From a bluebird fluttering to the ground before gulping down some freshly caught grubs to water drops gracing the petals of a flower, photographers around the area captured images of natural sights that are now on display in downtown Aiken.
The 3rd Annual Birds & Butterflies Amateur Photography Contest winners have been named, and all 81 entries are up for the public to view until Saturday.
First- and second-place winners were announced in three categories, which include critters, scenery and the youth division. First- and second-place People’s Choice awards were also given to two individuals who got the most votes from the public.
All of the photographs were taken somewhere in the state of South Carolina.
Victoria Shirley, 16, who won first place in the youth division last year for her photograph of a barking tree frog, took home a second-place ribbon this year for her photograph of a robber fly. Shirley dreams of being a wildlife photographer, and her father, Larry, said she takes pictures of whatever she finds outdoors.
“As long as she can look at animals and photograph them, she’s happy,” Larry said.
Another young photographer, Dawson Hudgens, who is only 6 years old and was the youngest to enter the contest this year, submitted two photos of his toad friend Otis. His mother Devon said this was his first contest.
Tom Brandner won first place for his photograph of a bright yellow and red flower. Brandner, who is also a gardener, said he couldn’t believe how well the photo turned out when he took it and decided to submit it for the contest. He has participated every year, and this is the first time he’s won.
Brandner said the contest is not only fun but is also beneficial because it motivates residents to take a closer look at the world around them.
“It’s a way of getting people out and seeing wildlife,” he said.
Store owner Ron Brenneman said the contest was a huge success again this year. He’s always impressed by the entries and enjoys seeing the pictures snapped by these very talented residents.
“We got a lot of good photographers in Aiken, and we’re fortunate that we have wildlife and natural things in South Carolina that people can see and photograph,” Brenneman said.
Birds and Butterflies will use entries from the contest to make a calendar. Last year, every copy printed was sold.
Brenneman is aiming to have the calendars available by October. For each calendar sold, $1 will go to the Silver Bluff Audubon Center in Jackson.
Birds and Butterflies is located at 117 Laurens Street N.W. and is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.