All entries in the Photo Arts Club of Toledo's 27th Annual Photo Contest are on display at the National Center for Nature Photography at Secor Metropark.
The show, which consists of about 330 photographs, runs through April 29 at Secor, 10001 W. Central Ave. in Sylvania Township. The Nature Photography Center is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free.
Karen Pugh, the gallery manager, attributes much of the contest's popularity to digital photography, which is attracting hobbyists who would not have been interested in the pastime when film technology dominated.
"Digital photography has just opened it up," she said.
Contest rules allow the photographers to indulge their creative tastes by altering their work using software such as Photoshop. That's what the Best in Show winner Kim Kocinski did with her top winning entry called "Stepping Out of the Shadows."
Her photo is a haunting image of someone dressed in a gray hooded sweatshirt wearing a World War I-era gas mask. The person's eyes stare straight into the viewer's through the wide lenses of the mask, and the brick wall and use of darkness add to the photo's vague sense of Orwellian menace.
Ms. Kocinski, who lives in Swanton, laughed at the idea that her photo might be interpreted as carrying a political or philosophical message. "There is no message," she explained.
She said the person in the gas mask is her 19-year-old daughter Ashley Kocinski, who borrowed the mask from a friend who used it as part of a Halloween costume. The brick wall in the background and shadow were added.
Ms. Kocinski said she became serious about photography three years ago and recently began putting "a mood or story" into her photos.
Ms. Kocinski's winning photo was entered in the contest's People category. The other categories were Black and White, Places, Flora, Fauna, and Open.
In the Fauna category, the first-place ribbon was won by Alex Lenhart, a 12-year-old from Rocky River, Ohio, who has taken photography lessons through the Metroparks of the Toledo Area. His photo, called "Sky in a Falcon's Eye," is a head shot of a rescued peregrine falcon taken at Nature's Nursery in Whitehouse.
Alex said he has been a photographer for three years and enjoys snapping pictures of wildlife and historical subjects such as scenes at Fort Meigs or Civil War re-enactments such as the Battle of Manassas. He said he has taken lessons from Metroparks photographer Art Weber and naturalist Bob Jacksy.
Joe Pizzuto, president of the photo club, said the contest is open to all amateurs and the judges do not have the name of the photographs or photographer when they make their evaluations.
"I think each year the entries have been getting better," he said. "This gives area artists a venue to show their work."41.67341 -83.78136
Exhibit at National Center for Nature Photography runs through April.