Augusta man a photo contest finalist

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When Ray Lee heard about the Nature Conservancy’s digital photo contest, he decided to enter but didn’t expect much to come from it.

“I just kind of did it on a whim,” said Lee, who lives in Augusta.

Lee was quite surprised when he found out his photo of two fox cubs nuzzling each other was picked as a finalist in the contest.

Lee shot the photo in late April near Augusta.

“I’d been watching them,” he said of the foxes. “They den there every year.”

Photography is a hobby Lee more or less fell into.

“My wife bought a camera for taking pictures of the kids during sports, and it just sort of grew from there,” he said.

Each year, The Nature Conservancy’s annual photography contest receives 20,000 to 30,000 submissions.

“I felt pretty lucky just to be considered,” Lee said.

The grand prize winner in the contest was a photo of a heron and a red-winged blackbird in flight shot in British Columbia, Canada, by Tulus Simatupang of Burnaby, B.C.

The Nature Conservancy, based in Arlington, Va., is a conservation organization that works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters.

Lee’s photograph shares the honor with four other entries including one of a colorful lilac-breasted roller bird shot in Kenya, an autumn scene in Utah, three piping plover chicks and a moose standing in a Colorado lake.

Fourteen honorable mentions also were named.

The five finalist photos, including Lee’s, will appear in the Nature Conservancy’s 2015 calendar, with the grand-prize winner on the cover.

To see all the winning photos, visit my.nature.org/photography.

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