Joliet resident Michelle Wendling was in the right place at the right time to capture a stunning sunset photo at Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Nature Preserve in Plainfield. Her photo was selected as the September winner in the Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Preserve the Moment photo contest. Judges were impressed with the photo’s composition and colors.

“I love going for a walk at Lake Renwick because it is one of the best places to see a gorgeous sunset over the water,” Wendling said in an email. “On this particular night I was not expecting anything special because of the clouds, but the weather cleared up just enough on the horizon to make it almost look like it was on fire. It was memorable!” Wendling said she began visiting Will County forest preserves around four years ago. “I quit smoking and needed an activity to help with anxiety,” she said. “I have found walking in nature to be very relaxing, but also exciting to see all the seasonal changes and animals.”

Honorable mentions for September were awarded to: Michael Daley of Lemont, Michael Fagan of Frankfort, Mark Hanna of Romeoville and Matt Serafini of Lockport. All of the contest’s photo entries can be viewed on the District’s Flickr page, Wendling’s photo will compete with eight other monthly finalists for overall honors after the contest concludes on Dec. 31. The top three finishers will be determined by voting at The overall winners will receive MasterCard gift cards worth $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $150 for third place. Monthly winners receive $75 gift cards. The photo contest is sponsored by The Nature Foundation of Will County.

For more information on the contest, including the rules and a submission link, visit