People taking photographs near creek

2023 Photo Contest Winners

Purisima Creek Redwoods (Katrina Zerga)

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here, the winners of Midpen’s 13th Annual Photo Contest try to capture in just a few brief sentences the meaningful encounters in nature that made them stop in awe and reach for a camera. This year, Midpen received over 300 stunning submissions. These were narrowed down to four finalists in each category, and the winners were chosen by the public through Midpen’s social media accounts.

Wildlife Winner

Blue Damselfly in Monte Bello
Damselfly by Mark Gerow of Menlo Park (Monte Bello Open Space Preserve)

“I went to Monte Bello Preserve hoping to photograph red-winged blackbirds at the little pond there. They were too quick and smart for me, so I stopped and took a moment to see what else was happening around me. That’s when I spotted a lovely blue damselfly on a branch near the water’s edge. Nature is my sacred place, and taking pictures like this makes me feel more connected to it, even when I can’t be there in person.” — Mark Gerow

People in Nature Winner

Child on trail Russian Ridge
Up Up and Away by Erica Namba (Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve)

“We watched the marine layer rise up and turn bright orange on one of Midori’s first hikes on the ridge. I think she was hoping the marine layer would continue to rise up! I’m happy to watch the fog roll in and share these moments with Midori as no two sunsets are exactly the same.” — Erica Namba


Aspiring Photographer Winner

Lizard in Fremont Older
Lizard by Owen Zimbauer (Fremont Older Open Space Preserve)

“I stopped to capture this image because I saw the cool lizard just chilling there. I walked up to it, and it didn’t run away, so I figured I would take a picture of it.” — Owen Zimbauer

Plant Life Winner

Oak Tree Limbs in Russian Ridge
Ancient Oaks by Jordan Gans (Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve)

“While hiking, I was drawn to these oak trees growing on the hillside that looks out towards the ocean. This unique perspective gave me the impression of being high up in the trees. l also felt that the orange light of the sunset coupled with the dark mosscovered trees fully encapsulated the dynamic and often contrasted nature of the forested hills.” — Jordan Gans

Trail Less Traveled Winner

Oak tree at sunrise
Sunrise by Alex Song (Pulgas Ridge Open Space Preserve)

“During a hike in Pulgas Ridge Preserve, I spotted this oak tree sitting on the top of the hill and realized that it is a great spot to photograph the sunrise. On a winter morning when I foresaw a good sunrise, I arrived at the preserve entrance half an hour before sunrise when the parking area was just opened. I rushed up the hill and snapped this shot. It was truly a beautiful moment." — Alex Song

Landscape Winner

Textured marine layer sunset
Textured Marine Layer Sunset by Leor Pantilat (Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve)

“The captivating, wavy marine layer with North Ridge peeking out from the clouds, combined with sunbeams passing through the Douglas firs made this a magical moment. I’m grateful these incredible lands are preserved and available for public enjoyment.” — Leor Pantilat

Sign up for our newsletter to find out what’s happening in your open space!