Kevin Keyes of Westmont took first place in the Forest Preserve District of Will County's Preserve the Moment photo contest, which ended Jan. 20 when online voting concluded for seven finalists’ photos.
After all of the likes, shares and comments were tallied on the District’s Facebook page, Keyes' photo of a toad perched on a toadstool in Rock Run Preserve
in Joliet won the overall contest, which began June 1.
Second place went to Lauren Dundek of New Lenox for her photo of a frog peeking through the foliage in Hickory Creek Preserve – Hickory Creek Junction
in Mokena. And Chuck Medrano of Mokena won third place with his serene photo of a snow-covered bridge in Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve
in New Lenox Township.
All three contestants responded via email to the contest results.
"I was humbled to just be named a finalist, to win is definitely a fantastic feeling," Keyes said. "I want to thank the Will County forest preserve district for hosting an incredible contest and for providing amazing preserves for the public to explore and enjoy. I want to congratulate the other finalists and every contestant. The photos were all stunning."
Keyes said he spends every spare moment outside and he loves photography.
"There is nothing more special than a perfect sunset or sunrise, a tranquil lake or stream or an intimate encounter with beautiful wildlife."
Dundek was happy to hear her frog photo took second place. She said the fact that she is an artist and loves nature drew her to the contest.
"Before the contest even started, I would usually bring my camera with me on walks and bike rides because you never know what you are going to see during your time in the forest preserve," she explained. "Once the contest started, I had the perfect excuse to get outside (not that you really need one). It has been very fun to follow the photos over the months, and I even went to a new preserve as a result of the contest."
Medrano said the contest motivated him to take up nature photography as a new hobby.
"I really enjoyed entering my photos each month and it was a great excuse to explore all the beautiful preserves we have here in Will County. I appreciate the chance to participate in the contest and look forward to entering again next year."
Prizes were awarded for the top three finishers, and all who entered the contest qualified for a participation gift. Around 160 people submitted more than 700 photos for consideration.
To view all of the 2016 Preserve the Moment contest entries, visit the Forest Preserve District's Flickr page
Sign up for the District’s weekly, digital Citizen newsletter
to find out about the next Preserve the Moment Contest and other photo contests the District has planned for 2017.