A shimmering shot of pumpkin-colored shelf fungi took top honors in November's portion of the Preserve the Moment photo contest.
Mandy Bellamy of Lowell, Ind., snapped the winning photo at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve.
Judges selected the entry because of its unique angle, rich color and contrasting textures. Bellamy said she visits the preserves around two or three times per month.
"I just moved up this way a few months ago from South Carolina, so the preserves help me explore the area and get me back in touch with nature," she said in an email. "It also lets my dog stretch her legs."
Bellamy said it was a tip she learned during the Forest Preserve's guided fall photography hike at Goodenow Grove that helped her get the winning shot.
"The interpretive naturalist told everyone to focus on every aspect of the forest as a photo subject," she said. "Since then, whenever I go on a hike, I tend to focus on things that some people might not even notice. When I took that picture, my dog was actually doing her business, so I had a few extra seconds to look around and that’s when I spotted the shelf fungus. Luckily no one else was around when I took the shot because I had to lay on my stomach to get the right angle."
Shelf fungi, also known as polypores, are commonly found in North America on stumps, fallen branches and logs, but they also can get a toehold on living trees with damaged bark. While the host trees can be further harmed by the mushrooms, this decomposition process benefits the environment by returning nutrients to the soil and allowing for new tree growth. Shelf fungi also create nooks and crannies in trees that provide habitat for creatures.
Honorable mentions for the month of November were awarded to:
- Roland Saenz of Bolingbrook for a wintry portrait of a hawk at Whalon Lake.
- Amy Miller of Joliet for her photo of a duo of does at Rock Run Preserve.
- Joseph Traina of Joliet for a team of mallard ducks paddling their way through McKinley Woods.
- Michael Fagan of Frankfort for his photo of a bicyclist rolling through white oaks sporting their fall foliage in Hickory Creek Preserve.
All of the November entries can be viewed on the District's Flickr page.
ENTER YOUR PHOTOS FOR DECEMBER
The photo contest began May 1, and Bellamy’s photo will be one of eight monthly finalists competing for top honors after the contest concludes on December 31. Overall contest winners will be chosen in January via public voting on the District’s Facebook page.
Visa gift cards will be awarded in the amounts of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place. Contest prizes are made possible through the generous support of The Nature Foundation of Will County.
Contest photos must be taken by amateur photographers over the age of 18 in a Will County forest preserve or on a District trail during the contest time period. Be sure to read the contest rules before entering. Entries not adhering to the rules will automatically be disqualified.