall!

Gayle always puts her heart and soul into each challenge, digging deep to uncover the intentions of the challenge setter and researching what she needs to achieve it. Here she drew on lessons learned in previous challenges, to create an essay with a theme and consistent style. Here’s what Gayle says about her subject:

Eastern Yellow Robin –Plumage from juvenile to adult

I’ve been fortunate this year to see Eastern Yellow Robins in their varying stages of plumage from juvenile to adult. It’s quite a transition, so I thought I would put it together in a photo essay. I see these beautiful little birds almost every time I go into the Wonthaggi Wetlands and sometimes in our backyard. They are not as skittish as many of the birds and so make excellent photography subjects.

The Eastern Yellow Robins are Australian native birds which grow to about 16cm. The male and female have the same plumage. They are prevalent in native bush and scrub lands on the Eastern Australian mainland, mostly along the coast. They eat spiders, insects and the like, which they spy on the ground and then pounce on from their perch.

Art of Birding in 2023

Join us in2023 where we are starting with some photography-based New Year resolutions totake us on our personal journeys. Jointhe Artof Birding Wildlife & Nature community.

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