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Construction Supervisor's Photo Stands Alone in National Geographic

Jul. 31--Glen Dettmer was photographing bugs, birds and flowers with a small digital camera for about two months before his family convinced him one shot was special.

So special that it landed in National Geographic. (Check it out at

A Fort Lauderdale motel room is not a typical setting for a photograph featured in a magazine famed for its breathtaking shots from around the world.

But his motel room is where Dettmer staged the shot, a portrait of nature so compelling in composition and light that a National Geographic photo editor said, "It looks like a painting."

Pausing from yardwork recently at his Goldenrod-area home, the 43-year-old construction-site supervisor expressed surprise at his success. Since the July issue of the magazine came out, Dettmer has received requests for his photograph from as far away as Texas and Washington state.

"I liked the picture when I did it, but I didn't think it would get the attention it got," said Dettmer, who moved to Central Florida from England a decade ago.

Dettmer has the sturdy build of a football player. And he did play football -- American football, not soccer -- for years in England. A small gold hoop hangs from his right ear. He rolls his own cigarettes. When asked about other artistic endeavors, he points out his heavily tattooed forearms.

"I was pretty good at art in school," Dettmer said. "I'm always being told I'm wasting my talents. I have to be in the mood to do it."

The mood struck Dettmer on April 4 after he finished his day's work installing a walk-in clinic in Fort Lauderdale. Dettmer's boss had given him a compact Canon digital camera for before-and-after photos at job sites.

In addition to taking work pictures, Dettmer set up a little studio in his motel room to pass the time away from home.

He picked up a leafy stem from a plant covered with grasshoppers near the job site. He grabbed a grasshopper, too, and added a length of vine and a couple of snails.

On his room's desk, Dettmer stuck the stem into a Pepsi bottle and perched the grasshopper on its leaf. The vine dangled from a wall sconce, and Dettmer placed the snail a tantalizing few inches from the grasshopper.

A green square of construction paper stuck to the wall served as a backdrop. A small tripod held the camera.

When Dettmer loaded the photo to his laptop, he knew he had something special. He titled the snail-grasshopper encounter "Friends Meet 1."

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