Don’t have enough money for the expensive gear that is used to make shots ok for a contest like this, nor to travel to locations, as you can see most of shots are something about whales, monkeys or something else you just will never see in a regular life.
Really, there were some terrific entries above. Edit: do spend time with this long thread, if you can. There are many, many exquisite photos not chosen as finalists. I cannot imagine having to choose just 20 from this field of amazing captures.
Yes, I found the photo really haunting but also a little hopeful? It reminded me of the thing that happens here to empty buildings because everything grows fast, and that is although buildings are built of stone or mamposteria, the sun bleaches the color from the exterior paint and if allowed, plants will begin to grow in any small crack they can find and the building will be taken back by nature. All manner of creatures will move in and through. (None quite as large as polar bears though.)
Well, observations like this can also be done on european soil (e.g. with Colletes bees which are present in Russia as well btw)! So it´s not as excotic as you might think… it´s more a matter of looking the right way.
From the 100 winner pics in the gallery I counted over 30 that could have been done with the exact same or similiar species on european soil.
I think it is a great misconception that the “fun” is always anywhere else. That´s just not true. Great nature pics can be created anywhere, it´s just a matter of finding the right niche (and of course right equipemtn, creativity and a great proportion of luck). I hope iNat helps it´s participants in realizing that.
I spent years collecting professional photos for my project, looking through hundreds of thousands of them, it’s not as easy, at least to make it the way it doesn’t look like another general “good pic”, but a real masterpiece which are very rare, even in those competitions.
What about that one taken by a kid of a spider between the walls of his trailer home? Proof that at least some hope remains for the modestly equipped observers.
I don’t strictly follow these contests but it seems to me that over many years there has been a noticeable increase in the diversity of taxon represented in the winners’ circle. I remember when it all seemed mammals, birds and giant trees.
I expect that as the quality and popularity of macro shooting continues to improve at the phone level, the sheer mathematical probability of more invertebrate subject winners will increase too.