A COFA academic has won a leading national photography prize.

Lynne Roberts-Goodwin has taken out the $10,000 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award for nineWONDERS-lunacrater #4.

The photograph is part of a series that was shot in 2009 in nine locations around the world - from Australia and Indonesia to Syria and Egypt.

"What these photographs have in common is that there are no people in them and no culture is revealed," said Ms Roberts-Goodwin, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Media Arts.

Each of the photographs was taken on the full moon in deserts and volcanic crater sites.

"This one was taken in a crater in south-western NSW," she said. "It was difficult to get anything spectacular. I was lying on the ground with a panoramic camera to get long exposures."

Judy Annear, the curator of photography at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, was the judge of the competition and described the work as "highly ambiguous and compelling".

"Roberts-Goodwin has a long and exemplary track record as a photographic artist ... She has always pushed the envelope with her work, examining the human relationship to the environment," she said.

"The graininess is due to being shot at night under a full moon and yet the landscape could be on the moon itself, or on a beach, or a desert or, as it actually is... What we see and how we experience and understand this is an important part of the work," said Ms Annear.

"It's wonderful," said Ms Roberts-Goodwin of the unexpected win. "It's a very prestigious award and there have been some great artists who have won it."

The competition was held at the Gold Coast City Art Gallery.

For more about Lynne Roberts-Goodwin, go to her website.

Media contact: Susi Hamilton| UNSW media | 9385 1583 |