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‘Ding’ Darling Amateur Nature Photography Contest under way

By Staff | Jul 29, 2015

Charles Woodrich of Glen Allen, Wash., won the 2014 “Ding” Darling Photography Contest with his captured shot of a Prothonotary Warbler. PHOTO PROVIDED

Ready, setsnap!

The “Ding” Darling Days Amateur Nature Photography Contest has bolted out of the starting gates, with the checkered flag being waved Sept. 15, the last day in which submissions will be had.

Visitors of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge are encouraged to submit their best photos for the contest, which has been going consistently since 2005.

The contest, sponsored by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS), is held in conjunction with “Ding” Darling Days, Oct. 18-24, (www.dingdarlingdays.com).

“The contest has been getting more popular the last few years, with 116 entries last year ranging from four to five different countries,” said “Ding” Associate Director Sarah Lathrop. “It’s open for all ages, with our youngest entry coming from a 12-year-old.”

?The 2013 “Ding” Darling Photography Contest was won by Michael Dougherty of Clarkston, Mich., by snapping a picture of this heron. PHOTO PROVIDED

For an entry form and other contest information, visit www.dingdarlingsociety.org/photo-contests. Or contact DDWS at or 239-472-1100, ext. 233.

DDWS will announce winners and award prizes at Conservation Art Day on Saturday, Oct. 24, during “Ding” Darling Days.

Entries may be delivered in person to J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR or by mail to “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society (DDWS), One Wildlife Dr., Sanibel, FL 33957 (Attention: Sarah Lathrop).

There is a wide range of cameras and lens used in the contest, while the subject material also has a big variety.

“We get pictures of all kinds of stuff, it’s been fun how creative people can get,” Lathrop said. “We get many close-up photos of plants, flowers and insects, which is a popular one. A couple of years ago, fighting ants were an honorable mentioned. But pictures of wildlife are the most popular.”

Frank Gumpert won the 2012 “Ding” Darling Photography Contest with his close-up photo of a wasp working in his honeycomb shelter. PHOTO PROVIDED

Contest rules include:

  • There is a $25 per person entry fee that provides you with a membership to the Society and is used to defray the cost of the contest. One fee covers two entries per person.
  • Only amateur (all ages) photographers are eligible to enter (may not possess a professional photographer tax identification number for the sale of photographs).
  • Photos must be taken at J.N. “Ding” Darling NWR and have been taken within two years of entry date.
  • Photos must be 8″ x 10″ (or full frame 8″ x 12″) with an 11″ x 14″ mat. This will facilitate display in the Visitor Center. (Please, no hangers on the backs of photographs.) Frames are not permitted. Please submit a digital copy on a CD/DVD/Flash Drive. Each photo must be at least 2MB. The two photo entries can be copied onto the same CD/DVD/Flash Drive.
  • Each person may enter up to two photos, but is eligible to win only one award. One $25 fee covers two entries per person.
  • Photos that have won awards in previous “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society photo contests may not be resubmitted.
  • Judging will be anonymous. Please do not put your name or anything that will identify you on your photograph.

Judging criteria includes:

1) Technical excellence (sharpness, lighting, composition, exposure)

2) Originality/creativity

3) Interest

4) Ability to be reproduced for publication

  • On digital photos, only limited image modifications are permitted. Minor manipulation should be used only to produce a more natural looking photograph.

Cropping is allowed but adding any elements not existing in the original scene will not be allowed. Judges, at their discretion, will disqualify any photos that appear to be manipulated beyond these guidelines.

  • All photos will become the property of DDWS and will not be returned. There is no need to include a return envelope or postage. Photos may be used by DDWS in any way with appropriate credit.
  • First, second, and third place winners and honorable mentions will be formally announced during the “Ding” Darling Day’s weeklong celebration held in October. Cash prizes will be awarded.
  • The refuge and Wildlife Society cannot be held responsible for loss or damage of photos.
  • There are three judges: A refuge staff person, a professional photographer and a member of the Sanibel community.

“What’s cool for the winners and honorable mentions, is that their photos will be displayed in the “Ding” Educational Center all year, leading up to the next “Ding” Darling Days,” Lathrop said. “People have really enjoyed the contest.”

The “Ding” Darling wildlife drive opens at 7 a.m. For more information on the refuge and what it offers, visit their website at www.dingdarlingsociety.org.