Museum displays winning images from Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition

For immediate release ‐ February 03, 2016

Contact: Jon Pishney, 919.707.8083. Images available upon request

"Snail on a post" by Timothy Faulkner, Kinston.

Snail on a post by Timothy Faulkner, Kinston. Invertebrates, First Place.

RALEIGH — For someone who has only been practicing serious photography for about eight years, Frank Ellison has done pretty well for himself. Ellison, 53, took first place in the Invertebrate category in the 2014 Photo Competition and now earned the top prize in the 2015 Wildlife in North Carolina Photo Competition. His photo and 30 other winning shots in 10 categories are on display at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences beginning Saturday, February 6 and through the end of July 2016.

“It gives me something to do,” Ellison said of his photography hobby. “I actually don’t like to shoot people. I like nature better. I like shooting micro. On that winning picture the flower is actually touch­ing the lens.”

Ellison, who is head of maintenance at Industries for the Blind in Winston-Salem, lives in Clemmons with his wife Julie and sons Taylor, 10, and Austin, 12. A small garden planted next to his house is a favorite haunt for Ellison and the bugs he likes to shoot.

“I usually come out early in the morning and look for micro shots,” he said. “We have tomato, squash and butterfly bushes next to the house. I saw a dark object in the yellow bloom and looked in and saw he was looking right back.”

Ellison shot about seven frames and went on with his morning. He has had several images pub­lished online at National Geographic’s Your Shot picture gallery, but didn’t think he had a winner with the assassin fly when he first saw it on his computer monitor. So, it’s taken a while for the reality of winning to sink in. “I don’t have anything to compare it to,” he said. “It’s the first major photo competition that I’ve won.”

If Ellison has a “secret weapon” it might not be his Nikon D700, but perhaps his little garden next to his house. He said the winning shot he got for the 2015 contest was taken 10 feet from the spot he shot an assassin fly to win the Invertebrate category last year. It’s proving to be a very fertile garden.

Marsha Tillett, the art director at Wildlife in North Carolina magazine and one of the judges, commented on this year’s contest, including Ellison’s assassin fly image. “The Wildlife in North Carolina staff really enjoys the photo competition issue. We like seeing what our readers are experiencing, and once again the submis­sions for this year’s contest were filled with many beautiful images. But the remarkable eyes of this fly, and the striking contrast of colors in this photograph stood out to all the judges and was easily chosen as our grand prize winner.”

The other four judges for this year’s contest were staff graphic designers Amy Friend and Bryant Cole and staff photographer Melissa McGaw. Mike Dunn, retired senior manager of outreach at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, was also a judge and is a veteran photographer in his own right.

This year there was an uptick in entries with almost 1,500 images uploaded. All winning photo­graphs may be seen on exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences as well as online at

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (11 W. Jones St. and 121 W. Jones St.) in downtown Raleigh is an active research institution that engages visitors of every age and stage of learning in the wonders of science and the natural world, drawing them into the intriguing fields of study that are critical to the future of North Carolina. Hours: Mon.- Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sun., noon-5 p.m. Visit the Museum online at Emlyn Koster, PhD, Museum Director; Susan Kluttz, Secretary, N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; Pat McCrory, Governor.

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR’s mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state’s history, conserving the state’s natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development. NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette’s Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit

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