Ask and ye shall receive.
The truth to this bit of ancient wisdom was readily apparent this past summer to organizers of the Inyo County Amateur Photo Contest, which, in its third year, drew a record 130 entries from all over the world.
According to Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen New, who conceived of the contest in 2010 to help fill promotional materials, she and fellow organizers were not only impressed with the numbers of photographs received, but also the quality.
“They blew my socks off – unbelievable quality,” she said. “There wasn’t a bad picture submitted. They just get better and better every year.”
The judges, New said, “couldn’t believe it.”
And naturally, she continued, they had a difficult task narrowing the 100-plus field to 48 finalists – including first, second and third place, which came with cash prizes of $500, $200 and $100, respectively.
In the end, it was “Egrets on Owens Lake,” by Rick Kattelmann of Crowley Lake, that was awarded the top spot.
“The photograph was a beautifully rendered scene of a line of white egrets standing on the lake bed with their reflections mirrored in the water,” said Big Pine resident Charles James, one of many residents on hand July 21 when the winners were revealed at the grand opening of the Lone Pine Courtyard Art Gallery.
Second place was awarded to Jack Freer of Gardnerville, Nev., for his photograph titled, “Tecopa Hot Spring.”
“The combination of the water, reeds and reflection of the dark, storming sky on the water with mountains in the background made for a dramatic scene of the local and very popular area found in Death Valley,” James said.
Third place was awarded to Ed Nahin of Bishop, for his photograph of American avocets in flight, “Sierra Flying.”
“The beautiful colors and photographic close-up of the birds in flight appears to be painted as if on canvass rather than photographed,” James said.
All 48 finalists are currently on display at the Eastern Sierra InterAgency Visitor Center south of Lone Pine, where they’ll be seen by the thousands of tourists who pour through the facility each summer.
According to New, many of the photographs will likely also be used in the next edition of the Lone Pine Visitors Guide and in other advertising and promotional efforts on behalf of Inyo County – a right reserved by the Chamber of Commerce as part of the contest rules.
Indeed, the contest was created as a way to help the Chamber with its promotional efforts by offering amateur photographers invaluable exposure in exchange for the use of their Inyo County images.
The partnership approach has proven popular and mutually beneficial these past three years, New said.
“The photographers love this contest,” she said.
Not only are the finalists’ photos currently on display, some of them are also for sale – another perk to entering the competition.
According to New, a second display of the top 10-15 entries is being put together for the Inyo County Board of Supervisors chambers in Independence, where the exhibit will hang for “a couple of months.” The Board of Supervisors provided funding for the 2012 contest through its Community Projects Grant Program.
The Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce will begin accepting entries for next year’s Amateur Photo Contest in the spring of 2013.
Because of the quality of entries being received – and at the suggestion of the judges – Honorable Mention categories might be added next year, New said.
The contest is open to amateurs only (a professional is defined as one whose primary source of income, 50 percent or more, results from his/her photographic work). Photographers may reside anywhere, but the photos submitted must be of scenes in Inyo County.
For more information, please contact the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce at (760) 876-4444.