Photographers expand horizons in 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest 110311

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Photographers expand horizons in 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest 110311
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Image by familymwr
PHOTO CAPTION: Awarded 1st Place What’s for Dinner by PFC AMBER SMITH – Division 1 Active Duty Military

Photographers expand horizons in 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest 110311

By Tim Hipps
FMWRC Public Affairs

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Brenda Walker strolled upon “one of those right places at the right time” alongside East Fork Indian Creek River when she photographed “Morning Serenity” on Fort Campbell, Ky…

Retired Col. Richard Pugh shot three photographs of “Point Lobos,” just south of Monterey, Calif., and combined them into one image by working 15 minutes with Photoshop…

Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra won a footrace with his wife to the bottom of a stairwell at Heidelberg Castle in Germany just before he looked up and photographed “9”…

…all three were winners in the 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest sponsored by the Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command.

There were 3,691 entries from around the world – 1,348 in Division I for active duty military personnel and 2,343 in Division II for other eligible MWR patrons. After Army garrisons selected their best entries, 664 Division I and 1,031 Division II photographs were forwarded for Department of the Army judging.

“There were many really excellent photos, which made the judges’ decisions a difficult task,” said Linda Ezernieks, who monitors the annual contest at Army MWR Headquarters in Alexandria. “Originality, creativity and technical quality were the main criteria in making final selections.”

Winners in each category – animals, digital darkroom, design elements, military life, monochrome, nature & landscapes, people, and still life – were posted on a website where Army Knowledge Online account-holders voted for their favorite photo in each division.

Walker’s “Morning Serenity” took first place in the nature and landscapes category and was voted the most popular photograph in Division II.

The subject of the photo is a fisherman wading and casting in the middle of East Fork Indian Creek River while the sun shines through the lush, green trees and casts a rainbow-like appearance off the steam hovering above the stream.

“It’s back on Fort Campbell,” Walker said. “I take my dog running back there early morning. It was really hot and the steam was rising and the rays were going through the trees. It was absolutely beautiful back there.

“I take my camera everywhere I go now.”

Walker left her business card on the windshield of a truck parked nearby and later learned the fisherman was Sgt. Randy Shorter of Fort Campbell.

About five years ago, Walker took some of her photographs to the MWR Custom Framing Shop at Fort Campbell, where she found out about the Army Photography Contest. She has produced prize-winning photos for the past three contests.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get exposure, plus cash prizes,” said Walker, 48, a military family member. “I enjoy looking at everybody else’s work. It inspires me and motivates me to get out and get more interesting, different shots.”

What does Walker enjoy most about photography?

“Just being able to capture what I see through my eyes, my heart and my head,” she said. “A lot of it comes out through your emotion. It’s another form of art.”

Pugh, of Clarksville, Tenn., took first place in the Division II digital darkroom category with “The Owl,” second in design elements with “Blue Mosque,” and third in nature and landscapes with “Point Lobos.”

Pugh shot the high-tech looking photo of “The Owl” at Land Between The Lakes, a national recreation area located south of Paducah, Ky., and embellished it in Photoshop, as he did with “Blue Mosque,” a shot of the roof of a mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

“I like this contest,” said Pugh, 65, who photographed winning entries in each of the past three years after serving 30 years in the Army. “It gives people a chance to show off something they did, which is great.”

Piedro, 31, an Army recruiter in Douglasville, Ga., is a former combat photographer. His “9” earned first-place honors in the Division I design elements category. He took third place in digital darkroom with a self-portrait called “Beast within Me” that would make a dandy Halloween poster.

“I got the idea when I was in the gym working out with my partner and a couple people came up to us and said: ‘You guys are lifting like beasts.’ The idea just popped into my head, so I got home, took the shot, and just started editing,” Piedro said. “That’s where that photo came from.”

The subject of the photo looks like a cross between a werewolf, a vampire and an Avatar, complete with fangs, dagger-like fingernails and alien ears – seemingly howling at the moon that looms behind a naked tree.

“The fangs, the ears, the eyes and the hands are all Photoshopped,” Piedro said. “And the stomach that’s concaved a little bit, that was done in Photoshop. For the background, I took certain parts of images from other photos, adjusted them, and made everything into one image.”

So what’s real?

“The body, and the face,” Piedro replied. “That’s it.

“If you look closely, the eyes are actually black and the pupils are red, so that’s been Photoshopped.”

Piedro, however, does not think of himself as a Photoshop expert.

“I actually don’t do too much Photoshop,” he said. “I try to keep my images as pure as possible. But every now and then, I get my creative side and I do a little bit of Photoshop – just trial and error, playing around.”

Piedro won two categories and received an honorable mention in the 2007 Army Photography Contest but missed the competition the past two years.

“I think it’s a great, great program,” he said. “It’s a great way to get the creative process of people that do see the world and travel the world by being in the military, and not even just as Soldiers, but supporting staff, civilians, wives.

“It’s a great way to get recognition for something that we love to do.”

As is often the case with photography, Piedro did not know exactly what he shot that day in the stairwell to the gardens at Heidelberg Castle – until he downloaded the photo.

“When I got home and I looked at, I was like: ‘That’s 9, yeah.’ And that’s where the title came from.”

Piedro cherishes photography’s uncanny ability of giving him the opportunity of “freezing a moment in time that only I can see and sharing that with others.”

Several other military photographers earned multiple places in the 2010 Army Digital Photography Contest.

Holly Swegle of Fort Hood, Texas, took first place in Division II monochrome for “Dress Shop,” second in animals for “Painted Birds” and third in people for “American Woman.”

Lt. Col. Mark Bonica of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, took second in Division I still life with “Reflections in Soap,” third in monochrome with “… and We All Fall Down” and received an honorable mention in military life with “Free Gift When You Join Today.”

Staff Sgt. Brandon Quarterman of Fort Bliss, Texas, won the Division I popular vote contest for “Reaching Perfection,” which topped the still life category.


Here are the results of the top three finishers in each category with photographer’s rank, name, installation and photo title:

2010 Army Digital Photo Contest
Division I

Animals – 1. Pfc. Amber Smith, Yongsan, Korea, What’s for Dinner; 2. Staff Sgt. Wilberto Sierra, Fort Bliss, Texas, Dragonfly; 3. Staff Sgt. Robert Curtis, Vicenza, Italy, Tough Love.

Digital darkroom – 1. Spc. Thomas Mort, Fort Knox, Ky., Over the Top; 2. Sgt. Shawn Cassatt, Yongsan, Korea, On the Range; 3. Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra, Fort McPherson, Ga., Beast within Me.

Design elements – 1. Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra, Fort McPherson, Ga., 9; 2. 2nd Lt. Thomas Malejko, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., Arch Elements; 3. Lt. Col. David Tygart, Stuttgart, Germany, Sunset Under Glass.

Mililtary life – 1. Sgt. Darlene Martinez, Fort Drum, N.Y., The Sacrifices We Make; 2. Staff Sgt. Joey Suggs, Fort Meade, Md., Dental Care; 3. Sgt. Shawn Cassatt, Yongsan, Korea, Remember Me.

Monochrome – 1. Sgt. 1st Class Lance Widner, Mannheim, Germany, Great Grandmother; 2. Col. John Powers, Camp Zama, Japan, Calm Morning at Mount Fuji; 3. Lt. Col. Mark Bonica, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, … and We All Fall Down.

Nature & landscapes – 1. 1st Lt. Christopher Snell, (unknown location), Sunset Swim; 2. Spc. Juan-Pablo Marin, Fort Benning, Ga., Moon Set; 3. Spc. Jenny Lu, Hohenfels, Germany, Hong Kong at Night.

People – 1. Capt. David Callender, (unknown location), Anna’s Dream; 2. Lt. Col. David Tygart, Stuttgart, Germany, Eval Fairy; 3. Col. Joseph Mancy, Stuttgart, Germany, Eyes that Speak.

Still life – 1. Staff Sgt. Brandon Quarterman, Fort Bliss, Texas, Reaching Perfection; 2. Lt. Col. Mark Bonica, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Reflections in Soap; 3. Warrant Officer Larry Olson, Wiesbaden, Germany, Sunflower in Contrast.

Division II

Animals – 1. Susan Doran, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., Defiance; 2. Holley Swegle, Fort Hood, Texas, Painted Birds; 3. Eric Armstrong, Camp Zama, Japan, Man O’ War.

Digital darkroom – 1. Col. Richard Pugh, Fort Campbell, Ky., The Owl; 2. Stephen Cullum, Stuttgart, Germany, Volksfest FDR; 3. Gary Cashman, Yongsan, Korea, BMX Composite.

Design elements – 1. Robert LaPolice, Selfridge, Mich., Just Riveting; 2. Col. Richard Pugh, Fort Campbell, Ky., Blue Mosque; 3. James Holbrook, Stuttgart, Germany, What do I call this.

Military life – 1. Nell Williams, Fort Stewart, Ga., My Dad, My Hero; 2. Rebecca Colburn, Fort Carson, Colo., The Test Drive; 3. Ann Marie Detavernier, Baumholder, Germany, The Love Letter.

Monochrome – 1. Holly Swegle, Fort Hood, Texas, Dress Shop; 2. Barbara Underwood, Fort Lee, Va., Light and Shadows; 3. Jeffrey Kline, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Texas Snow.

Nature & landscapes – 1. Brenda Walker, Fort Campbell, Ky., Morning Serenity; 2. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Ash Clouds over Holland; 3. Col. Richard Pugh, Fort Campbell, Ky., Point Lobos.

People – 1. Sherry Keene Hobbs, Garmisch, Germany, Belly Dancer; 2. Eugenia Whittenburg, Fort Shafter, Hawaii, Happy Beach Feet; 3. Holly Swegle, Fort Hood, Texas, American Woman.

Still life – 1. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, Green Tomato; 2. Michael Slone, Fort Meade, Md., Morning Coffee; 3. Frank Leon, Fort Knox, Ky., The faucet chronicles.

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Another Perspective on Bosque del Apache
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Image by Sam Antonio Photography
Get ready for an experience of a lifetime! Arriving 40 minutes before sunrise, I waited in the cold pre-dawn for the daily ritual of the fly-out of the snow geese. The geese roost in the ponds overnight to protect themselves from predators and then fly-out in mass in the morning just as the sun rises to go to their feeding areas.

Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM

Mention the word "Bosque" to any bird photographer and they will instantly know you are talking about the mecca for bird photography in the United States. Every year from November to February, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is home to thousands of migrating sandhill cranes and snow geese for the winter. Located in San Antonio, New Mexico and a little over an hour drive south of Albuquerque, Bosque del Apache will enliven your senses and put your photography skills to the test.

It is also home to professional and well-funded amateurs photographers who migrate to Bosque for unique photo opportunities. In particular, the breathtaking experience of the predawn fly-out of tens of thousands snow geese.

As primarily a landscape and cityscape photographer I chose to go to Bosque to challenge and expand my photography skills. After my first day of shooting it became apparent I had some shortcomings. Bosque is one place where your camera equipment is as important as the person behind it. This is where top-notch professional camera bodies and fast super telephoto lens dominate. While the Canon 600mm f/4 lens is a popular lens with bird photographers, most photographers I talked with used the Canon 500mm f/4 lens because of its lighter weight and ease of use on the credit card (for the price of one Canon 600mm f/4 lens one can buy 18 iPhones).

The longest lens I was shooting with was with my Canon 100-400mm, but with limitations comes creativity. Most photos you see of Bosque del Apache are sharp portraits of the wildlife. My approach was to portray more environmental portraits of not only the wildlife but also man and nature.

Overall, I had a great time shooting at Bosque minus the cold weather (at dawn it was in the mid-teens). Now if Santa would kindly deliver the Canon 600mm f/4 lens for Christmas I would consider going back and braving the cold!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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4 04 Atitlan
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Image by Kalense Kid
Dawn breaks. Lake Atitlán surfaces grey haze. Beatific bonzes beam on beds. Chakras shine on urinating man. It is too early. I lie in bed. I read The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts. Heavenly guardians sneak glimpses over my shoulder.

A bell bongs. It is breakfast. It is 9 o’clock. Meal times are rigid. Pranayogic power-lifters queue for kiwi. Papaya and banana provide pulp and savour. Granola and yoghurt are texture and taste.

The breakfast is excellent. The coffee is cryptic. It is caffeinated. We eat outside. Flies swarm. I swat. I think about reincarnation as a dipteran. I judge that mediocre karma. You could do worse. You could come back as Halicephalobus mephisto. I swat. Flies swarm. Sun sears.

We walk west. We wobble on stilted duckboards. We peer through clear water below our duckboards. Metres down wall-tops glimmer. Lake Atitlán fills a caldera. It is endorheic. Rain falls in the caldera. The lake rises. Drought comes. The lake falls. Cycles are irregular. They are measured in decades and centuries. Mayan ruins lie hundreds of metres down.

The lake rises. It has risen many metres in the last decade. Rickety duckboards link lakefront properties. Below the water ex-lawns linger. The duckboards end. The path skirts high waters. It climbs through rocks.

Jason and Alison confer. They think the path is above us. A pine wood clings to steep slopes. Jason scrambles up unstable pyroclastics. He finds a path. He is high above us. We climb. Luna fares well. She has four legs.

We turn along the path. We clear the pine wood. The sun blisters. The lake spreads out beneath us. Lake surface greys to nothing. The horizon is haze.

We walk. Walls and hedges cut off the view. Gardens lie green unseen above and below. The path winds and weaves. Closed doors left and right maintain discretion.

The path drops through gardens left and right. We reach the lakeshore. We turn along a wooden wharf. Fiberglass boats float fettered. Men haul and heave. Cement sacks come ashore. Santa Cruz La Lagun metabolises.

We enter a lakeside bistro. La Iguana Perdita has a toilet. It is time. Laurie and Jenny disappear in turn.

We are weary. A fibreglass launch takes us to San Marcos. It bumps and slams. Jenny holds her camera high. She films. I try looking through my viewfinder. My camera bumps and slams. My eyebrow will recover.

San Marcos is Hippie Haven. Alison and Jason stayed here for a month. That was two years ago. They stayed at Las Piramides. It is a spiritual centre. They show us the house they lived in. It is surrounded by bananas and papayas. It is surrounded by vegetation being exuberant.

We wander through the village. It is dedicated to spirit. Notice boards peel tantric rituals and reiki. Iridology and naturopathy could be yours. Medicinal plants and tantric yoga. Marta gives theraputic acupressure massage. Tjka Sonko is a healer in Paris actually in San Marcos . He offers Chineese medicine initiation course. He offers Specials Healings Theraipes. And more. Visit your Futur.

We get our first sight of hippies. They obey a strict dress code.

We climb uphill. The Ganesh store is new. It was not here in Alison and Jason’s day. It has Indian saris with pictures of Hindu gods. It has a Galactic Time Map. It is a practical map to get in sync with the galactic fractals of time. We are deep in fruitloopery country.

It has a book exchange. Faded colours fur into fuzzy latte. Unwanted books beg to be swapped for others less readable still. Jeffery Archer. Dan Brown. Harlan Coben. I cannot find Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Or Anne Enright. But I see Ethical Issues in Business. I wonder what it is doing in this shop. Then I see the subtitle. A Philosophical Approach. I am enlightened.

Jenny buys Paolo santo. Apparently you burn it. It clears bad energy. It provides spiritual protection. It brings good luck. It is Bursera graveolens.

The Guatemalan San Marcos lies above us. Mayans know the lake rises.

We hear drumming. We walk uphill. It gets louder. It is a children’s marching band. They stop practising and disband.

Loana of the Shell Tribe walks past. She wears colourful boots and a loincloth. Perhaps it is Barbarella. I should consult the galactic fractals to be sure.

We wander to the lakeshore. We take a fibreglass collectivo to San Pedro. As we unload I see Loanarella’s loincloth. She walks away in colourful boots.

We slope uphill. We level and levitate. We find an Italian restaurant with internet access. It is late. We order late lunch. Men drink cold beer. Women sip pulpy colours. We internet.

Laurie finds the BBC website. He wants to know what social class we belong to. He subjects us to tests. I am technical middle class. I am none the wiser.

The owner has better things to do. Places to go, stuff like that. He throws us out at 15:00.

We forage for foccacio. We find avocadoes and bread and tomatoes. We source rum and marshmallows. Laurie finds a cash machine. Tuk-tuks travail up straight-up streets.

We assemble slowly on the waterfront. We wait for a collectivo to come.

Alison and Jason and I sit in a tumbledown café. We order coffee. The man wanders off up the street. We wait. Coffee comes. The launch arrives. We gulp dreadful coffee. We board. Loanarella sits in the middle. The crush surrounds her. We are heavily overloaded. Water laps at freeboard.

We chug over the lake. Wavetops sweep past. They are centimetres below swamp-level. The collectivo droops and swoops. It labours heavily. It rolls from side to side. We chug from jetty to jetty. People climb on at each jetty. The only space is on the roof. We pick up more people. The roof is full. The boat slews from crest to trough. It struggles back, and thuds.

Alison, Laurie and Jenny feel seasick. We ponder collapsed roofs. We think about escape. It would not happen.

We arrive at Iguana. A,L and J have had enough. We disembark. We leave Loanarella and her loincloth. We do not say farewell. Galactic fractals will have to deal.

We walk up through garden walls and closed doors. We walk up over the shoulder. We walk into the ravine. We duckboard. I take pictures of drowned trees. We walk back to Villa Somaya.

We hot tub. Not Wendy is there. Not Wendy is not Bendy Wendy. She is Dizzy Lizzie. Or maybe I mix my bendies with my dizzies. I am easily confused. Passion Flower arrives. When A, J, L, J arrive, Not Wendy or Wendy leaves. Passion flower like wow floaty explains passion flower ceremony. We groove.

We dine on guacamole. We eat on Alison and Jason’s balcony. One bottle of rum seems not to be enough. Jason tries to get another. He returnes bereft. All is silent in the world below.

I go to bed. I compose a ditty.

When I’m feeling somewhat glum
I’ll pick up my shaman’s drum
And with my thumb I’ll softly strum
Om mane padme hum.

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