Photo finish: 30th annual contest rewards talent, creativity and good timing


Issue Date: January 4, 2012
By Barbara Arciero
Grand Prize
Charlie Olson, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member
Grown in California - First Place
Claudia Valente, San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation member
Grown in California - Second Place
Marlene Bell, Kern County Farm Bureau member
Rural Scenic - First Place
Bruce R. Bergman, Shasta County Farm Bureau member
Rural Scenic - Second Place
Kerry Crain, Tehama County Farm Bureau member
All in a Day’s Work on the Farm - First Place
Shannon Douglass, Glenn County Farm Bureau member
All in a Day’s Work on the Farm - Second Place
Keith R. Gentz, Placer County Farm Bureau member
Kids and Critters on the Farm - First Place
Lane Johnson, Placer County Farm Bureau member
Kids and Critters on the Farm - Second Place
Jon R. Swanson, San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau member
Budding Artists - First Place
Marie T. Simmons, 12 years old, Imperial County Farm Bureau member
Budding Artists - Second Place
Harry Matthiasson, 13 years old, Napa County Farm Bureau member

Hard work, rural beauty and family traditions are all captured in the annual California Farm Bureau photo contest.

Participants competed in five categories: Grown in California, Rural Scenic, All in a Day's Work on the Farm, Kids and Critters on the Farm, and Budding Artists, for children 13 and younger.

The Grand Prize winner, by Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member Charlie Olson—entered in the All in a Day's Work on the Farm category—earned a $500 prize. Other winning photos qualified for awards ranging from $100 to $250.

And remember to keep your cameras handy: The 2012 contest, which is open to amateur photographers who belong to a county Farm Bureau in California, begins June 1.

Grand Prize

Charlie Olson, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member
This image by Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member Charlie Olson earned the Grand Prize in the 2011 California Farm Bureau photo contest. Olson's photo shows friend and neighbor Ralph Appio driving a tractor amid waist-high mustard in an apricot orchard.
"He's 80 years old now and probably as good a tractor driver as any in the valley," said Olson, 76, adding that mustard is often used as a cover crop in orchards and vineyards to help control weeds and pests, and keep soil healthy and navigable.
Olson, whose family has farmed in the Bay Area since 1899, takes pictures to chronicle the growing season.

Grown in California - First Place

Claudia Valente, San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation member
Claudia Valente's family shares a love of agriculture—as well as a competitive spirit. Each year, the Farm Bureau photo contest brings both to the forefront. "My husband Joe has won this contest three times, my daughter Amy (Blagg) has won twice, my son-in-law Tyler (Blagg) has won once, and now me," she said. Late-summer figs in the yard provided ripe subjects for her winning shot.

Grown in California - Second Place

Marlene Bell, Kern County Farm Bureau member
Marlene Bell takes hundreds of pictures of her Horned Dorset sheep—both to document the flock's progress and as a basis for her paintings, note cards and other artwork. "The photo of the triplet ewe lamb with her leg over her brother's back was unusual, since it's rare to catch a sheep lying like this," she said. "Lambs typically lie next to each other, but not as close as this."

Rural Scenic - First Place

Bruce R. Bergman, Shasta County Farm Bureau member
Now that Bruce Bergman has retired to a small ranch in McArthur, he has more chances to pursue his interest in photographing natural subjects—thus the stunning sunrise shot of his barn with its yard light still on. "It seemed like a very interesting contrast, as the light is photosensitive and shuts off at daybreak, so it was a very 'time-sensitive' opportunity," he said.

Rural Scenic - Second Place

Kerry Crain, Tehama County Farm Bureau member
Kerry Crain was driving through the mountains with her husband and three sons when they pulled over for some family photos. "I turned around to get back in the car and was struck by the scene of the cows, the split-rail fence, the wildflowers in the foreground and Mount Lassen in the background," she said. "It is truly a testament to the beauty of Tehama County."

All in a Day's Work on the Farm - First Place

Shannon Douglass, Glenn County Farm Bureau member
An inexpensive camera stashed in a diaper bag captured this first-place photo of Kelly Douglass installing irrigation pipe. "I brought our new baby Heath with me to say hello, which is why I happened to have the camera in my diaper bag," said wife, mother and rancher Shannon Douglass. "While we waited for Kelly to get to where we could sit and visit, I decided to snap some pictures."

All in a Day's Work on the Farm - Second Place

Keith R. Gentz, Placer County Farm Bureau member
When farmer Keith Gentz noticed native grasses flourishing in a highway median last spring, he was quick to act. "I called Caltrans to ask if I could mow and bale it," he said. Gentz and crew—including wife Lorrie—ended up tackling a section 4 1/2 miles long and 70 feet wide, saving the state money and providing feed for the family's cattle.

Kids and Critters on the Farm - First Place

Lane Johnson, Placer County Farm Bureau member
Fourteen-year-old Lane Johnson prefers to wear a small cowboy hat when he attends to chores on the family ranch. Younger brother Layton, however, favors larger headgear. "His hat is like an umbrella," Lane said with a laugh, adding that the big hat does provide an interesting contrast to the small dog. The teen has grown up taking pictures, preferring horses, cattle and dogs as subjects.

Kids and Critters on the Farm - Second Place

Jon R. Swanson, San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau member
Jon Swanson describes this photo opportunity as "just one of those things where you see wildlife and say, 'Well, everybody needs to enjoy that.'" And who can't help but enjoy the humor of a wild turkey preening in front of a driveway safety mirror. "He had a search-and-rescue mission going on every day looking for a partner, I think," said Swanson, a recently retired winegrape grower.

Budding Artists - First Place

Marie T. Simmons, 12 years old, Imperial County Farm Bureau member
Riverside sixth-grader Marie Simmons has been learning about agriculture through classroom study—along with regular visits to her grandfather's Imperial Valley property. "I like the farm because it's such a fun place to be and just to explore," she said. She snapped her first-prize photo during one such visit as her father and grandfather inspected the winter spinach crop. "I had a ton of fun that day."

Budding Artists - Second Place

Harry Matthiasson, 13 years old, Napa County Farm Bureau member
Photography can be a dirty job. Just ask Harry Matthiasson. "I had to crawl into the creek bed to get the right angle," he said of this view of a harrow, an antique implement once used to prepare the soil for planting. The eighth-grader enjoys exploring the vineyards around his Napa farm. He also helps harvest and sell peaches, plums and nectarines at farmers markets during the summer.

(Barbara Arciero is a reporter for Ag Alert. She may be contacted at barciero@cfbf.com.)

Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.