Huntley Meadows Park is a vast expanse of wetlands in the middle of Mount Vernon so there's many opportunities for the amateur and professional photographer to capture that scene to exemplify this 1,452 acre park in Fairfax County. Throughout the month of November, the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park invited those photographers to show off their work in the “2021 Friends of Huntley Meadows Park Photo Contest,” and the response was positive. This year they received 79 entries from 31 photographers. Most photographers enter in the “adult” category, but there were three youth entrants – including one in elementary school. The top photos went on display Dec. 12 at the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center at Huntley Meadows Park. The five photo categories included birds, flora, insects, landscapes, mammals and reptiles-amphibians.
Of the top three photos, first place went to James Fatemi, 14, and the toad he called "King of his domain." This picture was first place overall and first place for the high school entry. Second place was the "Summer Moon Silhouette," bird by Luis Fernando Pinzon, and third place went to Tibor Molnar, who caught a praying mantis sunning himself in a picture he called "Is this my good side?"
The photography contest was judged by Chris Dyer, Laura Marshall, and Tyler Reber. Dyer has a background in art history, Marshall is a photographer (both have been judges previously), and Reber is a photographer and the immediate past winner of the contest. They judged the contest on impact, technique, composition, lighting, subject/center of interest, originality/creativity, and story/mood.
"What really makes the winning photos stand out year after year is the impact, creativity, and story," said Katie Baker at Huntley Meadows. "When the photo shows an interesting scene and evokes a feeling, that is what will rise to the top," Baker added, noting that the toad picture clearly engaged the imagination of the judges. "One can imagine that toad taking in his surroundings, king of his domain," she said.
All photos are hung in the Norma Hoffman Visitor Center through Saturday, Feb. 26. In addition to the ribbons awarded by the three judges, there is also a People’s Choice Award, and visitors to the show can vote for their favorite through Feb. 26 at the center.
Norma Hoffman, who the visitor center is named for, was a champion of Huntley Meadows Park. She co-founded the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park in 1985, serving as the president and helping to protect the park.