Birds, reptiles, and trilobites, oh my! Contestants submitted a myriad of photographs in hopes of taking home the top spot in this year's Photographer-at-Large photo contest. For the first time, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology opened up voting to our alumni. With 73 voters sending in over 300 votes, we have a winner!
Teresa Pegan, an EEB Ph.D. student, took home first place with their image, “Peep.” This bright Prothonotary Warbler captivated voters with 126 votes. The award-winning photo was taken in Magee Marsh in northwestern Ohio, a spot prevalent with bird watchers.
“There is a well-known boardwalk at Magee Marsh that overlooks a marshy patch of woods right on the shore of Lake Erie. Migrating birds congregate in this patch on their way around the lake,” said Pegan. “The birds often get very close to people on the boardwalk, which makes it a famous spot for birders and photographers. When I took the picture, this warbler was looking for food in a dead tree right in front of me.”
Second place had us zooming in on the details! Yu Kai Tan, EEB Ph.D. student, took second place with his close-up shot titled “Modern Trilobites”. Using UV lights, they were able to illuminate horseshoe crab hatchlings and show their translucent bodies.
“This view is less than two centimeters across. A crazy whim to turn our UV lights on young “trilobite stage” horseshoe crabs hatchlings brought a huge surprise. Their translucent bodies, their ten tiny helplessly twiddling legs, glowing a brilliant electric blue, are one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen through a macro lens – and then there's that conspicuously absent tail,” said Tan. “How many have seen these modern "trilobites" glowing in splendor?” The Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus polyphemus) swarm up the US east coast annually in the thousands (millions in some places) during high tides on full moon nights in May and June. Their hatchlings are vulnerable to risk of drought and being preyed on by both terrestrial and marine predators.”
Another fluffy contender helped secure third place. Fluff on Stilts, shot by Eric Gulson-Castillo, EEB Ph.D. student, features a black-necked stilt chick. Fluff received 96 votes in total.
“Some friends and I went birding around southwest Puerto Rico before an ornithology conference in San Juan (American Ornithological Society and Birds Caribbean),” said Gulson-Castillo. “While we were in the salt flats near Cabo Rojo, we passed a stretch of shallow water in which three recently fledged Black-necked Stilts were foraging, sort of independently of any of the nearby adults.”
Three honorable mentions were included in this year’s Photographer at Large contest.
Fern Autofluorescence, photographed by Kyle Lough, research lab technician in the Herbarium, earned first honorable mention.
“I used a Nikon DSLR camera, a macro lens, and a tripod. In a very dark room, I exposed the fern to only ultraviolet light (365 nm), which is absorbed by the plant tissue and re-emitted at a longer wavelength in the visible spectrum,” said Lough. “The chlorophyll in the pinna fluoresces magenta while the lignin in the rachis fluoresces cyan. This technique is called ultraviolet-induced visible fluorescence, which is quite different from the reflected visible light that we normally use to create an image.”
Imp of Darkness received second honorable mention. Photographed by Tristan Schramer, EEB Ph.D. student, this giant male marine iguana captivated our audience. In his close-up, you can see his skin's beautiful texture and long claws.
"In terms of being part of my research or interests, I'd say both! I took this photo while I was studying abroad," said Schramer. "I did participate in several marine iguana census counts during the term with researchers from Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ)."
Teresa Sauer secured our last honorable mention! Sauer takes us back to the wonderful fall foliage with her photograph, Early Fall Reflections.
“We do fieldwork on local lakes collecting zooplankton samples from July through November, so I was able to see a lot of beautiful fall leaves from our boat,” said Sauer. “The day I took the photo, we were heading back from collecting our samples on the boat at Mill lake, and the leaves were gorgeous, especially with the wonderful weather.”
The 15th annual EEB Photographer at Large Contest was held in fond memory of David Bay, the self-described “photographer-at-large” for EEB and its predecessor departments for 34 years.