Northwoods Animal Babies Photo Contest winners announced

Courtesy of the Cable Natural History Museum

CABLE – The secret to getting great photos is to “get outside and have your camera with you,” advised Judy Curnow, who won first place in the Cable Natural History Museum’s Northwoods Animal Babies Photo Contest this summer with a stunning image of a young bobcat.

This photo of a young bobcat earned Judy Curnow first place in the professionally judged category of the Northwoods Animal Babies Photo Contest hosted by the Cable Natural History Museum this summer.

This past August, the Cable Natural History Museum invited kids and adults of any age to submit their digital photos of baby or young animals and their hard-working parents. The catch was that the animals had to be Northwoods natives, because the contest is a warm-up for the Museum’s 2022 exhibit about young animals in nature, titled “Growing Up Wild.”

Nineteen people submitted over 100 photos to the contest, which closed on Sept. 1. James Netz, a professional photographer with a gallery in Hayward, Wis., generously sponsored the contest and also served as the expert judge. At the same time, the Museum ran a People’s Choice contest using social media. Photos were posted in themed albums (fawns, ducks, loons, mammals, etc.), and the public could vote by “liking” or commenting.

Cindy Schmidt’s image of a common loon chick reaching eagerly for a minnow in their parent’s beak rose to the top of the loon album.

“It was a beautiful day,” Schmidt reminisced to Museum Naturalist Emily Stone. “We could see them floating in the bay. We decided to go out there and float on the pontoon.”

These loons captured the hearts of many in the People’s Choice Awards of the Northwoods Animal Babies Photo Contest hosted by the Cable Natural History Museum this summer. Photo by Cindy Schmidt.

Despite having recently treated herself to a “mega” telephoto lens, Schmidt had to crop the image because she stayed back far enough not to disturb the loon family. The first rule of the contest was that photographers must not interfere with natural wildlife behavior.

Schmidt’s photo won first place in the People’s Choice Awards. Winners in this contest received gift cards to local businesses, while winners of the professionally-judged contest earned cash prizes.

Both Curnow and Schmidt, first place winners, said that they are focused on improving their techniques through taking workshops, critiquing their own photos, and watching tutorial videos online. Neither photographer has big plans to sell their work, but Curnow does have photo cards for sale at the One Ten Gallery in Frederic, WI.

Contest winners are as follows:

Professionally-judged contest: First place, Judy Curnow, bobcat; second place, Tracie Schoone, deer and one fawn; third place, Robert Coffey, ducklings.

People’s Choice Awards: First place, Cindy Schmidt, loon baby being fed; second place, Gary Bartholomew, painted turtles; third place, Bonnie Chase, fawn.

All winning photos can be viewed at

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