PHOTOJUDGES:  Contest judges pore over 121 entries: photojournalist Chelle Koster Walton, city councilwoman Holly D. Smith, and refuge ranger Monica Scroggin.
PHOTOJUDGES: Contest judges pore over 121 entries: photojournalist Chelle Koster Walton, city councilwoman Holly D. Smith, and refuge ranger Monica Scroggin.

“Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge announced the winners of its annual “Ding” Darling Days Amateur Nature Photography Contest Saturday, Oct. 13 at a special Conservation Art Day presentation in the Refuge Visitor & Education Center, part of the weeklong “Ding” Darling Days celebration on Sanibel Island.

Earlier, on Sept. 28, judges had selected three winners and 11 honorable mentions out of 121 entries from 20 states, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. All photograph entries were shot at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge complex.

First place went to Frank Brinker of Oberageri, Switzerland, for his great blue heron portrait titled "Shakin’." Contest judge Holly D. Smith, city of Sanibel councilwoman, remarked on its stunning depth-of-field and unique capture. “I love its personality, pure and simple,” she said of the bird’s disheveled appearance, looking as though it just shook water from its feathers.

John Hoyt from Lewes, Del., took second place with a black-and-white close-up of a female anhinga. “It’s so strikingly artistic with dramatic lighting and great detail,” said judge Chelle Koster Walton, a Sanibel photojournalist.

In third place was Cheri Hollis from Sanibel, with a blue-winged teal shot titled “True Blue.” “She actually got all the fine details of the duck, even the color under its wing, and the ripples in the water,” said refuge ranger Monica Scroggin, the third judge.

“We always choose three judges for the contest,” said Terry Baldwin, who coordinates the contest along with DDWS development officer Sierra Hoisington. “A refuge staff member, a professional photographer, and a member of the Sanibel community.”

The three winners received cash awards from DDWS at the presentation on Saturday -- $250 for first place, $150 for second, and $100 for third. Each honorable mention winner, listed below, received a $25 award, which reflects a refund of the contest entry fee. The winning photographs and honorable mention award entries will be on display in the Refuge Education Center throughout the year.

To view the other top-ranking entries, visit
HONORABLE MENTIONS (in alphabetical order):
Ronald Clark, Milburn, N.J. – “Who Is in Charge Here?”
Rebecca Clemens, Sanibel – “Morning Hunt”
Heidi Dirkse, Wolverine, Mich. – “Shades of Green”
Bill Fischer, Sanibel – “Mangrove Cuckoo Resting on Branch”
Christie Hammond, Nashville, Tenn. – “Early Morning Reflections”
Valerie Heldt, Cape Coral – “Fungus Among Us”
Kent Jager, Sanibel – “Illuminated Gator”
James Lotstein, Canton, Conn. – “Look at Me”
Barry Nagle, South Barrington, Ill. – “Tug o’ War”
Linda Normoyle, Fort Myers – “Baby Tri-colored Heron”
Anthony Pietraniello, Merrick, N.Y. – “The Dance”
“Ding” Darling Days 2018 sponsors included: ROSEATE SPOONBILL SPONSORS: Doc’s Ford Sanibel Rum Bar & Grille; GREAT EGRET SPONSORS: Wayne & Linda Boyd, Jim & Patty Sprankle; GREAT BLUE HERON SPONSORS: Bailey’s General Store, Mike & Terry Baldwin, Bank of the Islands, Island Sun, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, Sanibel Captiva Rotary Club, Sanibel Moorings, Sunny Day Guide; REDDISH EGRET SPONSORS: Sarah Ashton - Realtor, RE/MAX of the Islands, Casa Ybel Resort, Chicago Midwest Claims, Inc., Jerry Edelman & Maryanne Daly, The Gresham Family, Jensen’s on the Gulf and Marina & Cottages, Tiffani Kaliko and John Silvia, Mitchell’s Sand Castles, Palm Printing, Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, George & Wendy Schnapp, Winston & Barbara Spurgeon; SNOWY EGRET SPONSORS: Ambu Yoga, Anisa Stewart Jewelry, Colony Inn, Bob & Kemba DeGroot, John & Anette Gritti, Dave Horton, Island Therapy Center, Just Water, Panther Printing, Jim & Anne Scott, Santiva Chronicle, Nancy Tome.