News 19’s Ben Smith among Winners for 2023 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) has announced the winners of its 2024 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest, and the list includes a familiar name.

News 19’s very own Ben Smith is among the winners chosen from across Alabama. Photos from all over the Tennessee Valley, from Decatur to Madison to DeKalb County, were also named winners.

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The contest highlights recreation at Alabama’s 21 state parks and spans 9 categories.

ADCNR said this year they received nearly 2,000 photos during the contest which they then narrowed down to four images for each category. Department Commissioner Christ Blankenship congratulated the winners.

“The diversity of Alabama’s landscapes, native plants, wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities make it a photographer’s paradise,” he said. “From the mountains in north Alabama to the state’s Gulf Coast, the winning images in this year’s Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest highlight the natural beauty of our state. Congrats to all of the winners!”

You can find all of the winning photos here.

The winners and categories are listed below:

Alabama State Parks

  • 1st Place – John Denney III, Pulpit Rock at Cheaha State Park

  • 2nd Place – Brad Lackey, Desoto Falls at Desoto State Park

  • 3rd Place – Tamara Neal, Peavine Falls at Oak Mountain State Park

  • Honorable Mention – Tony Triolo, South Sauty Creek at Buck’s Pocket State Park

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  • 1st Place – Christopher Baker, Great Blue Heron in Madison

  • 2nd Place – Richard Curtin, Eastern Wild Turkey in McClellan

  • 3rd Place – Debra Lucas, Great Egret in Maplesville

  • Honorable Mention – Jim Flynn, Red-bellied Woodpecker in Albertville


  • 1st Place – Brad Lackey, White-tailed Fawn in Guntersville

  • 2nd Place – Chris Jessee, Black Bear Cub in Saraland

  • 3rd Place – Cristal Fowler, Red Fox in Auburn

  • Honorable Mention – Michelle White, Eastern Gray Squirrel in Northport

Cold-Blooded Critters

  • 1st Place – Christopher Baker, Tree Frog in Madison

  • 2nd Place – Timothy Huber, American Alligator at Meaher State Park

  • 3rd Place – Arthur Davis, Green Tree Frog in Bay Minette

  • Honorable Mention – Matt Dees, Timber Rattlesnake at the Mobile County Environmental Studies Center

Bugs and Butterflies

  • 1st Place – Karen Chiasson, Imperial Moth Caterpillar at Blakeley Historic State Park

  • 2nd Place – Christopher Baker, Bee in Huntsville

  • 3rd Place – Peter Marting, Robber Fly Eating a Bee in Auburn

  • Honorable Mention – Jim Flynn, Swallowtail on a Zinnia Bloom in Albertville

Sweet Home Alabama

  • 1st Place – Cole Smith, U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville

  • 2nd Place – Drew Senter, Cotton Field in Calhoun County

  • 3rd Place – Gwen Ainsworth, Sand Island Lighthouse

  • Honorable Mention – Lisa Floyd, Mardi Gras Parade in Fairhope

Nature-Based Recreation

  • 1st Place – Christopher Baker, Winter Fishing in Madison

  • 2nd Place – Brent Eanes, Dauphin Island Surf Fishing at Sunset

  • 3rd Place – Benjamin Smith, Water Skiing in Tuscaloosa

  • Honorable Mention – Katie Gwinn, Biking at Oak Mountain State Park

Shoots and Roots

  • 1st Place – Gene Tilley, Forked Bluecurls in Ethelsville

  • 2nd Place – Denetiza Jones, Southern Magnolia in Cordova

  • 3rd Place – Karen Chiasson, Orange-fringed Orchid at Splinter Hill Bog in Baldwin County

  • Honorable Mention – Gene Tilley, Hazel Alder in Ethelsville


  • 1st Place – Christopher Baker, Mardis Mill Falls in Blountsville

  • 2nd Place – John Denney III, Train Trestle Over Lake Martin

  • 3rd Place – Brent Eanes, Bayou La Batre Shrimping Fleet

  • Honorable Mention – Arthur Davis, Splinter Hill Pitcher Plant Bog in Baldwin County

Young Photographers

  • 1st Place – Emerson Barnett (age 14), Crab in the Fowl River at Theodore

  • 2nd Place – Hayden Graham (age 14), Roland Cooper State Park

  • 3rd Place – Urvi Mysore (age 16), Noccalula Falls in Gadsden

  • Honorable Mention – Linley Higginbotham (age 10), Flower in Decatur

Each winner will receive a prize and be featured in a traveling exhibit throughout the year. ADCNR said when the schedule for that exhibit is finalized it will be available here.

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