The tangy butterscotch glow of a limestone cave in Serbia soaking up the slanting sun. The emerald green of lush German forest and pond covered with lush weeds and trees. The stark white and blue of a Ukraine snowscape 2,028 meters above sea level, where snowy peaks meet cloud and sky.
The colors of nature burst from the 15 finalists of Wiki Loves Earth, the photo contest now in its third year of crowdsourcing gorgeous landscapes from more than 13,600 participants. The top 15 photos this year come from Serbia, Bulgaria, Nepal, Estonia, Ukraine, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Germany, and Thailand.
National judging in 26 regions sorted through 115,000 photos and sent the best to international judges from Ghana, Germany, South Africa, Kosovo, France, India, Estonia, Indonesia, and Bulgaria.
This year, the contest expanded to include a collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, better known by its acronym UNESCO. Contestants were invited to upload photos in a separate category for UNESCO biosphere reserves in 120 different countries.
You can see more about Wiki Loves Earth on its website, and this year’s jury report on Commons.
This year’s Wiki Loves Earth contest in Serbia broke all records since the beginning of its organization in 2014. Over the course of May, 142 participants uploaded 1801 photos of 116 protected areas in Serbia. 115 of the contestants were new participants.
Unfortunately, 196 photos had to be disqualified because they were not marked with a proper template and ID, or images didn’t show natural heritage. Also, many participants had a problem with uploading images to Wikimedia Commons, so many of them were discovered after the end of the competition.
The competition was organized by Wikimedia Serbia in cooperation with the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and Tourist Organization of Serbia. The Institute provided us with the list of natural protected areas. The jury was comprised of experts: a biologist, a geologist and a photographer. It is interesting that the jury in the semifinals selected as many as 94 photos.
The media were very interested in reporting about the competition – over 100 announcements were recorded, and Radio Television of Vojvodina donated the commercial broadcast in prime time slot for 14 days. The commercial was created by WMRS volunteers.
On June 22nd, we held the award ceremony and the opening of the seven days exhibition at the Tourist organization of Serbia in front of numerous reporters. The participants were addressed by representatives of Wikimedia Serbia, Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia and the Tourist Organization of Serbia.
The president of Wikimedia Serbia Filip Maljković awarded the winners with a laptop (1st prize), a tablet (2nd prize) and an external hard disk (3rd prize). Also, five more photos received commendations from the Institute for Nature Conservation of Serbia, while Wikimedia Serbia commended four other participants for outstanding contribution to the competition.
This year, “Wikimedians of Bulgaria” User Group participates for the second time with a local edition of the photo contest for environmentally protected territories, “Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria“. And one of the ten winners in the national stage of the competition will be printed as an official postage stamp of the Republic of Bulgaria. This is the additional ‘surprise’ award, which the organizing team of the competition in 2016 arranged along with the planned prizes – vouchers for photographic equipment shops or bookshops, that will be provided under a project funded by the Wikimedia Foundation.
Which one of the ten photos would illustrate the postage stamp, was a decision taken by the members of the Committee of Postage Issuance under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technologies. And this choice has already been made. It is the 2nd-ranked photography in Top 10, by Emiliya Toncheva, which depicts a griffon vulture in the Valchi Dol Reserve near the small town of Madzharovo in Eastern Rhodopes, Bulgaria. Notably, Emiliya was the first volunteer to contribute her photos to the “Wiki Loves Earth 2016 Bulgaria” in the very first day of the contest, June, 1.
The Committee approved the young illustrator Dilyana Elshishka for designer of the postage stamp, and determined the nominal of BGN 2 (approx. EUR 1), which is the price for sending a postcard from Bulgaria to United States, for example. This stamp will be in valid use and circulation for the next three years. The attempt is to have the stamp ready around October, 1 when the local WLE organizing team is conducting the award ceremony in the National Museum of Natural History in Sofia.
The photograph selected by the Committee of Postage Stamp Issuance is special because it will stay on the very first Wikimedia-related postage stamp in Bulgaria, which also is the first one for the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest globally.
The photo is noteworthy also for touching one of the most important topics of Bulgarian environmental protection: protection of the birds of prey. In Bulgaria, all the three nesting or feeding vulture species – Griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus) and Cinereous vulture (Aegypius monachus) are rare and protected species, and the Bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) has been since 2007 in a re-introduction program, because of being extinct from the territory of Bulgaria. And while the griffon vulture’s population can nowadays be considered stabilized, the Egyptian vulture continues to be the most rapidly declining among all birds of prey in Europe, with more than 80% decreased population in the Balkans for the last 30 years. Poisons intended to kill agricultural pests are the main reason for the extinction of vultures, whose ecologic role is the one of the natural sanitarians of wildlife.
Author and translator: Vassia Atanassova
Editors: Anelia Bobeva, Nikola Kalchev, Stanislav Yordanov
A record number of over 110.000 pictures, taken by over 13.000 uploaders in 26 participating countries and in biosphere reserves of our partner UNESCO were uploaded during this year’s national round of Wiki Loves Earth! Each of the participating communities chose their best ten pictures which represent them in the international round of the competition. Now the nine-member jury has the hard task to choose the best pictures worldwide.
The jury consist of nine members, who live all around the globe – Dietmar Bartz, Katya Zareva-Simeonova, Besnik Hamiti, Chris Woodrich, Doris Anson-Yevu, Isla Haddow-Flood, Jeevan Jose, Janno Loide, and Qunli Han. They will choose the best pictures, which represent an identified natural monument, natural park, protected area, etc., including pictures of animals taken there. All of the pictures, uploaded during Wiki Loves Earth were published under a free licence.
Most pictures were uploaded in India – 31.317, followed by Germany with 18.161 and Ukraine with 11.475. The highest number of uploaders was found in India with 6.318, followed by Germany with 1.108 and Pakistan with 1.098. For India this year was the second time it participated and its results have been impressive. Among the newcomers, Australia had the best results with 3.509 pictures uploaded by 595 people. The other states which participated for the first time this year were Greece, Albania, Moldova, and Kosovo.
This year Moldova had the Wiki Loves Earth organized for the first time. During a span of one month, amateur and professional photographers from Moldova had the chance to upload their photos of natural heritage monuments of the country, in the same time contributing to the scarce free media collection of Moldovan nature online.
During a month of contest, the organizers received 600 images depicting 70 natural monuments and protected areas. These are small numbers on a global scale, but decent numbers for Moldova: prior to the contest, only 7 natural monuments had illustrations on Wikimedia Commons. The uploaded files were being added to the corresponding articles immediately, making Moldova the best participating country in terms of media usage (23% of files are used in articles).
The promotion efforts gathered a small amount of actual uploaders. As much as 17 people had at least one valid upload. The jury, consisting of two local professional photographers and one Wikipedian, identified the ten best ten works and announced them at the end of July.
The winners and participants were invited to attend the awarding ceremony on on July 24 at the Hasdeu municipal library of Chișinău. During the meetup, attendants had the opportunity to see a mini-exposition of winning photographies, chat with some of the participants, and also ask questions about Wikipedia, specifically Wikipedia activities connected to Wikipedia in Moldova. There were voices expressing interest for an eventual possible Wiki Loves Monuments in the country.
Please welcome the winning pictures of Wiki Loves Earth in Morocco!
Morocco has participated in Wiki Loves Earth 2015 and around 1700+ pictures have been uploaded under creative commons license through this event. This year we received around 3 thousand photos and it’s just great! 19 are already recognized as quality images on Wikimedia Commons and more to come.
577 participants took part in the contest and almost all of them are newbies. We are happy to introduce new people into the wiki world 🙂 Lets work on using these images, we now have, in Wikipedia articles!
Ten best pictures of Morocco this year you see below. You are free to reuse them, but please mention the author and the license.
Dam Moulay Youssef, Marrakech Province by Simosure, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
A landscape in Morocco by Othmane.elam, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
An Addax in the station of aclimation Safia, south of Dakhla by Haytem93, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Erg Chebbi, Merzouga by Lefidele, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Aïn Zarka, Tetouan Province by Mohamed Haddi, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
The Cave of the Camel, Berkane Province by Soufianerrami, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Panorama of Djebel Toubkal by Webster93, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Merzouga by Hzidane10, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Barbary macaque in Azrou by Kamil-laghjichi, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Azilal by Marahlija, freely licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
One more country to reveal its top-10 pictures. Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Thailand took place in June. 148 National parks in Thailand were eligible sites to upload their pictures on Wikimedia Commons. 422 new images we now have from these parks — isn’t that great? 🙂
Please, may your eyes rest on these wonderful pictures.
In the entire competition of Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal, 271 user participated and uploaded their images of the natural heritage sites of Nepal to Wikimedia Commons. Top uploader of the competition is user Indra Rai who donated 264 files, the second and third uploaders are users Bijay chaurasia and Nabin845 with 93 and 92 files respectively.
To felicitate the winners of the Wiki Loves Earth 2016 in Nepal, Maithili Wikimedians organized an event on 9th July, 2016. It was held in Masala Cottage, Kathmandu and was visited by 75 people. Winners received their prizes and were praised a lot for capturing such marvelous places of the country.
The organizers thank to all the participants who took part in the contest. Thanks to you Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects have now more wonderful photos of wonderful country — Nepal.
She is Katerina Zareva-Simeonova. She was the Bulgarian representative in the nine-person jury last year, which evaluated the photos at the International stage in the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest. The curious detail is that in 2015 the contest was organized in a total number of 26 countries, but not all of them had representatives in the jury. Bulgaria was invited to appoint a jury member, although the country takes part in the contest for the first time.
Due to the contest specifics, the appointed jury member had to be a biologist or ecologist with experience in photography. Katya is much more than that – she is also a big friend of the Free Encyclopedia. 🙂
After the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest finished and we announced the results, we asked Katya for an interview. We wanted to learn what it means to be a juror in a contest with so many breath-taking pictures…
Katya, present yourself in a couple of words. 🙂
My name is Katerina Zareva-Simeonova, I live in Sofia and my formal education is ecology. I have been working for 17 years in the Sofia Zoo, and I am currently the head of the Ecological scientific-educational centre in the Zoo. This is the department that accomplishes the Zoo’s function of providing education in ecology, develop educational materials and projects, one of which was the joint project with the Bulgarian version of the Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia.
Apart from the area of zoology, my interests are related to photography and popular science documentaries. I have published photos of animals and nature in various journals and books, and I have authored more than 100 educational and documentary ecological films, mainly about Bulgarian nature.
You have been juror in other photo contests, too. Tell us more about them, and what made the difference with the “Wiki Loves Earth” contest?
Yes, I have juried for competitions for children photographs and pictures, as well for film competitions on national level. For me, it was a great pleasure to be part of the International Jury of such a public photo competition like WLE, with already shortlisted pictures from 26 countries around the world. We had to review and evaluate 259 photos, showing the nature and biodiversity in the protected areas in these countries. For this purpose, we were provided with a special software tool and system for evaluation, helping jurors to calmly and independently evaluate all the photos.
What were the criteria, which the jury used to evaluate the photos. What was the most difficult part of the contest for you?
The criteria for the “Wiki Loves Monuments” contest are specific, since the contest has the certain goal of stimulating people to take pictures of the nature in their countries and create and extend the freely licensed information in Wikipedia, and in Commons in particular. For this reason, the criteria of evaluation were: technical quality, originality, and encyclopedic and educational value.
What hindered me was the huge choice of pictures of high quality and intriguing content. That was challenging for my evaluation, that had to be a very accurate and objective one. In the same time, that was for me a thrilling aesthetic and cultural experience, unveiling for me unbelievably beautiful natural landmarks and sceneries I haven’t expected to exist. I think that the concourse delivered its message and accomplished its mission, getting me to know and love the Earth even more than before!
None of the Bulgarian photos has been distinguished among the Top 15. What did we miss, in your opinion?
The winning pictures from the Bulgarian national stage of the competition depicted landscapes and animals from the natural parks of Rousse Lom River, Vratsa Balkan, Belasitsa, Belogradchik Rocks, Strandzha, Pirin and Rila mountains. All of them were gorgeous and rightfully represent our nature. At least for me, the pictures that affected me mostly, were the Belogradchik Rocks and the panorama view from Peak Vihren in Pirin.
However, the competition was really tough, and I think that our pictures lacked some originality. Both the audience and the jury are satiated with visual information, they want more colour, more of the wow-effect. It’s no surprise that the winning picture is a landscape from Pakistan, featuring buildings. Humans need to see themselves and the trace they leave onto nature, in order to compare themselves with it.
Katya, you are the head of the Ecological scientific-educational centre in the Sofia Zoo. In your opinion, how such photo contests contribute to raising the society’s awareness about environmental issues?
First, the contest participants have the opportunity to express their attitude to nature and show a favourite place or animal of theirs. On the other hand, in this very competition, where images are made freely available, this message reverberates, carries knowledge, and is capable of changing the mindset of many people.
I believe that nowadays, when people are impatient enough to watch even several minutes of a video in the Internet, photography has a particularly pronounced and direct impact. An image can take the breath away and cause great excitement, especially if it captures a beautiful natural landscape. I still think that beauty can save the world, and this is why I rely on it, rather than on the aesthetic of ugliness or of shocking imagery.
Which picture was your personal favourite?
I won’t try to hide that for me the most interesting photos were the ones depicting animals. This is my field of expertise, and I well know how hard it is to take a picture of an animal, especially in wildlife. My favourite photo, which turned out to be favourite for the rest of the jury members as well, came from Brazil and captured the moment of birth of an Apis Mellifera drone. That image received the special jury prize in the contest.
When we talk about photos of animals, why is it important to have them pictured in their natural habitat?
Taking pictures of animals in their natural environment is critically important, as it raises the educational and encyclopedic value of the photos. Animals are part of a certain ecosystem, and must not be considered outside of it. Such images are the most appreciated ones and the ones most difficult to take, especially when it comes to species that inhabit a different from humans’ environment, like river and ocean species, birds in flight, or underground dwellers.
Nowadays, with the recent advance of technologies, cinema and photography have allowed us to peek into almost every corner of our planet and see amazing and intimate moments of the lives of its inhabitants. These images have a huge scientific value, too.
Katya, thank you for this interview, and for you being a juror in the Wiki Loves Earth contest! It was really important for us that we had an appointed representative in the International Jury, as of the first participation of Bulgaria in the concourse. And even more so, that our representative was you. 🙂
Interview and translation: Vassia Atanassova Editor: Maya Marinova