The Buzz Magazines 2019 Photo Contest
After reviewing more than 1,500 submitted images, we are pleased to present the winners of The Buzz Magazines’ 14th annual photo contest. Congratulations to all and especially to our Grand Prize winner, Claire Zurek, who will receive a Nikon Coolpix W300 Camera, compliments of Houston Camera Exchange. With any contest like this, the process is subjective. However, there are basic principles of photography that must be met, such as lighting, focus, exposure and composition. And there are personal elements to consider: subject, emotion and storytelling. Judging is “blind,” as the judges do not see names or any information about the photographers.
We also let our readers vote. We posted the 58 finalists on our Facebook page, and the photos that received the most “Likes” became our Readers’ Choice winners. The Buzz Magazines’ annual photo contest is open to all amateur photographers, so keep that in mind as you are shooting pictures in the upcoming year. Watch for next year’s call for entries on our website, social media and in the March 2020 print issue. Thanks to everyone who entered, our judges, our readers who voted online, and our contest sponsor, Houston Camera Exchange.
And the ump says..., Grand Prize Winner Claire Zurek, 46, took this photo April 2 at her son’s SBMSA American League Pee Wee game at the Memorial Middle School fields. “While focusing on close plays at first base, I snapped Will Newhouse (Aggies) and Whit Patterson (Beavers) in a full-speed collision while umpire Jacob Graham and pitcher Hunter Edmonds (Beavers) attentively watched to determine whether the play was ‘safe’ or ‘out.’ I love ‘freezing’ outdoor sports action in order to capture players’ expressions and passion while they are giving the sport their full effort. I equally love creating the keepsakes for my kids and others.” This photo also received fourth place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
What the Judges Said:
“This is a rare moment that only a camera with a competent photographer behind it can capture. It happens too fast for the human brain to absorb. The momentary physical contact recorded a reaction so fleeting that a bystander would only remember a blur. This image is a marvel of technology and attentiveness that is one in a million and fully justifies its accolades.” – Bob Gomel
“Photographers will tell you that anticipation, timing and spontaneity are deciding factors in getting the image. This is the case with this photograph! The technical aspects are very sound as well. All these factors clicked (no pun intended) to make an award winner.” – Butch Hall
“This is a perfect example of ‘the decisive moment,’ as the photographer not only froze the action completely, he/she had such a wonderful angle to capture the expressions on the boy’s faces at ‘the moment of impact.’ The ump in the background is intensely watching in anticipation of making the correct call, and even the first baseman’s teammate is watching to see who got to the base first. Just a cute, cute picture with a lot of emotion, executed extremely well.” – Michael Hart
“This image was chosen for complete storytelling. From the adult umpire to the Beaver team member watching the base to the final collision of energy, all a wonderful story of action, emotion, color, composition and proper exposure that the viewer gets to enjoy.” – Nikky LaWell
Unknown, Second Place/People Peter Deleef, 47, took this photo in Monterrey, Mexico, in October 2018 at a wedding. He said the family was looking at something outside the window that he couldn’t see. “I was curious and wanted to convey that lack of knowing.” He said he had to set the exposure to blow out everything outside the window but still capture the detail of the family.
Gravity, Fourth Place/People Maya Kanani, 19, took this photo of herself and her boyfriend, Chris, with a tripod and a timer. She took this photo as part of an assignment for a documentary photography class. The assignment was to take a self-portrait in a way that documents the students’ true selves. “I wanted to include him in the photo because he is an important part of my life and who I am. It's a pretty straightforward image and essentially just features us ‘dancing’ in his kitchen. I wanted to use the vantage point I did because it makes the camera or audience look through the doorway to see the subjects (us).” The photo was taken over her spring break when she was visiting Houston; she attends UT Austin, and Chris lives in Houston. Maya is a graduate of Bellaire High School.
Sea Caves of Costa Rica, First Place/Nature Morgan Bernard, 25, took this photo of a sea cave off the coast of Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica in the summer of 2018. “The way the cave framed the sea and the texture of the wind on the water made the photo opportunity irresistible. Our boat had stopped on a tiny island that had a keyhole-shaped cave at the end of the beach. I grabbed my camera and went to explore the cave. To get this particular photo, I had to wade through waist-deep water to the other side of the cave. The cloudy sky created a dramatic background, while the wind and cave wall provided a textured foreground.”
World Team Foosball Champions, Third Place/People Bradley Sabloff, 50, took this photo of kids playing a game of foosball. His son, Chase (center), was celebrating his sixth birthday while vacationing on a cruise ship in August 2018. “I took the photo in an attempt to capture their sheer joy. As was the case when I took the photo, their happiness is contagious. One can't help but smile when looking at the photo.”
100 Meters, Fourth Place/Sports and Action Timothy Childs, 66, took this photo at the start of the university division high hurdles at the Texas Relays in Austin. The runner in the center is Jerome Butler, University of Arkansas. “The tendency in sports photography is to use fast shutter speeds to freeze the action and blur the background. In this photo, I used a much slower shutter speed and panned on the runner’s head to get the ‘blurred’ effect.”
Isolation, First Place/Landscapes Darren Inoff, 51, took this photo of a “lone tree isolated in the snow covered mountains” near Aspen, Colo., in January 2019. “We went snowmobiling in the mountains hunting for photo opportunities. I came upon this single tree rising out of the snow and loved the isolation of the tree with the contrast between the light and dark colors.”
Great Egrets During Breeding Season, First Place/Animals Ying Chun Jerry Pan, 78, took this photo of a pair of great egrets attempting to build a nest on a dead tree at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary, March 15, 2018. “A third great egret is flying by. In the past, nests were successfully built on the tree. This time, the tree does not have enough branches to securely support a nest. Eventually, their nest collapses, and they abandon the tree.” He said the breeding season lasts from March to July and the long, delicate plumes on the backs appear only during breeding season. “As a bird photography enthusiast, I frequently visit Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary to photograph nesting great egrets, roseate spoonbills and other birds.”
On Deck, First Place/Sports and Action Patrick Bergin, 54, took this photo of his daughter Emily Bergin, shortstop for the Macalester College softball team. “I have had the fun of chronicling Emily's softball career from when she first started playing for WUSA back in 2006. Generally, I only shoot games using a longer prime lens such as a 200mm or 300mm. However, I knew I was going to have to shoot through a chain-linked fence..., so I brought along my 50mm lens. I could take photos of the players hitting without the chain-links noticeable to the camera (and the subsequent exposure) by stopping down to f/1.6. When Emily came on deck, I thought, why not get a photo of her standing on deck, watching the pitcher she is about to face. Emily had no idea I took this photo until she came back from school. I put a framed copy of it in her bedroom as a surprise.” Emily is a graduate of Saint Thomas’ Episcopal School.
Into the Deep, Fourth Place/Animals Scott Kinsel, 41, took this photo of researchers from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy as a shark named Lucy swims by. “She is well known in these areas because of her massive size and injured caudal fin.” The photo was taken off of Guadalupe Island in November 2018. “It has always been on my bucket list to photograph the world’s apex predators. Great whites are at the top of that list. This particular trip was fairly difficult, roughly a 16-hour journey one way. You don’t leave the boat for 7 days. When it’s time to dive, they send you down in the cages where you wait, sometimes hours, for the sharks to show up.”
Monticello Garden, Second Place/Nature Lanette Johnson, 45, took this photo of wildflowers (Culver’s root) while exploring the grounds and gardens at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate. She was one of the chaperones with the Veritas Christian Academy’s seventh-grade class trip to Washington, DC. “The gardens at Monticello are filled with beautiful flowers. These wildflowers caught my eye as they were all swaying in the breeze. I waited for the wind to calm down to get a good photo,” she said. She added: “Our boys, Luke (13) and Joseph (11) have both had winning photos in The Buzz Photo Contest. I have entered photos for many years but have never been a finalist. The boys seem to underestimate how difficult it is to be a finalist since you are competing against some amazing photographers and thousands of entries. I am thrilled to have a photo make it in as a finalist.”
Just between us, First Place/People Matt Bennett, 42, took this photo of his cousins-in-law, Casey and Palmer Whiting, sharing a private moment at another cousin’s wedding, Sept. 8, 2018, at Birmingham Country Club in Alabama. He said there’s a hidden balcony above the ballroom that’s perfect for taking photos of big weddings. He took this shot because it was a pretty environment – and is also the same place where he and his wife had their wedding.
Shall We Dance?, Fourth Place/Nature Mauricio Recinos, 48, took this photo last year. “We decided to take a walk with my mom, and I remember taking my camera ‘just in case.’ In some bushes I saw this pair of hoverflies. They were moving slowly together. I took my camera and tried to get close a couple of times, but they kept moving. Finally I was able to catch them for just a moment while they appear to float in the air. I took a few shots the best I could, thinking the pictures were going to come out blurry. When I looked at the pictures in my computer all of them did, except one. They hoverflies look like they are dancing. I am glad I took my camera with me, ‘just in case…’”
Red Raider Run, Third Place/Sports and Action Matt Bennett, 42, took this photo of Parker Ford, a second grader at Second Baptist, on the Post Oak Little League Peewee field on April 26, 2019. “Second base on that field makes neat photos,” he said.
Magnificent Phidippus Jumping Spider, Third Place/Nature Kathy Miller-Fujimoto, 57, said, “In one of the potted plants, on a flower bud, was a small spider, about the size of my ring fingernail, spinning his magic. He was an active little fellow. And handsome, too. Those eyes! Those tusks! I began to snap pictures. At the time I was not well versed in Macro, or spiders, and the resulting photos were as flat as the hairs on the spider’s thinly tufted head. I resolved to do better. I learned he was a Phidippus Jumping Spider. I began looking for ‘Spidey’ every day. He proved elusive, and difficult to shoot as lighting conditions were less than ideal and my techniques were hardly refined. At times I would go long weeks without seeing him. On the morning of July 10, 2018, I spotted him, and all the months of practice came together. Spidey disappeared forever not long afterward. To this day, I miss his visits. But I’m a better photographer for him having entered my life. He opened my eyes to life’s small treasures so easily overlooked or misunderstood – even feared – and for that I’ll always remember him.”
Surfer in Stride, Second Place/Sports and Action Morgan Bernard, 25, took this photo of his friend German surfing in northern Nicaragua in the winter. “I had been surfing all day and took a break to watch the sunset. German was surfing particularly well, so I grabbed a camera and started to shoot. The sunset had backlit the surf in a way that made every wave glow. German's surfing is a spectacle in itself, so watching him surf in front of such a picturesque backdrop was the perfect photo op.”
Here it comes, Third Place/Landscapes Mauricio Recinos, 48, took this photo last summer at Galveston. “It was a partially cloudy day, and it looked like a storm was coming. I saw a beach house and a big cloud over it. The cloud looked like it was about to swallow the house as it moved with the wind. In the distance a few lightning [strikes] were visible. I grabbed my camera and took the shot. The cloud looked majestic. I converted the image to black and white, and I liked it because it added drama to the scene.”
Evening Wind, Second Place/Landscapes Matthew Griffiths, 45, took this photo on March 28, 2019 of a “windmill after sunset on a windy evening with clouds racing by” at Seminole Canyon State Park west of Del Rio. “I was camping at Seminole Canyon State Park to take some night star photographs, and the light and clouds were perfect for this blue hour windmill photograph. I have photographed this windmill multiple times, and I will return later this year to photograph it with the Milky Way.” The photo was taken with a Nikon D850 and Samyang 14mm lens at f/2.8, 30 seconds at ISO-800.
Bald Eagles Fighting for a Fish, Third Place/Animals Ying Chun Jerry Pan, 78, took this photo of a juvenile bald eagle (left) and a nearly mature bald eagle (right) fighting for a fish at Conowingo Dam in November. “Bald eagles congregate at the dam to fish during fall migration. Sometimes, an attempt to steal a fish is made, and the bald eagles perform spectacular aerobatic maneuvers as the fish is contested. As a bird-photography enthusiast, I visited Conowingo Dam to attend Conowingo Eagles Day.”
Bevo, Second Place/Animals Halle Brazda, 20, took this photo of Bevo XV (The University of Texas at Austin's mascot) and a member of the Silver Spurs (a student who takes care of Bevo) at the Tulsa vs. Texas football game Sept. 8, 2018 at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. This was the first year that UT had young Bevo run out of smoke before football games, and this Tulsa game was the first home game of the season. “It was the first time this new tradition took place. I knew that I had to capture the action, so I set myself up right in front of the tunnel where he would be walking out of and was leaning against the field goal post. He kind of jumped and charged right after the photo was taken, so I had to run away immediately after! It's one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken. I just love how Bevo is almost appearing out of thin air!” Halle is an incoming senior at UT and a graduate of The Kinkaid School. This photo also received second place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Sand Dunes at Sunrise, Fourth Place/Landscapes Joe Naccache, 62, took this photo of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes just after sunrise during a visit to Death Valley National Park, Calif., in January 2018. “This was my first visit to Death Valley National Park. I was struck by the diversity of the park’s landscapes – harsh desert, volcanic badlands, arid mountains, salt flats, and sand dunes. Winds sweeping across the valley sculpt sinuous shapes in the sand, particularly gorgeous at sunrise and sunset when the light infuses them with color. I took this photo in the early morning after a couple of unusually rainy days. When I arrived before sunrise, a dense fog blanketed the entire valley. I couldn’t see more than five feet in front of me. After a difficult 40-minute hike, I made my way through the fog to the top of the sand dunes and waited for the sun to rise and burn off the fog. At last the sun came out, painting the dunes gold. A strip of fog remained trapped on the horizon between the dunes and the mountains. In that moment, a magical landscape stretched before me, rewarding me for the exertion and patience it took to be there for it!” This photo also received first place in our Readers’ Choice Contest.
Thirsty Little Caterpillar, Third Place/Readers’ Choice Joseph Johnson, age 11, took this photo during a photography lesson at school in which students were aiming to capture images in water droplets. “I was capturing the flower in the background in my water droplet. I used a passion vine from the school garden to hold the water droplet. There were several passion caterpillars in the garden, so I chose one to be in my photo. I waited to take the photo until the caterpillar climbed up the vine and looked like it was drinking the water droplet.” Joseph is an incoming sixth grader at Veritas Christian Academy.
Michael Hart has been providing photographic images to leading corporations, design firms and advertising agencies for almost 40 years. His assignments have taken him to 49 states and more than 30 countries. Michael’s work is consistently represented in the international Black & White Spider Awards, and an image appears in its book, The World’s Greatest Black and White Photography. Recent shows include the APA Chicago Artist’s Perspective and “Pixels + Silver” FotoFest exhibit. He is a member of the National Board of Directors of the American Society of Media Photographers. Recent accolades include a local Gold and a national ADDY Award from the American Advertising Federation and inclusion in the upcoming “Black & White 2018” show at The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colo. His book, Biggio: The Final Game, is in the library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and a photo from it is in The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. hartphoto.com [email protected]
Nikky LaWell, Certified Professional Photographer and Master Craftsman Photographer from Professional Photographers of America, holds a BFA in photography from the University of Houston and owns a boutique studio specializing in family portraits with a personal perspective. Nikky has been the keeper of memories for the most important of moments, from babies and graduations to weddings and promotions. She is known for listening closely to her clients and coming up with ideas for intimate and creative photography sessions. Nikky says a strong photo compels viewers to react and evokes a genuine emotional response. Her awards include “Best Portrait of a Senior Professional” from the Professional Photographers Guild of Houston, “Best Wedding” from the Southwest Professional Photographers Association, “Best Wedding” from the Texas Professional Photographers Association, and the illustrious Kodak Gallery Award. Her images have been selected for the international FotoFest exhibition and the International Loan Collection of the Professional Photographers of America. lawellphoto.com [email protected]
Bob Gomel became a photographer with LIFE magazine in 1959. During the ’60s, his subjects included such luminaries as President Kennedy, The Beatles, Muhammad Ali, President Nixon, General MacArthur, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Marilyn Monroe, Peggy Lee and Dustin Hoffman. In addition to his LIFEassignments, he shot covers for magazines that included, among others, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and Forbes. In the ’70s and ’80s, he shot notable ad campaigns such as Merrill Lynch’s “Bullish on America” series. His work has been reproduced in over a dozen book collections. His awards include the prestigious Missouri School of Journalism’s Best Picture of the Year. Both the Library of Congress and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston have several of his works in their permanent collections. Most recently, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin has committed to cataloging and preserving his archives for future generations. Editor’s Note: Read more about renowned photographer Bob Gomel in our article Behind the Lens: The Life of a Life Photographer. [email protected]
Butch Hall has been in the photography business for 54 years. In May of 1965, he bought an established studio in Fort Worth. The investment turned out to be the beginning of a 54-year career. Butch has been exposed to virtually all aspects of the photo industry. With a background in both black and white and color processing and printing to cinematography, videography and digital imaging, he has seen the massive changes that have occurred in photography in the last half century. He has photographed more than 1,000 weddings, taken thousands of aerial photographs and has become an expert in forensic, portrait and animal photography, among other specialties. He has extensive experience in the sales side of the industry, working with large industrial clients, newspapers, studio owners and other businesses. For the past several years, Butch has been teaching, helping and encouraging local photographers at the Houston Camera Exchange. [email protected]
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