WGNSS Winning Photographs Displayed At Powder Valley

By Don Corrigan (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

A ruby-throated hummingbird will be seen feeding her young at Powder Valley Nature Center starting June 1. The brightly-colored bird is part of a month-long exhibit of award-winning photos assembled by the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.

“Powder Valley is perfect for exhibiting our winning photographs,” said Bill Duncan, chairperson of the society’s Nature Photography Group. “The photos showcase the nature subjects and scenes that visitors can hope to see in their own outdoor excursions. They also provide a bit of education about the photo subjects.”

Read more below.

In addition to the grand prize winning photo of the mother hummingbird taken by Bill Duncan, first-place winners in the 2019 society photo competition are:

• Casey Galvin, who captured a shot of a uniquely-colored katydid.

• Ted MacRae with a beautiful Grass-leaved Lady’s Tresses Orchid.

• Ryan Fairbanks with a startling shot of a Jackson’s Chameleon.

• In addition to his candid katydid, Galvin came through with a first place in landscapes for a Blazing Star blooming on an igneous glade at Taum Sauk State Park in southern Missouri.

“I feel our photo contest is unique in that we try our best to judge based on equal parts artistic merits and the natural history story the image portrays,” said Duncan. “In other words, does the image demonstrate a special natural history story? A rare species? An endangered habitat?”

The biannual photo competition began in 2013 under the direction of the nature society’s Rich Thoma. First-place images over the years have included velvet foot mushrooms, a beach wolf spider and a coyote in a snow scene.

Thoma and Duncan hope the photo exhibit at Powder Valley will inspire visitors to take an interest in nature photography activities. Anyone interested can visit the nature group’s website,, or they can contact Duncan at

“The Webster Groves Nature Study Society will be celebrating its centennial next year,” noted Duncan. “We are one of the oldest natural history organizations of its kind. Other than obvious changes in technology used, the organization has changed very little in regard to its main purposes of education of its members and involvement in citizen-based science of the natural world.”

Duncan said he recently finished research into past iterations of the nature photography group, including one that was active between 1929 and 1935. He said the technology of the photographic medium has changed greatly between then and the current Nature Photography Group.

“However, the topics they discussed, and field trips they conducted, would be quite familiar to the modern nature photographer,” said Duncan. “This is a fact I love and hopefully should help with another one of our goals, which is nature conservation. I would love it if someone 100 years from now can make the same inference as I did about our nature activities and our mission.”

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