A snake sunbathing at Sauk Trail Reservoir slithered into first place for the December portion of the Preserve the Moment photo contest.
The shot was snapped by Manhattan resident Jacob Dalen. Dalen said he was out taking photos in the Frankfort preserve when he almost stepped on the garter snake as it warmed itself on the gravel trail.
“It was a fairly large snake, as it was almost two feet long,” he said in an email. “To take the photo, I had to lay down on the gravel next to the snake, making sure I did not cause any added stress.”
Dalen, who is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he took many shots at different angles trying to get the perfect composition.
“I have been taking pictures since I was about 8 years old, but in 2016 I bought my first DSLR (camera). Since then, I have focused on taking pictures of wildlife because I have always felt a connection with nature."
And one of Dalen’s favorite places to photograph nature is in the preserves.
"Ever since I can remember, my parents have taken me to forest preserves and exposed me to the beauty of the natural world and the wonders it holds," he said. “I am beyond thrilled and honored that I have been chosen as this month’s photo contest winner, as I have been striving to express my passion for nature through photography since I snapped my first shot.”
Dalen is studying animal sciences at the university and he hopes to become a wildlife veterinarian.
Honorable mentions for December were awarded to:
- Frank Rink of Shorewood for a photo of a formation of flying merganser ducks at Rock Run Rookery in Joliet.
- Nancy Havener of Naperville for a shot of the sun and golden grass at Whalon Lake in Naperville.
- Michelle Wendling of Joliet for a serene scene of a deer foraging in the snow at Lower Rock Run Preserve in Joliet.
- Byron Morgan of Crete for a buck sporting velvet antlers at Thorn Creek Woods Nature Preserve in Monee Township.
To view all of the photos entered in the 2019 photo contest, visit the District’s Flickr account.
Dalen’s photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors once online voting begins via the Forest Preserve’s Facebook page on January 10. Overall winners will receive MasterCard gift cards worth $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place.
The photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.
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