Annual Starved Rock Photography Show through January 6, 2024


You have until January 6, 2024, to view the 97 amazing photographs entered into the Annual Starved Rock Photography Show at the Starved Rock Visitor Center. The Starved Rock Visitor Center is open from 9 AM to 4 PM. This year’s categories include North American landscapes, parks, and habitats; bodies of water; mammals; flowers and plants; trees, lichen, and fungi; birds; insects, fish, reptiles, and amphibians; Illinois parks, preserves, and habitats; and waterfalls and icefalls. An award reception will be held on January 7, 2024, from 1-3 PM, for those who entered the show and their guests, and the media, at the Starved Rock Visitor Center.

Dave Weth, Normal, Illinois, won the Grand Prize; Philip Smith, West Chicago, Illinois, won 2nd Place; Heather Wellman Farrell, Streator, Illinois, won 3rd Place. The entries this year almost doubled from last year’s 52 entries. The annual show started in 2019. Judges include professional photographers Chris Young from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Kathy Casstevens from the Starved Rock Lodge, and Matthew Klein from the Starved Rock Foundation and Starved Rock Hikers.

Best of Show-Grand Prize, Dave Weth, Normal, Illinois.
“Flying Colors”
Insect on Flower
I enjoy capturing unique moments with my camera. Going out with it is like a treasure hunt-you never know what you’ll find. I began my photography journey to more easily identify birds that I saw on my outings. My image is named “Flying Colors”. I took this image at Funks Grove during the summer when birding slowed down. I chose to enter this image because of its vibrant colors.

2nd Place- Philip Smith, West Chicago, Illinois.
“I Spy”
Red fox kit
I enjoy photography because of its pure beauty and truth. It is always moving and never fails to make a person smile or cry or just become completely calm. I started seriously taking photos 5 years ago with my first DSLR. My picture title of “I Spy” was just the way this fox kit was acting the whole time that I interacted with it. He would look around corners to see if I was still there and try to not let me see him! Although it did seem that he enjoyed the time we spent together more than the other 4 kits that were around. The photo was taken in an abandoned old farm shed in Plainfield Illinois. The day I took that photo and looked at his face, I knew it was one of my favorite pics I have ever taken.

3rd Place-Heather Wellman Farrell, Streator, Illinois.
“Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed”
Short-eared owl
I started nature watching and photography just a few years ago as a calming distraction; I love so many things about it.  The quiet peaceful sunrises, sunsets, the sounds, the treasure hunt, and then coming home to discover what was hopefully captured through the camera are just a few aspects to love.  I also love sharing images of nature with people who cannot get out and experience it for themselves, so I chose the short-eared owl image “Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed” for the show.  These tiny owls are not often seen without really hunting for them, and for all of the time I spent looking this was a chance encounter.  I was just outside Streator and decided to change directions when my Jeep tires entered a bit of grass and up popped the bird!  It stopped just feet away from the jeep to collect itself giving me a moment to capture a shot before it flew off.

All IDNR/state park programs are FREE but donations to the Starved Rock Foundation on site are more than welcome. Most programs at the park are made possible through funding from donations to the Starved Rock Foundation, the not-for-profit friends group at the park (not to be confused with the Starved Rock Community Foundation).

Starved Rock State Park is administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The mission of the IDNR is to manage, conserve, and protect Illinois’ natural, recreational, and cultural resources, further the public’s understanding and appreciation of those resources, and promote the education, science, and public safety of Illinois’ natural resources for present and future generations.

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