Native yellow sunflowers in a field

2019 Photo Contest

Seeing Seasons

camera and photos


Wild River State Park. By Kay V. Christianson


Kay V. Christianson
at Wild River State Park

How would you describe the mood?

I use this poem whenever I show and share my nature photographs. It sets the mood for my pieces and holds true for this photo of the Night Heron:
Write your story,
sing your song,
illuminate your vision of the natural world.
That we may better see
our relation with Nature,
experience its gifts to us,
and deepen our love
and care for the earth.”
~ Bonnie Gisel

How did you set up this photo?

Whenever I go for a hike, my camera is always with me. I had not expected to see a black crowned night heron that day. But what an awesome surprise to come upon it and be ready to capture its beauty. It was a very lucky day!


Milky Way over Judge C.R. Magney State Park, July 2019. By James Misuraca


James Misuraca
at Judge C. R. Magney State Park

Where was the photo taken?

From the road between campsite 5 and 6.

What was the mood like?

The entire campground was asleep and the wind was gently blowing through the tree tops. The night sky was so crystal clear and there was absolutely zero light pollution.

I couldn’t fall asleep for most of the night. I just stared at the sky and watched the stars curled up with my dog. Sadly our dog passed away a month later unexpectedly, so I will always remember this trip and that night as our last adventure together.

We hiked Magney, Grand Portage and Temperance the next day, but nothing else we saw was as beautiful as that night.
I also want to say, I just barely got into photography with a Canon EOS M50, and a few hours of YouTube tutorials. Anyone can take a shot like this with a little effort and the right night.


Maplewood State Park. By Alison Christensen


Alison Christensen
at Maplewood State Park

Where was the photo taken?

Just off the trail leading up to the Little Grass Lake hike-in campsite.

When did you take the photo?

It was early October, overcast, and pretty cold outside (as you may have gathered from boots and hat). It was very quiet and tranquil. Nobody else was nearby on the trail.

How would you describe the mood?

I felt like I had stumbled across this hidden magical fairytale land. You can’t see this from the photo, but there were orange and yellow leaves gently falling from the trees and hitting the surface of the pond like it was raining gold flakes in slow motion. And here we were just standing in the middle of it, almost like time had stopped.


Split Rock Lighthouse SS Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Lighting. By John Rystad


John Rystad
at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Where was the photo taken?

I was positioned close to the southern point on Pebble Beach within the park.

What brought you to this place?

The annual lighting of the beacon to honor the lives lost on the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.

What were the condition like?

The day was unseasonably cold. I believe the temperature was around 15 degrees and I remember wondering if I had dressed warm enough to withstand the cold for the anticipated hours of waiting for the light to appear.

How would you describe the mood?

When I look at the image I think it generates a mood fitting the event. The water and clouds give it a cold and unforgiving feel worthy of the unforgiving lake. The light from the beacon and support buildings gives a feeling of warmth and safety.

Take & Submit Photos

of State Parks and Trails
in summer, fall, winter or spring

> Learn more

Share your photos from any Minnesota State Park or State Trail that represent one of the four distinct seasons we enjoy in this state, however you enjoy seeing or being in it.


Aug. 31, 2019

> Learn more


Aug. 31 – Submission deadline

Sep. 1 – 15 – Judging selection process

Sep. 16 – Winners announced online and on social media


Some details and
judging criteria

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Photo requirements

Limit of 4 photos per photographer.

Photo must be submitted by the photographer who has full rights (e.g., copyright has not been sold to another person or entity)

Photo must be in .jpeg or .jpg format

Photo must not depict anything against the rules of the park or trail where photo was taken.

Judging Criteria

A panel of judges will be choosing the winners using the following criteria:

1. Content – capturing the unique qualities/experiences/beauty of that park or trail and its seasonality.

2. Composition – the framing and balance of elements within the shot.

3. Technical Quality – the lighting, crispness, color, focus of the shot.


Framed photo at the Park +
Gift Cards + more

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Winners will receive a variety of prizes.

Gift Cards

A total of $480 in Minnesota State Parks Gift Cards will be awarded to the top three winners from each of the 4 categories:

1st = $50 value
2nd = $40 value
3rd = $30 value

Framed & Displayed at Park

First place photos from each category will be printed, framed and displayed with plaque at the state park (or nearest park with requisite visitor facility) for a set period of time (exact time to be determined, but under a year).

Magazine Feature

First place photos from each category will be published in Minnesota Trails Magazine, which is distributed to all state parks and many bike shops, plus mailed to P&TC members.

2020 Calendar

All photos have the potential to be featured (with photographer credit) as a month in our 2020 calendar. Any photographer whose photo is selected will receive two copies of the calendar, plus a discount on any additional copies.

Recognition on Website & Social Media

All submitted photos (that abide by the rules and criteria) will be displayed on this page of our website and winners will recognized.

All winning photographs will be recognized on our Facebook  and Instagram pages.