The eighth annual award winners for the Nature of Orange Photography Contest were announced at the Orange County Board of County Commissioners meeting Sept. 3. Since that time, the News of Orange spoke with some of the award winners about being recognized by Orange County.
Altogether, there were 65 entries for the contest, with 27 youth participants and 38 adults, for the contest which ran through May 2019.
According to the Nature of Orange Photography Contest guidelines, contestants were judged based on the relevancy of their photos, the composition and arrangement, the focus and sharpness and the lighting and creativity.
The youth award winners were led by a first-place finish from Alexcina Wartski for her picture of a tree frog hanging on to blades of grass titled, “Just Hanging.” Wartski’s award was followed by a second-place finish from Maggie Sandbeck titled, “Yellow on Yellow.” Haley Wade followed with a third-place finish in the youth category with her picture titled, “Sunny.” Ryan Kroothoep and Sandbeck both received honorable mentions.
Wartski said she wanted to capture the liveliness of the frog in her picture and how it was able to interact with her.
“My inspiration for this photo was showing the personality of the frog,” Wartski explained in an email. “When I first saw the frog it hopped on my hand and onto the leaf. It shows how animals can be very calm around humans if humans treat them with respect.”
Wartski, who is enrolled at Salem College while pursuing a degree in Communications, was thrilled when she found out she won first place for the youth section and she hopes to keep “being successful” in photography.
Wade, who took home third place in the youth contest, had never entered a photography contest before, and felt she accomplished a lot in being recognized by Orange County. Wade was going on a walk with her brother the day she took the picture that got her a third-place finish. It was during the walk that her brother stopped her to show her something.
“My brother pointed the flower out and said it looked like the sun and I agreed so i picked it, held it up to the sky and got a pretty good picture of it,” Wade said. “So I guess my brother was my inspiration.”
Meanwhile, Bob Johnson took home first place for adults with his artwork titled, “Occaneechi Village Snow.” Charles R Sheppard finished second with his work, “Snow Covered Eno,” and Joel Elliott took home third place for “Boat Launch at Dawn.” Johnson and Elliott each brought home honorable mentions, as well.
Elliott says his picture was taken at Cane Creek Reservoir in Hillsborough, a place where he spends a lot of his time during the spring and summer.
“I fish at Cane Creek from about March to October, just about every Saturday, sometimes Friday and Saturday,” Elliott said. “So you get to know the place really well.”
Elliott said the morning the picture was taken he noticed the landscape looked a bit different with the mist hanging off the water, calling it a scene “that you don’t see every day.”
When he submitted his picture for the Orange County contest, he said he just thought to himself, “Why not?” with no expectation of getting any recognition.
But now, in addition to the picture hanging in the office at the Cane Creek Reservoir, it will find its way to the Orange County Library with the other award-winning pieces of art.