‘Life in Motion’ images capture creativity, photo contest wins

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  • By Debbie Aragon

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The Air Force recently announced its 2019 Air Force Photo Contest winners.

The winners – first, second and third place in five categories – were among more than 1,600 entries submitted for the annual contest.

This year’s competition, with a theme of “Life in Motion,” was “fierce,” said contest judge Mark Allen. Allen has a wealth of experience as a two-time Military Photographer of the Year, Pacific Stars and Stripes photojournalist, and photographic manager at the Pentagon’s Joint Combat Camera Center during Operation Desert Shield.

“I had to go through submissions several times before finally paring down to what I considered to be the quintessential images,” Allen said. “There were many impressive photos … several were truly exceptional.”

Another contest judge Steve Reffey, a fine arts photographer with more than 17 years of experience capturing images of everything from landscapes and weddings to pets, agreed.

“I was really impressed with the amount of entries and quality of photographs entered in the youth categories, as well as the adult novice. My expectations were high for the adult accomplished category and the entries didn’t disappoint.”

Category winners are:

Youth 6-8 years -- First Place Anton Sifuentes, Kadena AB, Japan; Second Place Kinsley Miller, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, and Third Place Meya Benini, Mountain Home AFB, Idaho

Youth 9-12 years -- First Place Moises Chavez, Travis AFB, California; Second Place Sophia Quinlan, Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts, and Third Place Zoey Coudriet, RAF Croughton, United Kingdom

Youth 13-17 years -- First Place Emily Jacobson, Ramstein AB, Germany; Second Place Grace Greene, Eielson AFB, Alaska, and Third Place Abram Maestre, JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

Adult Novice -- First Place Heather Rasmussen, Osan AB, Korea; Second Place Dan Kenemore, Scott AFB, Illinois, and Third Place Kobi Davis, Kadena AB, Japan

Adult Accomplished -- First Place Dan Loesvsky, Edwards AFB, California; Second Place Derrell Dover, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, and Third Place:  Trevor Cokley, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado

“The quality of photos submitted in all of the categories was outstanding,” said Darlene Johnson, Air Force Services Center Community and Leisure Programs director. “We have incredible talent at our military installations and I am so excited we are able to share their photography for their friends and family to view.”

Reffey was very impressed with the adult accomplished winning entry by Loesvsky of a bull and bull rider captured in midair.

“It was an amazing capture … It was one of those images I couldn’t stop looking at and I kept going back to it again and again,” Reffey said.

With the Life in Motion theme, timing was a key factor in several of the winning entries, Allen said.

“It is one thing to photograph a static subject. It’s another to photograph a breath-taking image of a subject in motion and with crisp focus.”

Reffey was impressed with the use of neutral density filters in youth submissions for slowing down shutter speeds and getting the proper exposure.

For those looking forward to next year’s contest, Allen says to look for a way to photograph your subject in a way the viewer has never seen before.

“Look for the photo which helps to lend detail or insight into your subject,” Allen said. “Sometimes, the best pictures are behind you. Also, don’t be afraid to get close to your subject. The closer you are to the action, the more the viewer feels drawn into your photo, but, always put safety first. There’s no picture worth your well-being or that of your subject.”

Reffey’s advice is to understand the rules and submit images that fit the theme. “When I looked at images, the first thing I asked myself was ‘how does this image convey motion to me?”

He suggested submissions be free of time and date stamps, as well as watermarks.

“If watermarks are allowed,” he added, “ensure the placement doesn’t detract from the image you submit.”

Look for information on the 2020 Air Force Photo Contest in the spring.  In addition to the photo contest, AFSVC conducts the annual Air Force Art Contest for art enthusiasts. Call for entries for that program runs from Nov. 1-30, 2019.