Prints That Win: Departing Flight

While stalking birds in the Everglades, Seymour, Wis.-based photographer Steven Kemp captured a Brown Pelican in mid-departure. Birds taking flight aren’t typically viewed as spectacular, noteworthy moments; however, the photography veteran has a knack for capturing the simple moments of life and transforming them into amazing ones.

The Sunset Print Award-winning photo, “Departing Flight,” was naturally exquisite and only needed minimal editing to be a winner. Kemp cropped out the trees and the shoreline in the background and smoothed out the rippled water. He printed the image on LexJet Sunset Production eSatin 250g photo paper, and it was ready for competition.

Prints that Win: Autumn Cascades

In the secluded woods of West Virginia, Jaki Good Miller took her Sunset Print Award-winning photograph, Autumn Cascades. This is only her second year entering competitions, but her second win of a Sunset Print Award; her first was last year with her image Morning on Mormon Row. “I think it was skill, but also some luck,” she says with a laugh. Her vibrant image, Autumn Cascades, captures the brilliant colors and textures of this West Virginian landscape, instantly captivating the viewer.

Prints That Win: Golden Arches

Under the royal Alcázar in Seville, Spain, are the Baños de Doña María de Padilla (Baths of Lady María of Padilla). This underground rainwater reserve is a popular tourist attraction, however, on the day that Bill Mills visited, the baths were entirely empty. “That was the beauty of this place …” says Mills, “that no one was there. I had the place to myself, and how often can you say that?”

It was here that he took his Sunset Print Award-winning photo Golden Arches. “You’re not allowed to use tripods in this area, but around this bath was a wall, and so I set my camera there on a two-second delay and shot a couple of different angles,” he says. His image eloquently captures the eerie tranquility of the architecture, earning him this prestigious award.

Prints That Win: In Flight With Twigs

Photographer Uldis Ilvess was on a road trip through South Carolina when he took his Sunset Print Award-winning photograph In Flight with Twigs. “We happened to drive by a small pasture with some private houses, and in between the houses was this fenced in area with a pond, and in the shrubs were these birds nesting there,” says Ilvess. The image of the bird with twigs in its mouth instantly captivated him.

Based in Des Moines, IA, Ilvess has been a photographer since the 1970s. The art form originally started out as a hobby for him before developing into a full career. He taught photography through a local art center, which he says was a mutually beneficial experience.

Prints That Win: Homestead

Veteran Michigan photographer, Kari Douma, has paid many visits to the winner’s circle at print competitions. Ever since her first competition in 2007, she has been capturing numerous show-stopping photographs that catch the judge’s eyes.

Her photograph, “Homestead,” is no exception. She won the Sunset Print Award at the PPA Northeast District in the spring, and was named the third-place winner at the National Sunset Print Awards in November. Coming across the scene captured in “Homestead” happened almost by chance.

An unseasonal spring snow in Montana inspired her to go for a ride in search of the perfect landscape. “We were driving on two track roads out in the middle of nowhere when I saw the scene and captured it,” she says. “I loved it so much that I wanted to come back at sunrise the next morning but I still liked the original one better from the day before.” After some slight editing in Photoshop, “Homestead” was primed to be a winner.

Top 26: The National Sunset Print Award Contenders

This week, LexJet will be hosting four prestigious judges in our Sarasota, Fla., headquarters for the third annual National Sunset Print Awards competition.

Each year, photographers and image makers compete at their local and regional print competitions where we offer Sunset Print Awards. The prints that win the Sunset award at those events have the opportunity to compete for the national award each November. Past winners have included Tammy Bevins and Kari Douma.