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Tribute to the 'Mighty Redwoods' Wins EcoWatch Earth Day Photo Contest

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'Morning In The Mighty Redwoods.' David Ruddock

Today is Earth Day, which means it is also the moment you have all been waiting for: The moment when EcoWatch announces the winner of our second-ever photo contest!


The theme for this year's Earth Day is "Protect Our Species," so EcoWatch asked readers to submit their best photos of the creatures that inhabit this Earth. We then assembled a crack team of activists, writers and photographers to judge the entries we received: Blue Sphere Foundation Campaign Manager Candace Crespi, The Explorers Journal editor Angela Schuster and photographer and new media artist Diane Boswell.

And the winner is ... David Ruddock, for his captivating photo Morning In The Mighty Redwoods.

Ruddock is a retired photographer and graphic designer who lives with his wife Susie in Mckinleyville, California. Their town is centrally located to several Old Growth coastal Redwood groves, and the couple take advantage of that fact at least once a month.

"We stood beside our first Redwood on a camping trip about fifteen years ago and decided then and there that when we retired, we would do so in an area where we could walk among them often," Ruddock wrote in an email. "John Steinbeck once wrote, 'The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always.'"

Asked about the inspiration for this particular photo, Ruddock answered he "felt the scene portrayed the silence and sense of awe you receive from the Redwoods."

The judges agreed.

"There are of course many photos that were close but that one seemed to evoke an emotion in the photograph about the awareness of a unique species," Boswell said in an email explaining the judges' choice.

She said the judges based their decision both on technical elements like composition, lighting, clarity and image quality, as well as on how well the image conveyed "an emotional connection to nature and conservation."

"We noticed that in the Redwoods photo the rays of light on the subject created dimension and the small figure of the hiker gave it a feeling of scale," Boswell said.

Ruddock will receive a $250 Patagonia eGift Card as his prize.

The second runner-up was the photo Yellow Warbler on Frozen Dogwood Tree by John Strange.

'Yellow Warbler on Frozen Dogwood Tree.'

John Strange

Strange is a 17-year-old student from North Carolina. He snapped the photograph in a lucky moment.

"I was out right then because I love to photograph the local wildlife to the point were I spend most of my free time out with my camera. The wildlife I photograph is my passion and my inspiration," Strange said in an email.

That passion meant he was ready to capture a unique situation.

"This bird is rare in my area, as is the snow that we had had during the time I took this photograph. When taken I immediately loved this photograph because of the beautiful yellow bird juxtaposed against the uniform purplish background of the dogwood tree encased in ice," Strange wrote.

Boswell also praised to the contrast between the yellow bird and the gray background. She said the photo captured the vulnerability of nature.

"It brings awareness to the importance of how all our decisions in protecting the environment are important for the most delicate to survive," she said.

This is EcoWatch's second photo contest. The winner of our first contest, held in honor of Thanksgiving 2018, was Dakota Altman of Lincoln, Nebraska for his mesmerizing image of a morning sunlight caught in a spider's web.

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