Southern AZ students take home cash prizes, bragging rights in photo contest

Southern AZ students take home cash prizes, bragging rights in photo contest
Damian Galasso of Tucson took home the top prize for “Dragonfly.” (Source: The Nature Conservancy)
• Julian Pimienta, Tucson, for “Tanque Verde Canyon” (Source: The Nature Conservancy)
• Julian Pimienta, Tucson, for “Tanque Verde Canyon” (Source: The Nature Conservancy)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Students from Phoenix, Tucson, Prescott and Sedona impressed the socks off professional photographers in the 6th annual "Adventures in Nature" Photo Content.

This year's winner used a microscope to zoom his camera in on the subject, giving us a close-up look at the head of a dragonfly with morning dew water droplets on it. Damian Galasso of Tucson took home the top prize for "Dragonfly."

"My goal in photography is to make viewers experience what I saw and felt the moment I took the photo," said Damian Galasso, Tucson freshman.

- Sean Stubben of Gilbert won second place with his stunning entry, "Harris's Antelope Squirrel."

- Gilbert is also home to third-place winner Justin Martinez, for "Arizona Beauty."

"I usually take photos of people and animals," remarked Justin Martinez, Gilbert junior. "Taking pictures of plants and landscapes was new for me. I gained a deeper understanding of nature and the power of photography. "

What started as a Tucson competition has expanded across the state. This year, 1,140 Arizonans – ages 13-18 – engaged in the creative contest.

"This challenge is a great way to inspire younger generations to spend more time outside and to look at nature in different and creative ways," said Tana Kappel, marketing manager for The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, in a recent news release. "This competition is also the driving force behind some great partnerships."

Winners will receive up to $10,000 in prize money plus gift certificates and passes to Nature Conservancy preserves in Arizona. The breakdown is $5,000 for first, $2500 for second and $1,000 for third. All honorable mentions earn $250. They are:

- Jacqueline Maldonado, Tucson, for "Hummingbird"

- Zach Schlamowitz, Tucson, for "Color Rained Out"

- Julian Pimienta, Tucson, for "Tanque Verde Canyon"

- Marissa Lasso, Sedona, for "Red Rock Air"

- Mary Kayser, Prescott, for "Sunset in Grass"

- Jonathan Auh, Scottsdale, for "Superstition Glow"

- Abelardo Garcia, Phoenix, for "Focused"

Contest winners will also have their photos published by the sponsors: The Nature Conservancy in Arizona, Arizona Highways magazine and Cox Communications. Plus, winners will receive a photography workshop from Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

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