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WHS sweeps regional photography competition

Laura Grevas/Daily Globe Seven Worthington High School students competed at the Southwest Minnesota Technical Skills Challenge Thursday at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Canby. Pictured are (front row, left to right) sophomore Heather Loy, senior Kelsey Ray, senior Susana Murillo; back row: sophomore Jonah Oberloh, junior Brook Luing and senior Laura Huls. Not pictured is senior Danny Khounthavong.

CANBY -- These seven amateur photographers are very focused.

Well, their images are, anyway.

The group of Worthington High School students competed Thursday in the Southwest Minnesota Technical Skills Challenge in Canby --and they swept all three places.

Senior Laura Huls took first with her bicycle-themed photographs; sophomore Jonah Oberloh placed second with his images of Arizona; and sophomore Heather Loy took third with her "Vegas" collection.

"I took all the classes in photography that were possible at the high school. That's just kind of how I got into it," explained Huls. Her favorite subjects are "old, junky things" and small children.

The students said they spent "many, many hours" outside of school preparing for the competition. They filtered out their best shots and organized them into a theme. Then, students adjusted the images using Adobe Photoshop, printed them and mounted them on poster board.

Susana Murillo needed to do research for her project "Worthington at Work."

"I captured different jobs in Worthington," she explained. "I had to go around and ask permission at the different businesses first."

Murillo even convinced a local police officer to pose near her car and write a fake ticket so she could capture him in action.

The students presented their images to photographer Jon Wood, who owns Up North Images in Marshall.

"He asked us questions we should know about our posters," said junior Brooke Luing. Then, he experimented with their photographs using Photoshop. "We could tell him if we liked it better the way he did it, or the way we had it," Luing said.

Photographs were judged on the basis of quality, creativity, poster display and presentation.

Art teacher Tricia Mikle was pleased the students' work was rewarded with an impressive showing at the competition.

"We had a happy trip home on the bus," she said. "They worked extremely hard to get good images. They went above and beyond."

Mikle said the school's classes and the competition show students additional opportunities in the field of art.

"I know that I've had students return and visit who are now pursuing a career in photography," she said, adding a note of enthusiasm for the 30 computers in the WHS art laboratory and the industry-standard software students are able to use.

"I cannot think of better administrative support for teachers to have tools that the industry uses," she said.