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Show Me Your Wilderness

This assignment ran from Jul 22 to Aug 11, 2014.

Greetings, wilderness photographers. This assignment will focus on your idea of wilderness and the wilderness or wild nature that abounds in your daily life. This could be as big as a grove of trees near where you live or a stream that flows through your city, or as small as a flower that has thrived despite the odds in a land of pavement.

We're timing this assignment to the upcoming September issue of National Geographic Magazine, where we celebrate the idea of wilderness in an article that marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which was signed into law in September 1964.

William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin wrote an important essay on wilderness called "The Trouble with Wilderness" which emphasizes the need to value the wilderness in our daily lives. You may find this useful as you think about what wilderness means to you.

For this assignment we will only be publishing photos taken during this assignment—between July 22 and August 11—that animate and realize your personal idea of wild, of the wilderness in your own daily life. (The assignment closes on August 11th at 12PM EDT) Before you head out, check your camera settings to make sure you have the correct date and time in your metadata.

Curated by:

Dennis Dimick
National Geographic Executive Editor, Environment
Assignment Status
  • Open

    Everyone’s welcome to contribute their best shot to open assignments. Learn more.
  • 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 Aug 18, 2014.
Thank you for your contributions!

Sense of Place

Posted aug 9, 2014

Greetings photographers, thank you again for your enthusiasm and interesting contributions to the #wilderness assignment. As we move toward the final days of the project (the assignment closes at 12pm EDT on Monday, Aug 11),  I'll offer a few thoughts on kinds of images that appeal to me.

What I have been struck by are images that convey a sense of place, pictures that help the person looking at the picture feel grounded or having a sense they are somewhere. The picture conveys to a viewer that same sense of wonder that you see while being there with your camera, but they also have a specific and strong foreground and background, much like a stage with actors on it in a play. 

This is often a difficult concept to capture, and requires forethought when imagining what might make an interesting picture. The question is how to combine elements of the near and the far at the same time.

I am captivated most by images that combine that nearness with a sense of place. Pictures of wildlife and birds that place the subject in a habitat are more appealing than images that just show an animal. Those kinds of images of just animals and birds are quite common. Images that combine character, space, and place; that place these animals on a landscape, require you to determine in advance where to place yourself. One must think in terms of location, time of day, where the sun is in the sky, and the moment.

Good luck and best wishes. Thanks again to all of you for shooting new pictures specifically for this assignment.

Editing is Subjective

Posted jul 30, 2014

Greetings, everyone.

I have been reading the comments so far and am impressed with how active and passionate the Your Shot community is. I wanted to give you some understanding about how I have begun editing for this assignment. I’m not looking, as everyone else does, at the website to review the images. Given the number of pictures involved I’m given a folder full of images every two to three days that I then look at by building a catalog in Lightroom. I mark pictures I like and then go back to the website to find the images using a filename and number applied to each frame when a picture becomes part of the site.

While doing this, I’m looking for pictures that appeal to me.

I originally began editing by creating an EXIF metadata sort for the start dates. I found that many of the images had not been taken within the time frame of the assignment. I’m liking images that are outside of the date limit, but given that most of the pictures that I’ve seen don't conform to the rules, there would then be very few pictures for you to use as a guide to what I like. The favorites should not be seen as images that will be published. When it comes down to the final story, I will only choose photos taken within the date limit. However, I think it is my job as your editor to give you a sense of what I envisioned for this assignment. I am taking great care in my editing and can see from your comments that you are too.

In the end, everyone has their own view and aesthetic, and what I like may not be what you like. That's what makes taking and looking at pictures so much fun, right? We learn from each other.

So, that said, if you want pictures to be considered for the final edit, please make sure the date and time is set properly on your camera and that the pictures are shot during the time of the assignment.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing more of your shots!

Seek Out Nature

Posted jul 21, 2014

You don't need to travel to a designated wilderness area to do this. You can if you wish, but the premium for this assignment is on the wilderness—the wild nature—that surrounds you. I encourage you to look around, seek out nature in your daily life, and make pictures that capture the wilderness that abounds or thrives around you.

I live near Four Mile Run, a stream that runs through urban Arlington, Virginia, just a few miles from downtown Washington, D.C. I find solace and renewal in visiting this park almost every day, and many of my own personal pictures of natural landscapes come from this lovely, wild place in the middle of urbanity. I encourage you to seek out the nature that abounds in the world you inhabit. 

Please remember, NEW pictures only—pictures shot during the course of this assignment. Please caption pictures with sufficient information about place and time, but also with a sentence that helps explain why you see the situation pictured as fitting your idea of the wilderness in your world, your life.

Dennis Dimick

Dennis Dimick

National Geographic Executive Editor, Environment
Dennis Dimick is National Geographic's executive editor for the environment, and grew up hiking and fishing in the national forests of Oregon's Cascade Mountains. An avid hobby photographer, he has been a picture editor at the National Geographic Society since 1980.