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The 2014 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest (Winner Announcement in June)

The 5th International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on dark skies importance and the natural beauty of night sky.




















Submission is closed on 2014 April 22. New submissions will be considered only for the Guest Gallery. The winners will be announced by early June 2014.

The on-line 揈arth and Sky photo contest is open for submission by any photography enthusiasts of any age from around the world. International projects The World at Night and Global Astronomy Month along with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the organizers of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest. The contest was founded by TWAN and Dark Skies Awareness project in 2008 as a regional program. It was expanded to an international effort in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. In 2013 participants from about 45 countries submitted a wonderful collection of nightscape images. The contest news was broadcasted by major science news media world-wide and the winning images were widely promoted. With the growing impact of TWAN on both photography and astronomy communities along with the efforts of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organization behind the Global Astronomy Month, the Earth and Sky Photo Contest will have an even larger feedback this year.

Submitted photographs must be created in the "TWAN style" -- showing both the Earth and the sky -- by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) in the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called 搇andscape astrophotography''. This is similar to general "Nightscape Photography" but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

The contest theme, 揇ark Skies Importance, has two categories: 揃eauty of the Night Sky and 揂gainst the Lights. Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos by the winners in the last few years: the 2013 winners, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Winners of the 5th contest will be announced by mid-May 2014.

Contest Judging
The judging panel for the 5th Earth and Sky Photo Contest includes:
- David Malin (Widely considered the most distinguished night sky photographer in the world; TWAN member and consultant)
- Jim Richardson (National Geographic photojournalist for about 30 years, recognized for his exploration of environmental issues and advocacy for the night sky)
- Jerry Bonnell (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center scientist and the co-founder and editor of Astronomy Picture of the Day or APOD, one of the most visited and globally influential astronomy webpages)
- Connie Walker (Director of the Globe at Night program; science education specialist at the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory)
- Wally Pacholka (widely accomplished TWAN member in the United States)
- Tunc Tezel (TWAN member in Turkey, and one of the contest main coordinators)
- Tamas Ladanyi (TWAN photographer and coordinator in Hungary)
- Kwon O Chul (TWAN photographer and coordinator in Korea)
- Babak Tafreshi (Founder and director of TWAN; award-winning photographer; board member of Astronomers Without Borders)

The grand prizes for this year contest includes:
1- Canon EOS60Da camera body, sponsored by Woodland Hills Camera & Telescope, a major provider of astronomical and photography equipment in the United States. The 60Da is a DSLR camera specifically made for night sky photography. The camera has a low-noise sensor and a modified infrared filter for improved capture of red hydrogen emission nebulae. It is three times as sensitive to H-alpha light as the 60D allowing for richer, colorful and sharper shots of nebulae.
2- Polarie Star Tracker (complete set) by Vixen, including the tracking mount, the special tripod and ball heads, the polar scope, and the Polar Meter. Used by many of TWAN photographers, Polarie is a smart mount for DSLR cameras, an easy to run and ultra-compact mount to track the stars for nightscapes or deep sky photography using just a camera and a lens. On this video learn more about Polarie and its various use in nightscape photography.

There are other prizes for the 3rd to 5th winners at each category. Astronomik, the manufacturer of finest astronomical filters offered total of $1000 gift certificates for the winners. Astronomik is known for the clip-filters for Canon DSLR cameras (such as light pollution filter) which is now available for full frame cameras too, and large front lens filters for all other camera brands. The OPT Telescopes, one of the world's best known astronomical equipment provider, has offered a 6-inch Ritchey-Chretien Astrograph, a compact telescope tube that produce flat, sharp images with virtually no false color or coma. Vixen Europe (in Germany) has supported the contest with two ATREK Light 6x30 binoculars for widefield stargazing and nature viewing. Starizona, Arizona-based manufacturer of fine astronomical accessories such as Hyperstar Lenses for telescopic astrophotography, has offered a 4.5-inch Dobsonian telescope for a contest winner. Sky & Telescope, the world's most respected astronomy magazine, supports the contest with prizes as well.

The contest submission has the same procedure as sending images to TWAN Guest Gallery. Simply email up to 5 images to and write "CONTEST 2014" in the email subject. Some of the notable and winner images will also appear in the Guest Gallery. Even if you have already send an image for publication in the Guest Gallery, you can submit it again to the same email for the contest. Please note in sending submissions to TWAN contest you are obliged to be the author and copyright owner of the image(s) submitted. Each entry must have the following details (copy and paste this list into your email, for each image):

- Submitted file name:
- Photographer's web site:
- Photographer's email address:
- May we link to your email address? (yes/no)
- Name(s) of the photographer(s):
- Suggested title for the photo:
- Date the photo was taken (year/month/day):
- Location and country where the photo was taken:
- Describe what appears in the photo and why it is a valuable contest entry:
- Web site(s) relating to the foreground subject:

Entries must comply with the following requirements.

1- Size and format:
- Only photographs in digital format may be submitted. Photographs taken using film must be digitized for submission. Scanned prints may also be submitted.
- All entries must be accompanied by a short caption.
- Photographs must be submitted as high-quality JPEG files (level 1012). The preferred color spaces are Adobe RGB (1998) and sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Contestants are strongly encouraged to use color management and to use one of these color spaces for their submitted images.
- Submitted photographs should be no larger than 2000 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long (Extremely long panoramic images can be submitted up to 3000px long if necessary). File size should be no larger than about 2 Megabytes. Judges might request high-resolution files from finalists for final evaluation.

2- Number of submissions:
No more than 5 photographs may be submitted per person. If the contestant submits more images, only 5 of them will be randomly selected. Therefore extra submissions might result in removing your better images.

3- Date of Photographs and Submissions:
- The contest highlights the recent efforts of landscape astrophotography. Images must be taken since January 1, 2013. Photographs taken before January 1, 2013 are ineligible.
- Photographs must be submitted until the Earth Day, April 22, 2014. Winners will be announced by mid-May.

4- Style and subject of the photos:
- Entries must combine elements of both Earth and Night Sky梚.e., landscape astrophotography. Before submitting your photo(s) first have a look at some examples that meet the criteria for TWAN-style photos.
- Entries must follow the contest theme of dark skies importance with displaying the beauties of starry skies or the problem of increasing light pollution.
- A pair or a series of comparing images to display the difference between dark and light polluted sky can be submitted as one entry. The comparing images can make strong public impression on importance of dark skies. See a TWAN example of such images here.
- Photographs may be taken through a telescope, but must combine Earth and Sky composed in the same photograph. Photographs taken through a telescope that show only the sky are ineligible.

5- Originality, image processing, and composite images:
- Minor burning, dodging, color and exposure correction is acceptable. Cropping is acceptable. Fish-eye lenses are acceptable. High dynamic range images and stitched panoramas are acceptable only if the combined parts are taken at approximately the same time and with the same setting. Digital composition of a series of photographs taken successively at the same location with the same lens pointed in the same direction, for example to create a digital star trail image, is acceptable. Any other changes to the original photograph not mentioned here are not acceptable, and will render the submitted photo ineligible for a prize.
- Composite images made by combining images taken at different locations, different times, or using different lenses are ineligible.

6- Copyright and legal notes:
- The submitted photo must be the original work of the contest entrant. The entrant must be the copyright holder of the submitted photo.
- The Photographer retains complete copyright, but agrees to have his/her photograph published on TWAN website and on other online media in the reports about the contest.
- Model releases might be required for winning images that contain a person in the view.
- Submitted photographs must not contain provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content.
You can contact us for any further inquiry related to the contest.


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