Mary Jacobs is well-known locally for her love of photography.
She has been seen taking photos at many events over the years. She was the long-time chair of the domestics show at the Estevan Exhibition Association’s fair. She’s also a member of the South East Saskatchewan Photo Club, and she is a perennial winner in the photography contest offered by the Estevan Wildlife Federation.
Now she’s been recognized at the provincial level for her skills.
Jacobs took top spot in the wildlife category at the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation’s (SWF) annual photography contest, for a photo of a couple of pheasants in a field. The winner was revealed by the SWF recently.
She has finished second and third in the provincial contest previously, but has never taken top spot.
“Every so often, a bunch of us would go out driving, looking for wildlife pictures, and this one day, we were driving down the road, and there was a group of pheasants that had crossed the road,” Jacobs told the Mercury.
“There were three of them. Two wanted to fight and the other watched. So we stopped and we took pictures out of the car, and they wouldn’t pay any attention to us. I’m not sure what they were fighting about, because it wasn’t breeding season.”
The tiff involving the birds continued for about 15 minutes.
Jacobs loved the photo because it showed the activity of the two birds.
“A lot of times, I get … portrait-type pictures with not a lot of action, and this one the action was there,” she said.
She believes she entered 10 or 12 photos for the local competition offered by the EWF for pictures taken in 2020. Her pheasant picture was then sent on to provincials.
Darrell Crabbee, the executive director of the SWF, said they had a lot of interest for this year’s province-wide photo contest.
“I think there was people that had a little more spare time on their hands, and hopefully spent it outside enjoying the outdoors. Certainly photography is one of our key areas in the province,” said Crabbee.
Jacobs’ first place finish was well-deserved, he said.
Each wildlife federation branch traditionally has its own photography competition, with separate wildlife and scenery categories.
“We have 125 branches in the province, so each branch usually has a number of photos that are submitted to them, and they usually have a voting system in place that determines the top two from each one of those branches,” said Crabbee.
It means there are hundreds of high-quality photos to choose from, creating a tough decision for the delegates who attended the SWF’s convention. They vote to decide the top six finishers in the two categories. Typically the convention attracts 200-225 people.
“We had a lot of great photos there, and it was probably a pretty tough decision on everyone’s behalf to try to pick two winners out of the group,” said Crabbe.
This year’s SWF convention was held digitally.
“We set up a gallery and had people go into the gallery and they picked their top winner. Then, of course, we tally all of those votes, and we’re able to pick from first to sixth,” said Crabbe.
The scenery photo can’t have any wildlife in it.
Jacobs believes she started with her photography in 1985. She always had an interest in the art form, but she lived on a farm and didn’t have a good camera. When she moved into Estevan, she found a quality camera and started to learn.
“I think I’m addicted to wildlife,” said Jacobs. “I’ve been to Africa, and I did a lot of photography. And I used to go to Alaska and photograph the bears, and I’ve gone to Churchill (Manitoba) once, because I’m kind of a bear person.”
Wildlife takes up most of her photography time. Many people in the South Sask. Photo Club enjoy taking photos of the Northern Lights and other scenery, but Jacobs loves wildlife.
The club hasn’t been able to have their monthly meetings at the Estevan Art Gallery and Museum due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but those who like to take photos of wildlife still meet up for an interesting afternoon of taking photos.
“You learn from each other,” said Jacobs. “I was just looking at a thing on the computer, with ideas of good things to learn for photography, and that was one of the keys, go out as a group, because you learn from each other.”