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Joliet Resident's Fiery Sunset Wins September Portion of Photo Contest

Photo for: Joliet Resident

Joliet resident Michelle Wendling was in the right place at the right time to capture a stunning sunset photo at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve

Her photo was selected as the September winner in the Forest Preserve’s Preserve the Moment photo contest. 

Judges were impressed with the photo’s composition and colors. The scene’s ominous gray clouds are pierced with a line of golden light. The sunset's glow illuminates the lake's artificial nesting structures and casts an orange glow on the water.

"I love going for a walk at Lake Renwick because it is one of the best places to see a gorgeous sunset over the water," Wendling said in an email. "On this particular night I was not expecting anything special because of the clouds, but the weather cleared up just enough on the horizon to make it almost look like it was on fire. It was memorable!"

Wendling said she began visiting Will County forest preserves around four years ago.

"I quit smoking and needed an activity to help with anxiety," she said. "I have found walking in nature to be very relaxing, but also exciting to see all the seasonal changes and animals." 

Honorable mentions were awarded to:

  • Michael Daley of Lemont for a photo of beautifully lit fungus on a log along Centennial Trail in Romeoville.
  • Michael Fagan of Frankfort for a photo of migrating pelicans chilling out in the river at McKinley Woods in Channahon.
  • Mark Hanna of Romeoville for a photo of two ducks flying in formation over blue water at Lockport Prairie Nature Preserve in Lockport Township.
  • Matt Serafini of Lockport for a photo of two deer nestled in the trees at McKinley Woods.

All of the contest's photo entries can be viewed on the District's Flickr page

Wendling’s photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors after the contest concludes on December 31.

Contest participants may enter up to five digital photos per month. All photos must be uploaded via the District’s contest upload page. Be sure to fill out all of the required categories, including the date and location the photo was taken.


Photos must be taken by amateur photographers age 18 or older, and they must be snapped in a Will County forest preserve during the contest period, which began April 1. For instance, pictures taken at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, and Pilcher Park, which is a City of Joliet park, will not qualify for the contest.

For a list of all Forest Preserve locations, check out the District's preserve page and be sure to read the contest rules before entering. Entries not adhering to the rules will automatically be disqualified.

The Preserve the Moment photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.


Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.


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