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Assignment

Landmark Moments

This assignment ran from Feb 8 to Feb 29, 2016.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the U.S. National Park Service, we decided to try something new at Your Shot. Over the course of 2016, we will launch multiple assignments about parks—each one covering a different aspect of national parks all over the world. For more on this series, see our Editor's Spotlight.

In portrait photography, landscapes—like people—have their best moments.

This month we will focus on images of landmarks and iconic features that represent national parks around the world. Think of the Half Dome in Yosemite National Park in the United States, Mount Huangshan in China, or the waterfalls of the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

These are some of the most breathtaking places in the world, but we also encourage you to work in a park near your home. Good landscape photography is much more than documenting beautiful landscapes (although it undeniably helps if you have something unusual in front of your camera). A surprising interpretation of a less scenic landscape is just as good in this assignment as an image that captures the magic of a spectacular landmark.

We are interested in seeing what you can add to the scene. Surprise us! Wait for magic light, find an unexpected angle, search for surprising details, or capture animals in a wild setting. And above all, remember that less is often more when photographing landscapes. Create a special atmosphere with the tools you have, and give us a unique sense of your chosen place.

Try to transcend the scene in your work, but do this in the field, with your camera, not on your computer. This is what we will be looking for in your images.

Since this assignment calls for national parks images, please provide the name of your park in the caption. Behind-the-scenes stories may also help. As landscape photographers ourselves, we know that it is sometimes difficult to stand back from the subjective feelings and circumstances that surround the creation of images. Moments that have been real for you are only glimpses of reality for us, the viewers of your photograph. Have you captured a moment that makes us stop and invites us to stay? We will let you know in our comments.

Curated by:

Orsolya Haarberg &  Erlend Haarberg
Contributing National Geographic Photographers
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

    Completed assignments—with our favorite photos included—will be published online. Learn more.
  • Published

    Once the submission period is over, we'll review all contributions and select our favorite images to be included in the story. Learn more.
Published Mar 9, 2016.
Thank you for your contributions!

Behind the Edit

Posted apr 10, 2016

Please enjoy this Behind the Edit featuring a few favorite photos that didn't make the final story.

Do It With Commitment

Posted feb 23, 2016

Outstanding landscape images are often a result of careful planning, especially the photographs made in national parks. We are not surrounded by those wild scenes in our everyday life; they are distant, and once you are there, the only things you can control are your camera and your thoughts. The rest is determined by natural light and the weather, and you need to be patient to get everything right.

Landscape photography must become a lifestyle (at least for a period of time) if you want to succeed. It is essential to know the place you’re photographing, and you obtain this knowledge by living with nature for longer periods.

We spend weeks, sometimes months, at a single location. We often are confronted with the most amazing views high up in the mountains where weather can change fast and clouds add to the scene. This requires a lot of hiking, climbing, and countless overnight stays in a tent in the most remote locations. If we are lucky, something totally unexpected happens, and it is important to take the opportunity, handle the situation, and act fast.

If you want to make an impactful landscape photograph, you have to own the place, at least for that one single image.

Being aware of this, we knew that only very few of you would embark on the challenge of getting out into the wild and make images especially for this assignment. Most photographs we are receiving are archival images, which are fine, and we are really happy that so many of you had such amazing captures from national parks on your hard drives.

Therefore we are really excited about seeing your last entries, but please keep in mind that we want to see images made in national parks! If you noticed that your image is among our favorites and you forgot to put the name of the national park in the caption, then please do it now. Thank you so much for working with us in this assignment!

Do It With Commitment

Posted feb 23, 2016

Outstanding landscape images are often a result of careful planning, especially the photographs made in national parks. We are not surrounded by those wild scenes in our everyday life; they are distant, and once you are there, the only things you can control are your camera and your thoughts. The rest is determined by natural light and the weather, and you need to be patient to get everything right.

Landscape photography must become a lifestyle (at least for a period of time) if you want to succeed. It is essential to know the place you’re photographing, and you obtain this knowledge by living with nature for longer periods.

We spend weeks, sometimes months, at a single location. We often are confronted with the most amazing views high up in the mountains where weather can change fast and clouds add to the scene. This requires a lot of hiking, climbing, and countless overnight stays in a tent in the most remote locations. If we are lucky, something totally unexpected happens, and it is important to take the opportunity, handle the situation, and act fast.

If you want to make an impactful landscape photograph, you have to own the place, at least for that one single image.

Being aware of this, we knew that only very few of you would embark on the challenge of getting out into the wild and make images especially for this assignment. Most photographs we are receiving are archival images, which are fine, and we are really happy that so many of you had such amazing captures from national parks on your hard drives.

Therefore we are really excited about seeing your last entries, but please keep in mind that we want to see images made in national parks! If you noticed that your image is among our favorites and you forgot to put the name of the national park in the caption, then please do it now. Thank you so much for working with us in this assignment!

Adding to the Scene

Posted feb 16, 2016

We realized after receiving the first thousand images how challenging this assignment is. You are limited to small areas in the world to photograph your entries, areas that probably most of you visit only during summer holidays. These places are often difficult to access, and overnight stays in the parks are also limited unless you have a tent with you.

We talk about national parks—areas primarily selected and designated for the protection of wildlife and natural landscapes, where human impact should be kept to a minimum. And when we ask you to send us images of landscapes from such areas, then we would like to see pictures without human influence (except traces of cultural heritage in parks where this is the conservation focus).

You can include people in your image, but then you need to do it with a purpose, such as adding a human figure to your frame that provides a sense of scale in a landscape without point of reference. Roads, fences, and electric lines destroy the illusion of the natural, primeval state of a park. Try to avoid these if possible.

Once you are out there, limit your frame to landscape elements that add to the scene. Anything that distracts the viewer's attention from the focal subject should not be part of the image. So, look for the surprise element in the landscape, and once you find it, look for simplicity and precision in framing it.

There are already some good examples coming in, but we would like to see more! Thank you for your contributions!

Orsolya Haarberg &  Erlend Haarberg

Orsolya Haarberg & Erlend Haarberg

Contributing National Geographic Photographers
Orsolya Haarberg & Erlend Haarberg are a Hungarian/Norwegian couple. They have been working together as freelance nature photographers in the last decade, specializing in photographing landscape and wildlife in the Nordic countries. Their work has been widely published in Europe, including GEO and BBC Wildlife Magazine, and they produced three stories for National Geographic Magazine in the last four years. The Haarbergs are the authors of three books: Lapland – the Alaska of Europe; Iceland – land of contrasts and Iceland in all its splendour.