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Steve Nowakowski of Lambertville was peddling his bike back to his campsite at Fort Custer State Park in Battle Creek, disappointed that his sunrise photo shoot didn’t pan out.

Then he passed the boat launch, and a second opportunity presented itself.

“I saw these two fisherman launching their boat. At first I rode past the launch,” he said, “and then turned around and went back, wondering if there could be a possible picture in the fog over the lake.”

His hunch was right. His photo “Foggy Sunrise on Eagle Lake” is one of four photos moving on this week to the finals of the first of three Detroit News Celebrate Michigan Photo Contests this summer.

The first contest, Outdoor Adventures, is open for entries until noon June 30 for all non-professional photographers who are 18 years or older. Submit your photos at of activities, scenery or events that show Michigan as a great place to be outdoors.

Four finalists will be selected by Detroit News judges each week and announced on Wednesdays. After the last of the 16 finalists are named, they move on to Round 2, where the winner will be determined by public voting July 5-9.

The winner’s grand prize for each of the contests is a $500 Visa card.

Other finalists named this week are:

■ “Aurora Hunters,” by Dale Niesen of South Rockwood. Using the lighting from two LED flashlights, Niesen positioned his camera for a remarkable photo of himself and friend Steve Lambert viewing the aurora borealis, near Empire Bluffs in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A 15-second exposure and wide angle lens helped to create the effect.

■ “MX Master,” by Pat Eisenberger of Warren. Motocross racers in Michigan’s Irish Hills provided an exciting day of shooting. “There were a few of them who seemed to be skilled beyond belief,” she said. “This one I named ‘The Master’ for his amazing speed and cunning!”

■ “Sun + Water = Fun,” by Steven Korn of Southfield. “Two impish cousins, Monte and Tine, playing in the water of Hart Plaza, caught my eye and I captured their spontaneity and innocence,” Korn said. “Give a kid an inch and he’ll show you how to enjoy life.”

When Outdoors Adventures ends, the next contest, Woods & Wildlife, begins. Photos will be accepted from June 30 to July 28 of animals and forests, including pets, farm animals and zoo scenes.

The third contest is Favorite Places, for photos of anywhere that’s special to you, indoors or outdoors. Submit your photos to Favorite Places from July 28 to Aug. 25.

At the end of the contests on Sept. 6, three Editors’ Pick bonus prizes of $150 cash cards will be awarded for three photos chosen from the pool of finalists by The Detroit News staff.

For the complete contest rules, go to, where you can find all of the weekly stories and the photo gallery of finalists that will grow all season long.

On the contest submissions page, in addition to uploading your photos, you can view all of the entries, share them on social media, and when Round 2 begins, vote for your favorite.

Don’t delay, you have only until the end of June.

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