MORRIS – Morris resident Gerald Diederich vividly remembers the morning he spotted a Scarlet Tanager perched on a tree branch near Holderman Road, because luckily, he had his camera.
The photo he took of the bright red tanager would go on to win top honors at this year’s Goose Lake Prairie photo contest, which had about 16 contestants and 84 entries.
“I’m pretty much into birds, and the photography was more of a sideline,” said Diederich, who entered eight photos in the contest and won four awards, including best in show.
This was the Morris resident’s first year entering the Goose Lake photo competition. After competing in the Grundy County Corn Festival, Diederich was urged by friends and Goose Lake organizers to enter the contest.
“They were all gorgeous photos. He walked away with a lot of ribbons,” said Susie Johnson, President of Goose Lake Prairie partners and organizer of the event.
This marked the eighth consecutive year for the Goose Lake photo contest which typically draws nature photo enthusiast from all over Illinois.
This year’s photo contest saw contestants from across the state, with about 10 different cities represented, including Northbrook, Kankakee and Lockport.
Judges from the Morris Camera Club reviewed the entries for a few hours before choosing the winners.
“They were all exceptional photos. The judges had a really tough time deciding this year,” Johnson said. “The judges did a really nice job for us.”
The amateur competition is meant to provide feedback to the burgeoning photographers, and to highlight the natural beauty of Illinois outdoors. Ensuring a photo depicted only natural, outdoor scenes was a requirement for submission.
The winning photos were on display for two days last week at the Goose Lake Prairie visitors center, 5010 N. Jugtown Road off Pine Bluff Road in Morris, and attracted people who never had been to the natural area.
“We had two people who hadn’t come just to look at the prints,” Johnson said. “That’s kind of what we’re looking for. We want to bring people out who have never enjoyed the park before. And if you happen to bring your camera out to take pictures, then that’s a possible entry for next year’s photo show.”