Bay Nature magazineWinter 2011

Art and Design

People in Nature Photo Contest Winners

January 1, 2011

In spring 2010, Bay Nature teamed up with Sarber’s Cameras on a photo contest featuring images of people in the natural places they love. Dozens of local photographers submitted their work, so picking the best wasn’t easy. Here are our eight winners. We asked each photographer to tell us about their winning photo and a bit about themselves too. At the end, find links to more finalists and a gallery of all submissions.


FIRST PLACE: Kayakers paddling in the Russian River at Goat Rock State Beach near Jenner. (Photo by Dale F. Mead)

Nowhere is the maxim, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” more true than in photography. California Highways had been selling notecards and postcards with my images at the gift shop in Jenner, so I went there for more–particularly close-ups of harbor seals without getting close (they’re protected)–and scenics. So I was prepared, being at the right place at the right time (pre-sunset) with the right gear. I was lucky because 1) drought had slowed Russian River flow to a trickle, making the river mouth a virtual closed pond, and 2) these kayakers happened along, exploring the whole area for half an hour while I shot them from above.

I’m a journalist by career, now mostly retired except for writing for the El Cerrito Journal and other publications on occasion. I came here from the Midwest in the Year of the Flower Children, fresh out of graduate school and wide-eyed at the fog, the Hippies, the mountains and the sailing, and absolutely fell in love with the San Francisco Bay Area. I got into photography intensely after the San Jose Mercury-News sent me to cover the last manned moon mission launch–a visually stupendous event–and I had no camera. My interest revived in 2000 with the emergence of digital; I’m now on my fifth and sixth cameras, and I teach digital photography at West Contra Costa Adult Education. I don’t get outdoors nearly enough, but my wife patiently adjusts to my shooting on weekend treks and real vacations.

SECOND PLACE: Wolfgang Schubert

Painter at Lands End
SECOND PLACE: Wolfgang Schubert, Painting Lands End from the old El Camino del Mar, San Francisco

This was not at all set-up photography, but a “came, saw, and shot” image with a point-and-shoot camera! I walk a lot around the Lands End area, where one fine day I saw a group of amateur painters on the lower coastal trail. When returning, only one person painted on the upper trail. I felt integrating the canvas of the painter allowed for what was a nice juxtaposition of the real place, and her painted landscape.

I spent a lot of time on the trails in the GGNRA, since the year 1999 as a volunteer at the Cliff House Visitors Center, as docent for the National Park Service leading a walk named “Legends of Lands End,” and then later working for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, informing visitors about improvements as well as changes in the Sutro district and Lands End. These park areas are my favorite part of western San Francisco! As an amateur photographer, I always carry my camera with me to be instantly ready to record images whenever, wherever I go. An extensive international collection of my work is at My wife Shirley works in the Presidio of San Francisco, and we make good use of all which nature offers in these beautiful, stunning park lands. We much appreciate being in close touch with urban parks of such fantastic variety, allowing us to recharge both our minds and bodies.

Other Winners

Sarah Anne Bettelheim

Child with western toad
Sarah Anne Bettelheim, Child with western toad, Concord

The photographer’s son was proud to show off the western toad he found and named “Jump.” The toad, clearly out of his element, was less than pleased with the interruption to his day. Despite extensive coaching, the toad could not be convinced to smile. No toads were kissed in the making of this photograph.

I am a freelance photographer in the greater Bay Area. I spend my days juggling my five-year-old son, two-year-old puppy, and my camera. Having relocated to the Bay Area seven years ago, my family and I escape to the outdoors whenever life permits.

Bill Helsel

Photographer and sanderlings at Abbotts Lagoon
Bill Helsel, Photographer at Abbotts Lagoon, Point Reyes National Seashore

I took this photo during a weekend bird photography seminar last January at Point Reyes National Seashore. As the tide came in at Abbotts Lagoon, the instructor, Oliver Klink, demonstrated that it was possible to approach and photograph some sanderlings feeding at the end of a little sand spit if you moved slowly enough. Several other students and I tried it, one at a time. I had also been admiring the larger view of the lagoon with cloud reflections and the cliff beyond. When a colorfully-dressed photographer began approaching the sanderlings on the sand spit, I knew I had the “punctuation mark” for my composition and quickly shot several frames.

I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, bounced around a bit, and settled in the East Bay in 1973. Since the mid-’70s I’ve been a freelance photographer specializing in architecture, also shooting travel and nature for stock photo agencies and teaching adult education photography classes through Acalanes Adult Education, Walnut Creek Civic Arts Education, and Point Reyes Field Seminars. I now shoot most of my color digitally and most of my black and white on film. Among my favorite things to photograph are landscapes in black and white infrared and cities, San Francisco especially, at night in color. Favorite parks include Briones, Morgan Territory, and Point Reyes and the surrounding area. Many of my favorite black and white photos can be seen at

Colleen Proppe

Child jumping over tidepool
Colleen Proppé, low tide at Duxbury Reef, Bolinas

I love taking my sons to Agate Beach in Bolinas to visit the tide pools. This shot was totally unplanned, and one of those special moments when you realize later that you have captured a reflection, and contrasting colors, and that action shot that you didn’t expect to take. We have some other lovely photos from this day, of both my sons, looking into the tide pools, with their fingers and faces reflecting back out of the water. It’s a magical place in the Bay Area, full of sea urchins, sea stars and life underwater that we have visual access to with out much difficulty.

I am a landscape oil painter and mother of 8 year old, twin boys in San Anselmo, CA. I have lived in the Bay Area for almost 16 years now, and there is still so much for me to see. I love reading Bay Nature because there are stories that share research and scientific details about our area that I don’t learn from the daily news. I enjoy the photography as well, and I was first drawn to the magazine by the photos on the website.

Mani Sheriar

Child crossing creek
Mani Sheriar, Crossing the creek, Tilden Regional Park

I was going on a “photography walk” with my ten-year-old son, Skylar. He asked me to hold his camera while he crossed a log that lay across a creek and I snapped some shots of him as he went because I liked the balancing pose he was taking and also somehow the fact that you can see he was wearing flip-flops in the woods made him seem more like the California boy he is.

I am a native Bay Area girl who does web design and development for a living and photography as a creative passion. I love the Bay Area for the wide variety of gorgeous outdoor experiences all within a few hours drive of each other. Whether it’s the mountains, the woods, or the ocean you want, it’s all here. My favorite spot for landscape photography is just two minutes from my home in Walnut Creek: Shell Ridge Open Space. I can get there in ten minutes at the drop of a hat any time the light or the sky looks especially inviting.

Jerry Ting

Sunset at Coyote Hills
Jerry Ting, Sunset at Coyote Hills, Fremont

Winter is my favorite season for landscape shots in Bay Area because the sky is often dramatic during the sunset hour due to different cloud formations. For this specific shot I was waiting for the the full sunset glow at Quarry Staging area and planning to get a silhouette of the rock. Luckily I also got two people climbing down the hill at the right moment.

Parasailors near Mount Diablo
Jerry Ting, Parasailors near Mount Diablo

It was an early spring after visiting the summit and about to leave the park, on my way down I saw these parasailors on the roadside and preparing for a dare mid-air exploration. I quickly parked my car, waited, and took several shots after they were in the air and gliding down to those beautiful green hills.

I moved from Cleveland Ohio to Fremont in 2005, I am a senior programmer in a large international corporation and work from home from 6 AM to 2 PM. It is a great advantage for me to be able to go out and take pictures almost every day after work. I must say it’s a privilege to live in the Bay Area. The great weather, various landscapes and abundant wildlife make it the photography enthusiast’s heaven.

More Photos

Check out our other finalists!

Or the full submission gallery (note that this is drawing from many Flickr accounts, so some submissions may no longer appear here if the artist has removed the relevant tag).

About the Author

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