“Valley News” Amateur Photography Contest: And the Winners Are ...
"The Vigil," by Gerald Bergen, of White River Junction.
The Vigil by Gerald Bergen of White River Junction
Sunrise - Joe Ranger Road by Chris Antal of Pomfret
Rascal by Matthew Stebenne of Hartland
"Sunrise - Joe Ranger Road," by Chris Antal, of Pomfret.
"Rascal," by Matthew Stebenne, of Hartland.
Nature and pets have always been favorites with voters in the Valley News Amateur Photography Contest, which has been been running for more than 20 years. A panel of Valley News judges looked at 358 entries for this year’s contest, narrowing the field to 24 finalists. The finalists were displayed at the HomeLife Expo at Leverone Field House in Hanover from March 15-17. Visitors cast 1,176 ballots to choose first, second and third places.
First: The Vigil
This year’s winning photograph is of a champion. Gerald Bergen of Hartford captured his dog Brea, a bearded collie, during a walk on the beach in Kennebunkport, Maine. They were taking a break between classes of the Bearded Collie Club of America’s National Specialty, where Brea did quite well.
He looks pleased with himself in Bergen’s photograph, which was taken with a Nikon D90 camera fitted with an 18-105 millimeter zoom lens. This marks Bergen’s second victory in the Valley News photo contest: He won in 1981 and was a runner- up in recent years. He’s been an amateur photographer since his youth, but said he has more time to take pictures now that he’s retired. He’s been retired for five years, after working 25 years as an X-ray tech at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
“It’s nice to see your work recognized by others,” Bergen said.
Brea, who was named a grand champion by the American Kennel Club last year, based on victories at dog shows, now has another win.
Most photographers, professional or amateur, rise early in the morning, when the light is just right, at some point in their career to shoot a sunrise. What makes Chris Antal’s contribution stand out are the trees framing the shot, as well as those in the background that are silhouetted by the sun’s rays.
The photograph was taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera last October on Joe Ranger Road in North Pomfret, not far from Antal’s home.
Antal didn’t wake up that morning intending to shoot this sunrise photo. But “I saw the fog, and off I ran, and I took four or five shots, and that one came out the best,” Antal said. “Normally, I would have gotten up a little later, but I knew I only had a small window, because there was weather coming and I knew it would be gray for a few days.”
A tile mason by day, Antal, 59, took his first photographs with an Instamatic camera at a car race in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in 1968. “I just always had a bug for it,” he said.
Rascal, an 8-year-old Maine coon cat, is normally a rather skittish creature, not given to posing for pictures. So when Matthew Stebenne, a budding photographer and a 16-year-old junior at Hanover High School, saw his cat sitting perfectly still on a couch in the living room, he grabbed his camera. “I posted it on Facebook after I took it, and I was mad that he was more photogenic than I was,” Stebenne joked.
Stebenne, who lives in Hartland with his family and three cats, started taking photographs in earnest last summer and saved enough money by the end of the year to buy himself a digital Canon SLR camera. He’s set himself a goal of posting on his blog (matthews365days.blogspot.com) a photograph every day of this year. The photo of Rascal, taken in the winter light of a February afternoon, was posted on day 41.
Rascal’s eyes remind Stebenne of the eyes of the Afghan girl in the famous 1985 National Geographic cover photo taken by Steve McCurry. Stebenne has taken a lot of pictures of his cats, but this was one was different, he said. “This, I really thought, was a portrait of a cat.”