For the first time in 2008, the state parks system was co-sponsor of the annual photo competition of Wildlife in North Carolina magazine.
In the competition's fourth year, 1,160 photographers submitted 6,368 images. Of those, 1,255 were captured in state parks.
Sam Hinson of Chadbourn won a Best in State Parks award for his striking image from Lake Waccamaw State Park. Shot from a kayak with a Canon 10D camera, it captured a sunlit cypress tree after a clearing storm.
We've always known that our state parks offer outstanding places for people to get in touch with the natural world through the camera lens. This gallery of some of the best examples of this year's work demonstrates that. We present these images as inspiration for your own explorations.
To view all the winners of this year's contest, go to www.ncwildlife.org. An exhibition of those images will be on display at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences through April.