GAMBIER — The winners of the 21st Annual Knox County Nature Photography Contest captured with their lenses some of the most breathtaking still images of the natural world in the local area. They included a trio of baby foxes to a bird known as a roseate spoonbill visiting Knox Lake, to a sturdy-looking caterpillar making its way somewhere on a summer’s day.
The winners of the Nature Photography Contest, offered by Kenyon College through its Brown Family Environmental Center were judged in two different divisions — People’s Choice awards, and Judge’s Choice awards. Winners came in three different categories: Children (through age 16), adult and college-age student. Their photos, judged before and during BFEC’s Harvest Festival held Oct. 20, will continue to be displayed at BFEC through Friday. Three judges made their selections before the festival, while festival visitors were able to cast their People’s Choice votes during the festival. Jill Kerkhoff, a BFEC representative, tabulated results with help from a Kenyon student. The top prize in each age category for the cash-giving Judge’s Choice awards was $50 for first place.
As for the Judge’s Choice Division, the judges were specifically looking for a few things to show true photographic skills at work, BFEC Manager Noelle Jordan said Friday. One was to reward photos that were difficult to capture. And second, photos needed to have breathtaking composition, including their framing and lighting. All photos were required to be taken in Knox County.
Several of the most striking photos were taken by part-time professional photographer Brad Imhoff of Granville, who has conducted photography workshops this past spring and summer at BFEC. For the first time, Imhoff received the prized adult’s category first-place award in the Jury’s Choice Division, for taking a photo of a large bird from the southern United States known as a roseate spoonbill. The bird is rare this far north and Imhoff took the photo while kayaking on Knox Lake.
But for the sake of personal satisfaction and pride in a photo well taken, Imhoff said he was equally proud of taking the People’s Choice first-place award for a photo showing a trio of baby (known as “kit”) red foxes. He set up his photographic blind this past April and took the photo when the kits were perhaps just two weeks old, at about 9 a.m. in the morning. Their mother may have been out hunting at the time.
“They just popped up, about 15 yards from my trailer,” he said, adding that he photographed the baby foxes several more times through May, a total of about 12 hours of photography. The stills are viewable on his website. Imhoff, a professor of mental health counseling who teaches online for Liberty University, also received the second place award in the Jury’s Choice Division, and third place in People’s Choice, for a hard-to-capture photo of a small bird known as a golden-crowned kinglet. It was staring straight back at him from its perch on a twig.
The Jury’s Choice Award winners in all age groups were:
Adult Division: 1. Brad Imhoff; 2. Brad Imhoff; 3. Diana Sull; and Honorable Mention, Chad Kettlewell.
Children Division: 1. Layke Burke; 2. Carter Davis; 3. Carter Davis; and Honorable Mention, Anna Blubaugh.
Student Division: 1. Franny Wiggins (Kenyon); 2. Kayley Wiles (MVNU); and 3. Emma Banks (Kenyon).