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Shirley Fire, 2014. Stuart Palley

By Patrick Rogers

During the day, freelance photographer Stuart Palley covers news events for publications like the Los Angeles Times and shoots images for advertising and PR clients. By night, he pursues his passion: photographing the wildfires that have been ravaging, with increasing frequency, the forests, grasslands, towns and cities of his native California. Over the past five years, Palley has documented nearly 75 fires, from the Mexican border to the Shasta Trinity National Forest near Oregon.

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"Nature's heterogeneity and biodiversity are at the epicenter of my thankfulness and happiness. Here, deep within a saline wetland, morning light shines through the dew covered understory revealing an orb-weaver's web." Dakota Altman

EcoWatch is excited to announced the winner of our first-ever Gratitude Photo Contest. Participants sent us their best shots of what in nature they were most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Our three amazing judges—Greenpoint Innovations founder Stephen Donofrio, marine scientist Gaelin Rosenwaks and documentary photographer Marc Bryan-Brown—picked their favorites from more than 70 photo entries of breathtaking landscapes, incredible wildlife and majestic waterways.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Westend61 / Getty Images

Update: The window for photo submissions has ended. The winner will be announced this Wednesday, November 21.

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

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Caribbean Flamingo. Claudio Contreras Koob

By Lisa Moore

Imagine yourself, camera in hand, suddenly spotting a grazing elk, a hummingbird feeding its chicks, a grizzly charging a rival or a bumble bee gathering pollen. You want the shot, but how do you get it without disturbing the natural behavior of the beautiful animal you're hoping to capture through your lens?

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Human's impact on planet Earth is huge. Thanks to the work of environmentalist and photographer, J Henry Fair, we can now get a bird's-eye view of the world's ever-increasing demand for energy, eating habits and rampant consumerism that are degrading our planet.


Fair's new book, Industrial Scars, The Hidden Costs of Consumption, shows the effects industrial production has on our environment and exposes the dirty "secrets from oil drilling, fracking and coal-ash waste, to large scale agricultural production and abandoned mining operations."

Fair's book has received rave reviews from many, including Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. "Think of these images as a surveillance camera for the planet, recording the biggest crimes against nature we've ever imagined," McKibben said. "Images like these will be the standards around which we muster."

The New York Times' Roberta Smith said, "The vivid color photographs of J Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting ... information and form work together, to devastating effect."

In the book, Fair's images are accompanied by detailed explanations from award-winning science writer, Lewis Smith.

"The overall message is clear," according to Fair. "It is up to us to accept a consumer responsibility and environmental awareness and to change our habits if we want to ensure a better world for future generations to enjoy."

For more information, visit Fair's Facebook page.

By Clara Chaisson

What on Earth have you photographed?

This open-ended question, asked annually by the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition, invites predictably diverse submissions: A leopard prowling around Mumbai's Aarey Milk Colony, a Chilean volcano's violent eruption, and the surprisingly peaceful relationship between a blackfish and a venomous Portuguese man o' war, just to name a few.

But out of some 5,000 images, it was White Rhino, by Maroesjka Lavigne of Ghent, Belgium, that snagged the grand prize.

"White Rhino," photographed by Maroesjka Lavigne in Etosha National Park, Namibia.Maroesjka Lavigne

"I love the camouflage and the texture—you can almost feel the cracked mud," wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, who chaired the panel of expert judges, said in a press release. "This photograph also has a poignant, ghostly quality that reflects how rhinos are slipping away before our eye."

For the last six years, the number of rhinos poached for their horns has been climbing and the International Union for Conservation of Nature said poachers killed 1,338 of the endangered animals in 2015. The photo competition hopes that capturing the natural world's incredible variety on film will inspire us to save it in real life.

The "BigPicture" exhibit, on display at the California Academy of Sciences through Oct. 30, features 48 photographs from 27 countries. The judges this year awarded prizes in seven categories: Human/Nature; Terrestrial Wildlife; Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora; Aquatic Life; Winged Life; Art of Nature; and Photo Essay: Coral Reef.

Explore the prize-winning images below:

"Big Cat in My Backyard!" photographed by Nayan Khanolkar in Mumbai, India.Nayan Khanolkar

"The Courageous Crossing," photographed by Manoj Shah in Kenya's Maasai Mara National Reserve.Manoj Shah

"The Awakening: Landscape of Fear," photographed by Francisco Negroni in Comuna de Fresia, Region de los Lagos, Chile.Francisco Negroni

"Deep Sky," photographed by Eduardo Acevedo in Los Gigantes, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.Eduardo Acevedo

"Pelicans Composition," photographed by Marco Urso in Lake Kerkini, Greece.Marco Urso

"Microscopic View of Sulfar Crystals in Polarized Light," photographed by Peter Juzak in Wennigsen, Germany.Peter Juzak

"The Coral Triangle," photographed by Eric Madeja in Coral Triangle.Eric Madeja

Reposted with permission from our media associate onEarth.

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