Troy Mattes, a former major league pitcher, was out for a stroll near Jiggs Landing in Bradenton when a fearsome pair of watery eyes came into focus. A 4-foot alligator “didn’t seem too worried about a guy with a camera,” Mattes said. And the next thing, click.
A Riverview High-Sarasota grad, Mattes’ alligator photo won best-in-show in the 2015 Manatee County Photography Challenge. At the time, he said, “I’m as amateur a photographer as there is.”
And that’s just fine with county organizers who are seeking new submissions for the second annual Photography Challenge. The contest is divided into landscape, wildlife, and people categories and the deadline to enter is Feb. 28.
The winners will be honored at a gallery show at the Valentine House (photo, above) at Robinson Preserve in Bradenton, said Cary Catts, a parks department education specialist.
Last year’s event attracted roughly 700 photos by 100 amateur shot-takers, organizers said. A feathery riddle was solved, too, when the shy mangrove cuckoo was framed at Robinson Preserve by Patty McIntosh, winning best wildlife photo.
“The fact it was photographed at Robinson Preserve confirms that we have that species here,” said Melissa Nell, a parks department manager. “It’s really exciting because for years we’ve had people say, ‘I’ve heard this bird,’ or someone would say they saw it.
“The fact we have a photo of it now from Robinson Preserve is huge.”
» Captive breeding may be the last chance to save Florida's grasshopper sparrow, North America's most endangered bird. (Via Audubon)