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Nature of photography

By Staff | Jan 7, 2020

The deadline for high school students to enter the seventh annual “Ding” Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest is fast approaching.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society Development Officer Sierra Hoisington said Theodore Cross was a well-known photographer who spent a great deal of time at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge taking pictures of different bird species, especially egrets and the rosette spoonbills. When Cross passed away his family wanted his legacy to continue, which resulted in the annual photography contest.

“We wanted to reach out to the youth around the area and show them that they can be interested in nature through photography,” Hoisington said. “This photo contest is opened to any high schoolers in the five surrounding county area (Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry).”

The photo contest, which is free to enter, requires the high school student to submit two photos, which can be taken with a camera or smart phone, anywhere in Florida in nature. The photos can be taken in parks, refuges, backyards and other open outdoor spaces. Panoramic photos are not allowed, but filters, cropping, enhancements and borders are permitted.

In addition the individual must also submit their full name, high school, grade and a title for the photograph with a written description, 100 word minimum, of the moment captured and reflection of what it meant to the student. The participant’s name should not be placed on the photographs.

“The whole ideas is to get kids interested in this activity,” she said of photographing nature and being outdoors.

The deadline to submit photographs is Jan. 15. They can be sent to the DDWS at ddhsphotocontest@gmail.com.

“Last year we had a little over 100 entries. It’s usually around that number every single year,” Hoisington said. “It’s a great contest to get involved with. It costs nothing for these high schoolers to get involved.”

She said the contest helps them reach out to the next generation of conservation stewards while encouraging them to enjoy nature, and becoming creative in capturing their subject.

The judging will be based on: technical excellence (sharpness, lighting, composition and exposure of the photograph), as well as its creativity and explanation of their photograph.

The first place winner will receive a top-of-the-line camera with case and accessories; Tarpon Bay Explorers excursion for winner and family; chartered class trip to the “Ding” Darling refuge with private tour and photography workshop; “Ding” Darling gift bag and Nature Store gift certificate and a copy of “Waterbirds,” written by Cross.

The second place winner will receive a chartered class trip to the refuge with private tour and photography workshop; “Ding” Darling gift bag and Nature store gift certificate and a copy of “Waterbirds.”

The third place winner will receive a “Ding” Darling gift bag and Nature Store gift certificate and a copy of “Waterbirds.”

The honorable mentions will receive a Nature Store gift certificate.

Cross was a part-time resident of Sanibel who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; advised the Johnson and Nixon administrations on anti-poverty programs; wrote numerous books, which included “Black Capitalism,” played a prominent role in President Barack Obama’s election and created Birders United – a birding Website that ranked legislators according to their record of bird protection support.

For more information, contact the DDWS at 239-472-1100, extension 4.