75th Anniversary Photo Contest

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Published on: Sep. 17, 2012

Seven photos were selected out of 13,000 in this contest to celebrate Missourians’ love of nature and their ongoing role in supporting conservation.

Passing judgment is hard. That was the consensus of the three judges who sifted through nearly 13,000 images to select the best in each of the seven categories of the 75th Anniversary of Conservation Photo Contest.

“The entries were both impressive in quality and the number of entries was pretty amazing,” said contest judge James Fashing. “Missouri is blessed with many excellent photographers, beautiful wildlife and wild places.”

Entrants submitted photos in seven categories: Birds, insects and spiders, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, plants and fungi, habitats and landscapes, and outdoor recreation activities. A panel of three judges then selected their favorite image from each category. Those seven images were then posted on the MDC website for the public to vote for the “Best of Show.”

“In the end, this contest was not really about awarding great photos,” said MDC Art Director and contest judge Cliff White. “Rather, it was about engaging people in the outdoors and conservation. If these photos help inspire folks to get outside, then we have succeeded.”

Those seven selected images now appear on these pages, and all of the entries can be seen at flickr.com/groups/mdc75thanniversary.

Best of Show/Best of Habitats and Landscapes - Howell Island Conservation Area in St. Charles County, by Ryan Campbell of Webster Groves

Campbell called this photo a “happy accident.” He had planned to go out to Howell Island with a friend to get shots of the Missouri River. “We were disappointed when we discovered that high water was blocking the access to the island,” said Campbell. “Determined to make something work, we started shooting in an area of driftwood along the eastern back of Centaur Chute, which separates the island from the mainland. As the sun headed closer to the horizon, the sky exploded with all of the color you see in the photo.” Campbell said he started seriously pursuing photography as a hobby about seven years ago.

James Fashing: “The composition of this image was striking. The subtle palate of colors worked well to make one beautiful scenic image. The sky really made this shot.”

Jason Jenkins: “The Missouri River flows for more than 540 miles across the Show-Me State, but it’s often overlooked as a subject by photographers. This image did a terrific job of illustrating the beauty that can be found on the river. The driftwood provided an interesting, textured foreground that leads your eye to the sky with its unusual clouds and reflection on the water.”

Cliff White: “The dramatic colors and textures are really what caught my eye with this image. Using a wide-angle lens to emphasize the textures and details of the driftwood in the foreground, while still capturing the wonderful colors of the sky, was an excellent technical and compositional choice.”

Best of Insects and Spiders - Tachinid fly by Mark Cillo of St. Louis

Cillo photographed this fly while walking the trails at Forest Park in St. Louis. “I found this little fly resting on a blade of grass and was able to get my camera and tripod set up fairly close,” said Cillo. “When shooting macro photography, I usually walk around gardens or fields when the light is good and there is little or no wind, and I look for little critters that might make good subjects.” Cillo is a wedding photographer by trade, and enjoys outdoor and nature photography as a hobby.

Jason Jenkins: “Have you ever looked this closely at a fly? I hadn’t until I saw this image, and I was blown away by the colors and textures. Great use of shallow depth of field to separate the subject from the background. The stem on which the fly rests provides a nice leading line for the eye to follow, and the offset subject takes advantage of the rule of thirds. I may think twice now before grabbing the flyswatter.”

Best of Outdoor Recreation Activities - Fisherman on Lake Taneycomo by Lee Ann Castile of St. Louis County

Castile took this picture while on vacation in the Branson area. “I woke early to take pictures of the sunrise on Lake Taneycomo,” said Castile. “The geese were traveling upstream in groups and men were fishing near an old shack. I spent several hours taking pictures of the surroundings. I was inspired by the golden tones on the water from the morning sun and the mist rising off the lake.” Castile said she is constantly searching for new places to take photos. “I love photographing birds at the Audobon Center at Riverlands, the riverfront area at Clarksville or any lake, river or pond.”

Jason Jenkins: “There were quite a few silhouetted scenes entered, but this was the best of them. Perfect use of the fog and great composition, and it’s clear that the person is fishing. To me, this image has an implied theme of coexistence between people and nature, and that’s what conservation is all about.”

Best of Reptiles and Amphibians - Prairie lizard by Mark Beckemeyer of Steedman

“This picture was taken shortly after the noon hour as the prairie lizard was descending a tree near the frog pond in our backyard,” said Beckemeyer. “It took many tries to get close enough and acquire the desired effect. The studio-like quality was achieved by shooting the lizard on a shaded James Fashing : “The simple background really makes the lizard and its markings stand out in this shot. The focus on the eye was tack sharp. Shooting at eye level or lower often has more striking results than standing above your subject.”

Best of Birds - Short-eared owl by Jason G. Harrison of Troy

Harrison photographed this owl in Clinton County. “A dear friend and fellow photographer lives near this farm and told me about the owls,” said Harrison. Harrison said he drove four hours through the tail end of a major snowstorm to arrive late afternoon. “The storm had just passed and the sun had come out,” said Harrison. “The owls were already actively hunting and I came upon a large group of them.” Harrison said he continued photographing the owls over the next several days. “Some snow drifts I walked through were over waist deep, which made for a very difficult hike to where the owls were located. It paid off, though, as I was able to photograph several different owls. Those days are memories I will never forget, and may never experience again.”

Cliff White: “It was very difficult to pick the single best image in all of the categories, but the birds category was perhaps the toughest. The judges spent a lot of time discussing this category, but we kept coming back to this owl picture. The light is fantastic, the composition is very well done, and it’s just a cool subject.”

Best of Plants and Fungi - Dogwood blossom by Bob Korpella of Aurora

Korpella took this picture while hiking on private land in Barry County. “The dogwoods were almost spent, but the ones still in bloom had huge blossoms. I was intrigued by the center. It looked like a party was going on in there, so I decided to focus my attention on that portion of the blossom” said Korpella. A Missouri Master Naturalist and Stream Team member, Korpella said one of his favorite activities is heading outside with his camera. He said he photographs in a variety of locations in both Missouri and Arkansas. “But,” he said, “it’s amazing what you can discover in your own backyard.”

Cliff White: “In a category that had so many wonderful images of beautiful flowers, the ones that stood out were those that approached the subject matter in a new and unexpected way. I love macro photography, because it takes small details and makes them larger than life. This image expertly blends this larger-than-life quality, with great composition, color and delicate textures.”

Best of Mammals - Black bear by Matt Miles of Webster County

Miles photographed this “Ozark Bruin” in Webster County. “This spring, I quietly walked in predawn darkness to a forested ridge where I had successfully photographed gobblers a couple of days earlier. During this morning, no turkeys responded to my calls, but, to my amazement, this magnificent bear slowly made his way in my direction.” Miles said that while much of his photography is taken on his rural property, he has a job that requires him to travel around the state, giving him ample opportunity to pursue photography in a variety of locations.

James Fashing: “There were many great mammal entries, and many of them look like portraits, where the animals are looking directly at the photographer. This action shot was unique. The photographer reacted quickly with perfect focus control in low light.”

The Judges

James Fashing is the New Media Editor for the farm cooperative, MFA Incorporated. Prior to that, Fashing worked for 18 years as a photojournalist for MFA’s member magazine, Today’s Farmer where he won numerous industry awards in photography. He has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jason Jenkins has been a photojournalist for more than a decade. He is currently the managing editor of Rural Missouri, a monthly publication published by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Jenkins was named “Photographer of the Year” twice by the Cooperative Communicators Association.

Cliff White has worked for the Missouri Department of Conservation for 16 years. For 10 of those years he was a staff photographer. He currently is the art director and supervises the photography team at the Department. White has a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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