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Alumnus Darrell Staggs Earns Third Place Among 18,000 National Park Photo Contest Entries

May 5, 2014

Staggs Portrait 2

Creative Engineer: Darrell Staggs, a 1978 chemical engineering alumnus and associate engineering advisor at Eli Lilly and Company, started taking photographs while traveling.

     Rose-Hulman alumnus and amateur photographer Darrell Staggs has earned third-place honors in the National Park Foundation's 2013 Share the Experience Photo Contest, recognizing among 18,000 entries. The prize winners were announced May 1 on CBS The Morning and also featured on ABC’s Good Morning America.

     Staggs' photograph showcases a hiker, who looks to be walking along the dangerous edge of a sheer cliff in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area of Utah.

     However, looks can be deceiving.

     In this case, Staggs, a 1978 chemical engineering graduate and associate engineering advisor at Eli Lilly and Company, produced an optical illusion by being in the right place at the right time, capturing a hiker walking along a pool of water that is perfectly still and reflecting the canyon walls behind it. The photo was taken near Lake Powell in an area sheltered from any wind.

Staggs Award -winning Photo

Award-Winning Photograph: Darrell Staggs’ beautiful photograph in the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area of Utah earned third-place honors in the National Park Foundation's 2013 Share the Experience Photo Contest.

     “The sun was rapidly descending towards the horizon and lighting was changing every minute,” Staggs explains to Caters News Agency. “At this time of day, you can sit in a single spot and take an ever-changing set of images of the same subject.

     “Even though I know the image well, and have looked at it hundreds of times, it remains an elusive illusion—not all spectacular shots are obvious,” he says.

     It took the Share the Experience Contest judging team a moment or two to figure out exactly what they were looking at.

     “Not all spectacular shots are obvious,” says Staggs, who never thought of himself as an artist, but always liked the idea of photography.

     In the later stages of his career as an associate engineering advisor at Eli Lilly and Company, and after raising his family, Staggs started taking photographs while traveling. He paid close attention to the textures and perspective in natural scenery, especially rock formations found in regions of America’s southwest.

     “The lens of a camera in the right hands at the right place can capture the majesty and magic of America’s national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other treasured landscapes,” Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell told Caters. “I encourage all Americans to explore these inspiring places that refresh our bodies and souls.”

     View other photographs taken by Staggs at http://reflectiononanillusion.smugmug.com/