PEPPERELL -- Shooting photos of plants and animals, Noah Bagley pictures the world differently.
The 13-year-old Pepperell student has gained national recognition for his skills as a photographer, despite only jumping into the field as a hobby this summer.
The Nissitissit eighth-grader has discovered a way to capture his love of the outdoors, preserving it without affecting it. As a finalist in the youth category for the prestigious National Audobon Society's annual photo contest, Bagley introduced himself to the two worlds -- that of photographers and that of naturalists.
Bagley's photo "Reach for the Sky" was moved to the final round of judging in the 18-year-old and under category, one of only five finalists to advance from a group that saw nearly 8,000 photos submitted for this year's contest. He has five more years of eligibility in that division and a lifetime to improve on his already noteworthy talent.
"He has natural and innate skills," said his mother Alison. But, she added, it is a wider range of attributes than natural skills that accounts for his success.
"He spends hours looking at other photographers' work online and learning new tips," she said. Then, amid the school work, saxophone practice and myriad outdoor and family activities, he practices photography using trial and error as well as experimentation.
Bagley's interest in the outdoors extends beyond the lens and precedes the camera by a decade. As a family, the Bagleys have hiked 47 of New Hampshire's 48 4,000-foot mountains, with only Mt.
Alison speaks of Noah's adventurous spirit, taking massive risks with the hope of equal rewards.
"Some of the hiking trails have fences in spots to keep people from going off the edge. He is not afraid to climb over that fence to get the best view or the best shot," she said.
"I shoot mostly nature," Noah said, his Canon Rebel in hand. "It is a hand-me-down from my parents."
Both Alison and Keith Bagley have an interest in photography -- and in nature -- so Noah's success comes partly as a matter of genetics. He persuaded them to buy a new camera so that he could adopt theirs and from there a fascination developed.
He talks of f-stops and depth-of-field like a gamer speaks of zombie-killing, each adept at harmless shooting. When he is not snapping shots he is shooting a soccer ball or ski-racing. He is not sure if professional photography is in his future but he will always have that bird in hand.
Another one of his photographs, "Mossy Cascade" was chosen Best of Show, out of 250 entrants., at this week's NH Audobon Wild's Photography Contest. It will be on display at Massabesic Center from Oct. 17 to Nov. 24.