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11th Annual Photo Contest for High Schoolers Announced by ‘Ding’ Darling

In 2023, Chase Qurollo from Cape Coral High won first place with “Nature’s Bandit. COURTESY PHOTO

The eleventh annual “Ding” Darling-Theodore Cross High School Photography Contest kicked off Oct. 1 with a deadline of Jan. 15, 2024. It invites highschool students in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades, and Hendry counties to compete for prizes that include a Canon digital SLR camera package, a one-year subscription to Adobe photography software, and an annual pass to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island.

The competition’s namesake, Ted Cross lived part-time on Sanibel Island, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; advised the Johnson and Nixon administrations on anti-poverty programs; wrote the influential book Black Capitalism, amongst other books; played a distinguished role in President Obama’s election; and created Birders United — a birding website that ranked legislators based on their record of bird protection support.

Late in life, Cross decided to indulge his love for birds and photography and traveled the world to gather stunning portraits and stories to chronicle his adventures. He shot often at “Ding” Darling, and numerous the pictures in his book Waterbirds reflect his love for the refuge. Cross published the photographic book in 2009 at age 85; he passed away shortly after that in February 2010, just two weeks after he made a presentation at “Ding” Darling as a part of its annual lecture series.

“We’re so completely satisfied to be supporting a contest in my father’s name, a contest that may get our youth involved with nature by it — as my father so loved doing — through a camera lens,” said daughter Amanda Cross.

Digital image entries might be shot from any outdoor venue within the state of Florida. A writing component to the competition requires entrants, grades 9 through 12, to submit a 100-word description of the “moment” captured and the way it reflects what nature and wildlife mean to the photographer.

Entry rules and guidelines are listed below. Guidelines and prize information are also posted at articles/photo-contests. Call DDWS at 239-292-0566 for more information.

All entries and private information have to be submitted in digital format to the e-mail address Submit your full name, highschool, grade, and an original photograph that you just took of nature and/or wildlife within the open outdoors. Include a title for the photograph and a written description (minimum 100 words) of the “moment” captured and the way it reflects what nature and wildlife mean to you. You and your entry must comply with the next requirements:

Students attending high schools in Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte (Florida) counties in grades 9 through 12 may enter the competition.

Only digital images are accepted and should be taken with any camera, including smartphones.

Images have to be submitted in JPEG/ JPG format and will need to have a size of at the very least 2000 x 1500 pixels or resolution of two megabytes.

The photograph have to be taken of nature and/or wildlife within the open outdoors within the state of Florida, which can include parks, refuges, backyards, and other open spaces.

Panoramic photos usually are not allowed.

Filters, cropping, enhancements, and borders are permitted. Nevertheless, adding any elements not existing in the unique scene won’t be allowed. Judges, at their discretion, will disqualify any photos that seem like manipulated beyond these guidelines.

Each participant may enter as much as two photos but is eligible to win just one award.

Judging can be anonymous. Please don’t put your name or anything that may discover you in your photograph.

There are three judges: A refuge staff person, knowledgeable photographer, and a resident of the five-county region.

Judging criteria:
• Technical excellence (sharpness, lighting, composition, exposure)
• Creativity
• Explanation of photograph (minimum of 100 words)

All photos will develop into the property of DDWS. Photos could also be utilized by the society in any way with appropriate credit. ¦


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