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2011 Photo Contest Winners

Photo finish

30th annual contest rewards talent, creativity and a little luck

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. We hope you enjoy their winning photos. And keep your cameras handy: The 2012 contest opens June 1.

Grand Prize Winner

Charlie Olson, Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member

Charlie Olson, whose family has farmed in the Bay Area since 1899, takes pictures to chronicle the growing season. This image also pays tribute to friend and neighbor Ralph Appio, shown on a tractor amid waist-high mustard grass 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 the soil healthy and navigable.

Kids and Critters on the Farm

First Place

Lane Johnson, Placer County Farm Bureau

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.

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.

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.

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."

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."

Second Place

Keith 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 hay for the family's cattle.

Rural Scenic

First Place

Bruce 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.

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."

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."

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.


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