Photo Contest Finalists, March 2011 Contest

After much deliberation by a stellar panel of writer-photographer judges, the top five finalists in the first-ever “What I Saw” Amateur Photo Contest have been selected. Congratulations, finalists!

Now it’s your turn to vote, comment and experience your own chance to win great prizes, as explained below. VOTING NOW CLOSED. See winning photo, voting prizes.


If you vote and leave a comment below, you could win one of three prizes:

  • A copy of New York Times bestselling author Caroline Leavitt’s Pictures of You
  • A copy of debut novelist Therese Walsh’s novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy
  • An 8 x 10 signed print of your choice (on Metallic Finish Paper) from Damien Franco’s photography gallery

All you have to do is vote and comment below (please I.D. the photo you’re commenting on. Thoughtful responses appreciated.). Judges were asked to select the top images that “told a story,” illustrated creativity, clarity and overall “wow-ness.” Which is your favorite? Why did you choose the photo you chose? What stories did you see behind it? Was it difficult to pick a favorite? Why?

Winners will be randomly selected. The grand prize winner of the Amazon certificate is not eligible to receive book or photo prizes (But contest entrants are eligible and encouraged to vote and comment).

Voting open March 21-March 27. Winner announced the week of March 28.

View the fabulous entries submitted by all amateur photographers (and feel free to leave them a note about their inspirational, out-of-this-world images).

Which is your favorite?

  • J. Bonstein ~ Stairway to Heaven (57%, 169 Votes)
  • O. Camejo ~ Ride the Galaxie (18%, 52 Votes)
  • M. Beaudet ~ Ghost Trees reflected in Little Crater Lake (13%, 38 Votes)
  • J. Sommersby ~ How I got over my fear of thunderstorms (11%, 34 Votes)
  • M. Morgan ~ Red Flagged (1%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 297

Loading ... Loading ...

84 Responses to “Contest”

  • avatar Sherrie Wright Says:

    Stark yet uplifting. Speaks to a bygone day and time with hope.

  • avatar Julia O Says:


  • avatar Candy Rinehart Says:

    This picture is so serene & beautiful!

  • avatar Elane Says:

    Heaven on earth!

  • avatar Mike campion Says:

    A true walk into the light moment. Stunning!

  • avatar Barbara Cory Says:

    Love this picture. Gives me hope and inspiration. What more could you ask of a photograph.

  • avatar Penny Jackson Says:

    Stairway to heaven is both mystical and beautiful. I would love to have a copy to hang on my wall.

  • avatar Renae Cory Says:

    Tough choices but stairway to heaven just spoke to me….

  • avatar Janna Nelson Says:

    Stairway to Heaven, wow beautiful. I would love that for my home!

  • avatar Ashley Says:

    “Stairway to Heaven” was by far my favorite of these five. The others are nice photos, but that one takes your eyes and mind somewhere else too. Wow!

  • avatar Jason McIntyre Says:

    Love ’em all but voted for Marty Beaudet; his trees look like black and grey oil paint on rough canvas. Great photos, everyone!

  • avatar April White Says:

    The stairway to heaven brought tears to my eyes and reminded me that someday I will be reunited with my little boy

  • avatar Jenny Marinelli Says:


  • avatar Adriane Bernstein Says:

    I grew up in Johannesburg and loved the lightening storms. This brings back special memories.

  • avatar Pam Asberry Says:

    What beautiful pictures; so much talent! Thank you for sharing.

  • avatar Robert Whitehill Says:

    This is a powerful collection of photographs. All of them are quite arresting. I find myself drawn first to the ones that some might refer to as being more easily accessible to interpretation. Stairway to Heaven, with its sunlight phenomenon, and title evocative of song and spirit, leads that list. After digesting the shots that first grab the eye, I was lead longer study of shots that were more gritty in nature (the ironically named Ride the Galaxy heads that list), and then to photos that required a bit of time to figure out what exactly I am seeing. The mystery of Ghost Trees spoke to my condition today. The way the light and water come together with uncertain clarity is a fine artistic rendering of how my daily experience, even when superficially encumbered by routine, is really ever-changing, and worthy of mindful scrutiny of The Moment, such as this moment when the shutter snapped, and the light, the waters of the lake, the sky, and the trees, which will never be quite the same again, were captured. Ghost trees gets my vote.

  • avatar Pauline Reynolds Says:

    all are incredible photos. I was immediately drawn to Stairway to Heaven and would love to be able to purchase a copy for my pastor and another for me-

  • avatar Pauline Reynolds Says:

    I loved Stairway to Heaven- would love to buy a couple of them for gifts- I absolutely love it.

  • avatar Dan Says:


  • avatar jpetroroy Says:

    Stairway to Heaven is stunning. Quiet, yet uplifting. Love the separated beams of light.

  • avatar Gwenda Fox Says:

    J. Bonstein ~ Stairway to Heaven

    Beautiful, ethereal. Love this.

  • avatar Sue McBride Says:

    I would love to have one of these pictures and it would make a wonderful gift for my friends and chance of getting a copy?

  • avatar Jennifer Blomquist Says:

    These are all great photos and its nice that they are a range of styles. I liked the first photo because of the unique effect of the sun rays and the coloring effects in the picture. I also love the second photo for its fun vintage feel.

  • avatar Jessica McCann Says:

    These are all beautiful, but I voted for Ride the Galaxie. Would love to read the novel waiting to written about the owner of this car (I’m thinking a widow in her 80s) and the neighborhood where it sits parked.


    Melissa Reply:

    Ohh, Jessica … I love the way your mind works. I love that you envision an 80-year-old owner of this car. Thanks for sharing the story you see behind the image. Wonderful!


    Oscar Camejo Reply:

    Thanks for the vote Jessica. You can read the full story here.

  • avatar Gary Says:

    I love pictures that are not quite what they seem to be. At first glance, and without reading the caption, Ghost Trees doesn’t seem unusual. Once you realize it’s a shoreline and a reflection, it’s much more compelling.

  • avatar Pablo Bryant Ramirez Says:

    Ghost Trees captures a sense of a “pleasing, deathly harmonic solitude from all life” that’s the feeling/thougtht I get everytime I see the picture. Everything goes perfectly together, the absence of color, the illusion of the trees appearing in the water, and the feeling of being alone. I can really see why the owner of the photograph named it Ghost Trees

  • avatar Jayme C Says:

    I would love to hang “Stairway to Heaven” in my home! It has an ethereal quality that translates to a sense of peace and tranquility.

  • avatar James Weller Says:

    I loved all of the photographs, but the Ghost Trees most powerfully gives me a glimpse to another world, one of splendor and beauty, ever so close and gentle, just waiting for the right touch to pierce the surface of reality in order to cross over. Bravo, Marty!

  • avatar Tiffany D. Says:

    Each of these are beautiful! I would happily display all of them.

  • avatar Jennifer Sharp Says:

    Love the picture of the thunderstorm. Capturing a great photo like that is a goal of mine. Plus my favorite uncle loves thunderstorms and this reminds me of something he’d love.

  • avatar Paul Beaudet Says:

    My vote: Ghost Trees!

  • avatar Leah Says:

    Wow, what a tough one! These are all amazing photos. My two favorites are J. Bonstein ~ Stairway to Heaven, and J. Sommersby ~ How I got over my fear of thunderstorms. I LOVE these shots.

  • avatar Loren Fay Says:

    The lightning reminds me of my love of thunder and lightning, the flash and the power of both, as long as i am safely away from both, 😉

  • avatar Shell Bennet Says:

    trees and snow (Ghost Trees) by Marty Baudet melted my heart. I miss my own river, trees and snow this winter so that pic got my vote. Then, 2nd, so close, was the lightening! THAT was power captured beautifully. Congrats to all!

  • avatar Beth Hoffman Says:

    Love them all, but I’m most drawn to the lightning.

  • avatar Tami Dewell Says:

    Stairway to Heaven is an uplifting shot that captures the beauty of nature. I love it!

  • avatar Marty Beaudet Says:

    Aww, c’mon… You mean y’all are buyin’ a Stairway to Heaven? ;-D (Just kidding. Couldn’t resist. I have to admit it’s a great shot! But thanks to all those who have voted for my Ghost Trees!)

  • avatar Laura Hartnell Says:

    Stairway to heaven is my first choice and 2nd is Ghost trees. The pictures say it all.

  • avatar Daniel Hewitt Says:

    Stairway to Heaven, far and away. +1. Hope to win a print. =)

  • avatar laura peterson Says:

    I love the way the reflected trees in Ghost Trees are positioned perfectly upright, so as to force the viewer to look at it very thoughtfully, to see it for what it really is, not just what it appears to be at first glance. Mother Nature (and an expert photographer) provided a wonderful scene, almost illusory, in this day and age of PhotoShop. Love it!

  • avatar Melissa Says:

    Stairway to Heaven

    This picture without words tells a story and gives a sense of hope and wonder to those seeing the picture. I would absolutely love to purchase a copy of this photo!

  • avatar Kathy Becraft Says:

    M. Beaudet-Ghost trees is my favorite of the five listed here. Of the original group, I really liked Numa Falls, R. Berry-cat, State line, Blacktailed rattlesnake, Cutest pumpkin. It was a difficult choice. This was allot of fun to look at photos that meant enough to the photographer to send in. Thanks for free fun!

  • avatar Jim Best Says:

    I feel the measure of my soul in reflections … a star, a tree, or a drop of water.

  • avatar Sue Powell Says:

    They are all good, but Stairway to Heaven just takes my breath away!

  • avatar Michelle West Says:

    They are all great photo’s but stairway to heaven just speaks to me. It’s so calm and soothing…I could look at it for hours!

  • avatar Alistair McLean Says:

    Stairway to Heaven is my faveourite. It carries such a peaceful atmosphere.

  • avatar Patricia M Says:

    I would love to display any one of these but my favorite is the Lightning Photo. It’s breathtaking!

  • avatar bookspersonally Says:

    These are gorgeous! bravo, photographers!

  • avatar Linda Anselmi Says:

    Very tough to choose. Each spoke to me in different ways. But the multi-pronged, multi-fingered lightening strike seems to reflect the complex world we live in now.

    Nothing ever seem to come in a single direct bolt of lightening any more. Everything is accompanied by a multitude of little jagged strikes that illuminate and complicate.

  • avatar Karen Seriguchi Says:

    “Ghost Trees” is the one I will remember. It has a quality that the Japanese call “shibui” — quiet yet powerful, simple yet complex. I could look at it forever without tiring of it. I find “Stairway to Heaven” nicely composed but overly literal and somewhat overbearing, perhaps because I am from an older generation. (I understand the emotion that it evokes in others, however; no disrespect is intended.)