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EcoWatch's Best of Summer Photo Contest Winners Announced

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Summer has officially come to an end. Luckily, EcoWatch is here to keep its memory alive by sharing the winners of our "Best of Summer" photo contest.


For our third ever photo contest, we at EcoWatch broke the competition into two parts: one Judges' Choice, selected by a talented team of activists, photographers, adventurers and influencers, and one EcoWatchers' Choice, selected by readers like you!

The winner of the "Best of Summer" Judges' Choice award is ... Raymond Paul Freitas, for his Late Summer View of the Milky Way over Bodega Head, California.

Late Summer view of the Milky Way over Bodega Head, California.

Raymond Paul Freitas

"I love Milky Way images," Freitas said of the piece, "so I am always searching for stunning locations to photograph. I thought this coastal setting would be a perfect backdrop."

Freitas' photo was chosen by an accomplished team of judges: activists and filmmakers Gary and Sam Bencheghib, wildlife photographer Anthony Bucci, award-winning photographer and expedition leader Amos Nachoum and zoologist, activist and social media Influencer Margarita Samsonova.

Samsonova called the winning picture "stunning."

"I know how hard it is to shoot stars and edit pictures like that. The colors and clarity here are amazing. Winner shot!" she said.

Bucci, meanwhile, praised Freitas' technique.

"The photographer didn't over edit this image while post processing it. I like the crop used in the post processing," he said. "The colours and overall composition of this image keeps pulling me back to view it. I think overall the photographer spent some time to properly setup his camera and chose a decent foreground to break up the Milky Way."

Freitas is retired and lives in Santa Rosa, California. His favorite summer activities are landscape photography, pickleball and hiking.

And now the photograph voted for by you, our readers. The winner of the "Best of Summer" EcoWatchers' Choice award is … Michael Pizzi, for this majestic photograph of Yosemite Valley.

"Spirit of the Valley" at Yosemite National Park, California.

Michael Pizzi / Vibes and Horizons

"This was my very first time at Yosemite Valley, and it did not disappoint! The rock formations completely blew me away, the sunsets filled up the entire sky, and the wildlife seemed indifferent to my presence," Pizzi told EcoWatch of the moment he took the photo. He has since been back to the iconic national park several times.

But even before that first visit, Pizzi had long been drawn to the valley by the writings of John Muir and the photographs of Ansel Adams. He hopes to inspire other nature lovers in the same way.

"My goal here, and in every photo, is to bring the beauty of a location to people who have not yet had the privilege of experiencing it themselves," Pizzi said. "Hopefully viewers are motivated to make the trip to Yosemite, and join the fight to protect these places for future generations."

Pizzi lives in Los Angeles, where he runs Vibes and Horizons LLC, a scuba-diving travel agency, underwater photography sales platform and environmental blog. His favorite summer activities are scuba diving and exploring the ocean.

"On the weekends, you can usually find me out in The Channel Islands and occasionally down in Baja Mexico," he said. "Feel free to shoot me a message to go diving!"

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