Matt Payne Photography Blog: "F-Stop Collaborate And Listen" Podcast Landscape Photography Conservation Award Winner

January 22, 2020

I am really happy to announce the winner of our inaugural "F-Stop Collaborate and Listen" podcast Landscape Conservation Award!

The Award

The goal of this award was to recognize an individual photographer who is highly involved in conservation issues within their local communities or within the landscape and nature photography community. This could be through their writing, speaking, photography projects, or community organizing efforts. Additionally, we wanted to recognize an individual that actively practices the Nature First Principles. In partnership with our Patreon supporters, the “F-Stop Collaborate and Listen” podcast presents the prestigious honor, and a cash prize of $1,500.

We had six total nominees for the award. Thank you to the folks that stepped up and nominated a photographer for the award.

Our Nominees

We had some amazing nominees for the award, please spend some time looking at their work and learning about them:

Michael Gordon, Kayla Sulak, Phill Monson, Michael Remke, Erik Stensland, and J Henry Fair.

Our goal for the award is to recognize an individual photographer who is highly involved in conservation issues within their local communities or within the landscape and nature photography community. This could be through their writing, speaking, photography projects, or community organizing efforts. Additionally, one of the goals of this award was to recognize an individual that is actively practicing the Nature First Principles.

Our Award Criteria

We had four different domains by which each nominee was rated on a scale from one to ten. These four scores were totaled for each domain and then the average of every nominee's total score was calculated. Lastly, the average total score for each nominee was reached by dividing their total score by eight (which was the number of judges we had). 

In the end it was a very close contest with the total averages ranging from 29.1 to 35!

The Winner

Congratulations to J Henry Fair for winning the award! Here is what J Henry Fair had to say about his work:
"More than 20 years ago I decided that commercial photography was all about promoting consumption, which is the scourge of the planet, so I devoted myself to conservation causes. It started with local efforts to preserve open space from development, then progressed to international campaigns to persuade companies to change their behavior toward the environment. For a sideline project, I started a wolf center to promote education about wild spaces and foster reintroduction of wolves to the wild."

About the Winner

J Henry Fair uses pictures to tell stories about people and things that affect people. He is based in New York City and Berlin, but travels constantly. His recent book,Industrial Scars: The Hidden Costs of Consumption, published by Papadakis of London, is in to its second edition. His new book, the first of the “Coastline” series, On The Edge: From Combahee To Winyah, was published in spring 2019 and has received fantastic reviews.

Speaking about his “Industrial Scars” series, Roberta Smith, chief art critic of The New York Times said “The vivid color photographs of J Henry Fair lead an uneasy double life as potent records of environmental pollution and as ersatz evocations of abstract painting…information and form work together, to devastating effect.

Keep up the great work J Henry! Please enjoy a selection of J Henry Fair's work below.

I learned a lot through this process and will be sure to take the feedback from our amazing judges and incorporate it into our process next time.

The Judges

Thank you to our eight amazing judges, including:

J Henry Fair's Photography

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On Again, Off Again

Climax Mine, Colorado

The molybdenum ore-bearing rock is fractured by blasting to form horizontal “benches,” and hauled out of the pit up the ramp at lower right by giant trucks to a mill for processing into ore concentrate. Large, low-grade “porphyry” ore deposits like this are capped by layers of barren rock that is removed and disposed to reach mineable ore, resulting in deep open pits. The Climax Mine is the largest, richest molybdenum mine in the world. Molybdenum is used to make steel tougher and to raise its melting point and is used in weapons and jet aircraft engines as well as industrial lubricants. The Climax Mine has opened and shut in cycles based on price and demand, with major bursts of activity during World War I and World War II. At one time 75 percent of the world’s molybdenum came from this one mine, which most recently reopened in 2012.

Fertilizer, Heavy Metals, Uranium, Radium, Radioactivity, Yellow Cake, Sulphuric acid, Acid, Groundwater contamination, Chemicals, Pollution, Agriculture, Agricultural revolution, photo


Geismar, Louisiana, USA

Effluents from fertilizer production are pumped into this “gyp stack.” The solid gypsum is scooped out by excavators before it hardens and is spread on the “impoundment” to build it up and allow for higher capacity. This waste is gypsum, sulphuric acid and an assortment of heavy metals, including Uranium and Radium. When the price of uranium is high enough, this facility can produce large quantities for sale to the nuclear industry. Small radioactive particles (radionuclides) from the impoundments can become airborne as wind-blown dust that people and animals can breathe, and they can settle out onto ponds and agricultural areas. Many of these impoundments are not lined, allowing the toxic slurry to mix with groundwater, and heavy rainfall will cause it to overflow and mix with surface water.

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Texas City, Texas, USA

A bulldozer grades a stockpile of petroleum coke, or “petcoke,” a solid, more than ninety-percent carbon byproduct of the oil refining process that is used as a source of energy and high-grade industrial carbon. Fuel-grade petroleum coke, which is high in carbon dioxide and sulfur, is burned to produce energy used in making cement, lime and other industrial applications, as well as in cogeneration energy plants.

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Runaway Train

Burnside, Louisiana, USA

At aluminum oxide refineries, “red mud” bauxite waste is pumped into vast storage impoundments and allowed to settle. The waste impoundments require grading with heavy equipment to maintain proper drainage for dewatering. Once dry, dust is blown by the wind, carrying contaminants and covering everything nearby.

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Bauxite Waste From Aluminum Production

Burnside, Louisiana, USA

Residue from an aluminum oxide refinery pools, dries, and cracks. The red waste is iron oxide; the white waste is aluminum oxide and sodium bicarbonate. Tremendous amounts of caustic (pH 13) “red mud” bauxite waste is produced in aluminum refining, which also generates other contaminants and heavy metals.

Coal, Coal mining, Pollution, Mountaintop Removal, Global warming, Climate change, Mitigation, Cover-up, Hydro-seed, Habitat destruction, Water pollution, photo


around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia, USA

The forested mountains, valleys and streams that once stood here are now buried beneath the overburden from mountaintop removal coal mining. It is leveled and then sprayed with a mixture of grass seed and fertilizer. This satisfies the EPA regulations on mitigation.

Rockies, Steel, Stainless steel, photo

Market Scarcity

Climax Mine, Colorado

Water laden with sulfuric acid, iron and other metals collects on a waste tailings impoundment at the Climax Mine. At this mine, a slurry of “tailings,” finely-ground waste rock left over from milling the ore to extract the molybdenum is piped to large impoundments that fill several square miles of the valley north of the open pit. The Climax Mine, which is on the Eagle River drainage above the city of Denver, discharges water that exceeds Colorado State water limits for molybdenum.

Coal, Deforestation, Global warming, Climate change, Water pollution, Stream, Contamination, Coal mining, Acid Rain, Mountaintop Removal, Habitat destruction, Old growth forest, Mountaintop Removal Mi, photo

Mountain-Top Removal mining

around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia, USA

Coal must be washed with water and processed with a variety of chemicals before it is used. This creates tremendous volumes of “slurry” which are stored in impoundments created by building earthen dams across the edges of valleys. On numerous occasions impoundments have failed, releasing large quantities of the toxic mixture to devastate the valley below.

Thank you to our sponsors:

Ian and his amazing team at Shimoda have sent me the next generation of their camera backpack, the Action X series. I took it on my recent 11-day fall color photography trip and used it on a 16-mile backpacking overnight and did a review of this backpack. Let's just say I was super impressed with it! Shimoda has donated to the winner of the Landscape Conservation Award a camera bag of their choice, a core unit, and a roller and accessory case - a $779 value!

Viewbug is a popular photo sharing and contest website. Members of Viewbug can submit their photographs to specialized contests and win amazing prizes. There are a lot more benefits of membership as well, so check it out. Viewbug has donated a viewbug PRO+ membership to the winner of the award. This is a $179 value.

Reed Art & Imaging is a fine art print lab located in Denver, Colorado. They are my print lab of choice for my high-end acrylic prints. Reed employs a unique technology for their acrylic prints that no other print lab in the United States uses called Diasec. The results are stunning. I also believe that Reed has some of the best customer service in the business and I recommend them to everyone I talk to! Reed has donated to the winner of the Landscape Conversation Award a $500 credit towards the purchase of a Diasec Acrylic Print.

Tamron is a camera lens manufacturer and makes some of the world's best lenses for landscape and nature photography. Tamron has donated to the winner of the Landscape Conservation Award a 45mm f/1.8 Di VC lens- a $599 value!

QT Luong has donated a limited edition copy of his award winning photo book, "Treasured Lands." Treasured Lands is a book about all the 61 U.S. National Parks with location/photography notes for each photograph. This limited edition version is valued at $245.