One of the things we love about outdoor photography is it gets you outside. Often, this means exploring new places, or at least exploring old places in a new way, such as at sunrise or during the winter months when it’s easier to get holed up inside. And having new experiences in nature is good for the body, mind, and soul.
We received nearly 300 reader-submitted photos in the categories of Nature, Sports, People, Wildlife, and Anything Goes as part of our 2023 contest. That’s a lot of exploration, and we hope you enjoyed venturing out to find and capture your entries. Thank you to everyone who sent in images, and of course, congratulations to our winners!
On the following pages are the photos that most engaged and amazed our judges, plus a few honorable mentions that we felt were too good not to share.
This compelling and relatable photo was taken at Sherwood Forest, an outdoor adventure camp for youth from under-resourced communities that is located in Lesterville, Missouri. “This single photo captures a lot of what Sherwood Forest’s programs are about: determination, facing a challenge, overcoming fears, and growing foundational skills critical to later life success,” said Nieters.
“As a photographer, I like the clarity and composition of this shot capturing the camper’s ascent up the Tango Tower ropes and climbing course,” she added. “The vibrant red accents from the belay rope and helmet against the soft, blurry woodsy backdrop adds a dynamic and visually striking element to the image. It effectively conveys the camper’s resilience and the thrill of the climb, making it a powerful storytelling tool that engages viewers and invites them to share in the adventure.”
Branden Johnson captured the last ray of light as the sun set on Knob Lick Towersite in Knob Lick, Missouri.
Scott Perdue snapped this perfectly peaceful photo from the bluffs above the Meramec River in Bourbon, Missouri.
Bob Arnold was riding his mountain bike on Zombie Trail in Wildwood, Missouri, when he stopped to appreciate the sunrise.
John Niebling was moved by this supportive spectator spreading cheer to runners at the Chicago Marathon.
Thomas Ziegler submitted this photo of his daughter playing peek-a-boo at Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills, Missouri.
Jane DiCampo’s image of a mid-flight flip at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in Middle Brook, Missouri, has us wondering how the jumper fared.
In John Taylor’s first-place photo, the peloton chases a breakaway pack during the elite men’s Gateway Cup crit race at Francis Park in St. Louis.
Michelle Hamilton snapped this keeper on a recent family fishing trip to Maramec Spring Park near St. James, Missouri.
Nick Richards spotted Jason Ryan spotting Anthony Burns during a bouldering session near Farmington, Missouri.
Scott Perdue saw what the buzz was all about at the Marian Rollins Sunflower Garden at Cliff Cave County Park in St. Louis County.
Two-time winner John Taylor took this chaotic image at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge near St. Joseph, Missouri, during the snow geese migration.
Masayo Urushidani found these frogs piling on at a pond at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood, Missouri.
Suzanne Asaturian created this photo collage to describe her daily encounters with nature while hiking, kayaking, or simply sitting in her backyard near Carbondale, Illinois.
Repeat winner John Niebling used a four-shot composite to capture a freight train ahead of an approaching storm in Columbia, Illinois.
Sabine McDowell took this bike portrait at the old Missouri Pacific Lines/Rock Island station on Centaur Road in Chesterfield, Missouri.
About Our Prizes
The grand-prize winner in the 2023 Terrain Photo Contest will receive a pair of Nocs Standard Issue 8×25 Waterproof Binoculars. Inspired by the original seafarers and coastal pioneers, Nocs Provisions is a collective of people who are stoked to seek the unseen, to travel curiously, and to discover the best spots along the way. Its designs are inspired by the seemingly symmetric yet completely unique lines of the sea and the coastal dunes where they meet. Its logo is inspired by the sunset. And its packaging is plastic-free. nocsprovisions.com
First-place winners will receive performance sunglasses from Tifosi Optics. Born in 2003, Tifosi has grown to become one of the most recognized and trusted brands in cycling, running, outdoor, and golf optics. Its mission is to provide technically advanced eyewear to enthusiasts of all outdoor activities. It designs, tests, and tortures its products to enhance your sport, whether you’re running a 5k, riding your first century, or playing 18 holes. tifosioptics.com
Second-place winners will receive a $25 gift certificate to the Big Muddy Adventures Guide Shop located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis. The shop carries an inventory heavily focused on water activities, as well as apparel and camping gear, with featured brands including Northwest River Supply (NRS), Klean Kanteen, BioLite, Clipper Canoes, Ozark River Walkers, Frost River Trading Co., NEMO, Primus, Mountainsmith, and more. 2muddy.com/shop
Third-place winners will receive a pair of Terrain branded socks from DeFeet. The socks are manufactured with the highest quality sustainable fibers and are guaranteed to withstand normal conditions of cycling, hiking, and daily wear. DeFeet’s proprietary fabric blend combines 50-percent recycled yarns and 50-percent merino wool. By moving some of its production to these fibers, DeFeet has been able to dramatically reduce its environmental footprint. defeet.com
All prize winners also receive a one-year subscription to Terrain Magazine. terrain-mag.com