Thursday, October 26, 2000

N.Ky. man honored for photo of snake

Magazine, Smithsonian recognize vivid work

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Garry Walter remembers that day in the autumn of 1998 as he strolled through a wooded area near Russell Springs looking for likely wildlife subjects to capture on film.

        A splash of bright green amid a sea of red leaves caught his eye and the lens of his camera, and the final product of that encounter is a photo of a green snake that is on display through December at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

[photo] Garry Walter holds his award-winning photograph of a snake.
(Enquirer photo)
| ZOOM |
        Mr. Walter, 51, a Highland Heights native who specializes in outdoor wildlife photos, captured first prize recently in the Nature's Best magazine photo contest (previously known as National Wildlife) for his shot of the green snake poised on bright red leaves.

        “It was a chilly morning, and the snake was moving slowly,” Mr. Walter said. “The green caught my eye in all the red. He stayed there while I took several shots.”

        Although he has been involved in wildlife and outdoor photography for 15 years and has entered contests before, this was his first winner. In addition to the Smithsonian display, Mr. Walter received a plaque and a publication fee from the magazine.

        “It took a little while for it to sink in just how important this award is,” he said. “But when I was standing in the rotunda of the Smithsonian, I was really impressed.”

        Mr. Walter moved to Russell Springs in south-central Kentucky, near Lake Cumberland, 20 years ago, working as a sales representative for an auto parts company.

        “There was a period about 15 years ago when I had a job layoff, and I took up photography,” he said.

        “I really liked outdoor photography, and I have continued to work at it over the years. But I have always had another job. I ran a picture frame gallery in Russell Springs for several years.”

        He and his wife moved back to Highland Heights a few months ago, and Mr. Walter took a job in the service section of the Newport Aquarium. He puts in time at the shark tank overlook, the touch pool and several other areas, explaining the displays and answering visitors' questions.

        “I really like it here,” he said of the aquarium. “I enjoy working with people, and I really like being around all the fish and other animals.”

        As he spent more time outdoors with a camera, Mr. Walter said he developed his own techniques. He gradually built up his equipment to fit the needs of outdoor wildlife photography.

        “I would rather do photography full time, but I've never been good at the marketing and sales end of the business,” he said with a laugh. “I take good photos, but I don't market myself very well.”

        Another of Mr. Walter's photos, of an insect known as a walking stick peering over the edge of a leaf with the rest of its body silhouetted through the leaf by sunlight, won an honorable mention award in the same contest.


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