As is often the case with great photos, a Maine entry in the prestigious National Wildlife Federation’s annual photography competition came somewhat by chance.

“I shot it back in 2008,” said John Theberge, 53, an amateur photographer from Lewiston. “I have a photo blog, and during summer of 2008, I was featuring roadside wildflowers. One day in late July, I was driving down Route 196 and noticed a huge batch of black-eyed Susans in an empty lot. In the middle of this batch of black-eyed Susans was this lone pink flower.

“I set up my camera thinking the pink flower with an out-of-focus yellow background would make for a nice photo.”

He was right about that. But his nice photo became a truly remarkable photo when a hoverfly approached the pink blossom.

“I saw it hovering around the flower, and it just landed there,” he said.

The resulting image claimed the top spot in the “other wildlife” category of the photo contest’s amateur division, for which Theberge won an iPad 2. The awards were announced by the National Wildlife Federation earlier this month.

Theberge has taken photos for most of his life. He maintains a photography blog at and has self-published a book, “A Pictorial Guide to Maine’s Roadside Wildflowers.”

He has won photography contests before, but never anything as prestigious as the National Wildlife Federation contest. The federation has celebrated the wonders of the natural world through the contest for 41 years. Almost 27,000 photos were submitted, according to the federation’s website.

“Some of this year’s winning photos allow us to be voyeurs of moments of discovery, when the speed of the camera exceeded the eye of the beholder to reveal behaviors, abilities and acrobatics of animals we otherwise would not see,” the contest website says.

“Others display nature’s beauty at its best or convey magical morsels of much greater stories that tell what the photographers did to get these amazing images — a taste of which we share with you here.”

This is the third time Theberge has entered the contest. The first time, in the 1980s, he was just getting serious about photography. He entered what he thought were great photos, but they did not garner attention. He entered again in the 1990s and made it as far as the semifinal round.

This time, he won.

“Third time’s a charm,” he said.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes