The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

National and world

October 6, 2013

Bartlesville youth a finalist in photo contest

BARTLESVILLE — When eighth-grader Jack Settle entered his photography in the Washington County Fair, he was excited to receive both a first and second place ribbon. But this win was nothing compared to the excitement he felt on Sept. 19 while checking his email.

Jack, an eighth-grade student at Central Middle School, recently entered the Young Photographer of the Year contest for the Society of Biology, based in the United Kingdom. Just weeks after winning two ribbons at the fair, Jack received an email from the contest, notifying him that his photograph was one of just 12 chosen as a finalist from more than 600 entries.

Jack explained that he was introduced to the contest by Aaron Goodwin, a herpetologist and zookeeper at the Tulsa Zoo and Bartlesville resident who has also been a mentor to him.

“(Goodwin) takes me to go look for and catch snakes — it’s called herping, actually — and he just sent (the information) to me on Facebook,” Jack told the Examiner-Enterprise.

The photo, of a Habronattus coecatus, more commonly known as a jumping spider, was caught by mere chance, Jack explained, stating that he happened upon it in his driveway. And taking a trick from an old pro, he was able to catch the spider up close on film without the use of a powerful close-up lens.

“With that picture, I have a $7 macro reverse ring so I can mount the lens backwards, and it lets you get really close,” he said.

Jack learned this trick from Thomas Shahan, an Oklahoma native whose work on jumping spiders has been featured in National Geographic. Jack discovered Shahan through YouTube videos Shahan had created on macrophotography. For his 13th birthday, Jack’s parents arranged for him to meet with Shahan, who taught him various tips and tricks of macrophotography.

From age 4, Jack has been interested in insects. He made his first insect collection at 4, and did so every year after as well. Finally, when his mother had could stand the dead bugs no longer, his parents encouraged him to keep a “digital bug collection.” They bought him a small digital camera which he used until he was able to save enough money to purchase a new, higher quality camera. His interest in photography grew from that point on.

Although he is currently undecided on future college or career plans, Jack said that he “definitely want(s) to continue” photography as a hobby.

“I want to do anything with animals or music, more specifically with reptiles, but I like most animals,” Jack said, adding that he will continue photography as much as he can.

“I’ve encouraged him to major in biology and minor in photography,” his mother, Sonja Settle, said. “This is what he does. Every free chance he has, he wants to get out and explore with his camera.”

Aside from photography, Jack enjoys vocal and instrumental music. He is a member of the school choir and plays guitar, cajon and drums for his youth worship team at Grace Community Church. He is also a member of publications and student council.

Over the years, Jack said he has had many mentors who have continuously encouraged and inspired him. Mentors include Goodwin and Shahan, as well as local dermatologist Dr. David Eslicker, who saw Jack’s interest in falconry and allowed Jack to accompany him to photograph his birds; Oklahoma State University biology graduate who gave Jack his first pet tarantula and got him interested in birds and arthropods; and Dr. Stephen Mullin, a professor at Eastern Illinois University who allowed Jack to participate in a field excursion with a group of his students to explore a road where a large population of reptiles and amphibians migrate to.

“There are a bunch of people that kind of have helped him to this point — adults who just see kind of his passion and his potential and have just taken the time to kind of pour their knowledge and time into helping him pursue that,” Settle said.

In mid-October, Jack and his family will travel to London to attend a parliamentary reception and celebration on Oct. 16. A formal awards ceremony will be held the next day, where the winner of the competition will be announced. The winner will return home with 500 pounds (approximately US $800) and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. All finalists’ photographs will also be on display in the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

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