When LexJet hosted the Sunset Image Awards Click & Win Event earlier this year, the categories began to fill quickly. One of the most competitive groups was the Wildlife & Landscape category, with over 400 submissions. For Kenneth Martin, who won with “Sacred Lands of the Navajo”, and Jamie Steeno, who placed second with “The Courtyard”, there’s quite a story behind the captures.
The couple, based in Green Bay, Wis., each submitted a photo for the contest without telling the other. “Neither one of us knew the other was entering, and we live in the same house,” says Steeno. The judging came up, and Ken says, ‘I’ve got to get to the studio before the Click & Win judging’ and that’s how we found out the other entered.”
While both images are taken at Hunts Mesa, Ariz., they each have their own story to tell.
Martin set up the exclusive adventure as a birthday present for Steeno. “I’ve been to Monument Valley on many occasions and I’ve always wanted to get to the top of Hunts Mesa,” he says. “That’s a special guided tour, only by the Navajo. I purchased two tickets to the top of Hunts Mesa to wish Jamie a Happy Birthday. It was a unique adventure.”
Steeno agrees. “We are instructors for Down Every Road Adventures. We explore the adventures ourselves, then we put together a workshop,” she says. “Here we are walking on these buttes that people are normally looking up at. So, we are getting a totally different view.”
While the views from the top are peaceful and serene, getting to that vantage point was quite literally a bumpy ride. “We loaded up a couple of SUVs and as we were on the ascent to Hunts Mesa, the road got extremely rough,” says Martin. “You’re buckled in tight, and you feel like salt in a saltshaker.”
Once they reached the top, they prepared for a nighttime shoot, which is when Steeno captured her image. “The Courtyard” is a black and white sunset image. “I chose to do mine in the old-time zone system. I felt that it brought more depth to the image, the old-time feel,” she says. “It’s in a historic area, sacred grounds. I thought that image would be better portrayed in black and white.”
While Steeno was focused on recreating a historical look, Martin chose a sunset shoot to capture every detail for “Sacred Lands of the Navajo”.
“It is a 28-image capture that I then photo merged in PhotoShop. It took 8-10 minutes to shoot,” he says. “I could have captured everything with a wide-angle lens, but the mesas and buttes in the far background would’ve just disappeared. I employed a 100 mm focal length which brought that background up closer.”
Taking first place in the Sunset Image Awards isn’t his only win for this image. “I got third in the Grand Imaging Awards. Just getting to the platform is an honor,” Martin says.
It’s not just about capturing a great image for an award-winning photo, it’s also about having the right equipment and media.
Both photographers are avid fans of Canon equipment – both cameras and printers – and Martin recently purchased the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2100 Printer from LexJet. “I got my first big printer, a Canon 8300, from LexJet. When it came time to replace the motherboard, I just purchased a Canon 2100, instead,” he says.
When it comes to media, both Martin and Steeno each have their favorites. “My favorite media is EPSON Premium Luster. For canvas, I use the Sunset Select Matte Canvas. I decided to go with the 24-inch printer so I could print 20-inch x 30-inch or 20-inch x 40-inch canvases. They are easier to handle than the larger ones I was doing on the 8300,” says Martin.
For some of the specialized work that Steeno does, she prefers something that offers a bit more shine. “For the light painting, cars, and motorcycles that we shoot, I love the Sunset Photo Metallic,” she says. “It makes the color pop. It’s amazing.”
This competitive couple was introduced to LexJet years ago through the Sunset Print Awards. “I first heard of LexJet when I won my first Sunset Print Award and I’ve been a customer since,” says Martin.
“In 2015, one of my other images – “Watercourse” – won the LexJet Sunset Print Award,” says Steeno.
For this dynamic photography duo, it’s not only capturing award-winning photos that keep them going, but also the adventure and, of course, their competitive spirit. “I’m continuously motivated to up my game to stay ahead of Jamie,” says Martin. “We’re very competitive. It keeps us on our toes,” says Steeno.
Looking to “Get Recognized”? Submit your photo through Sept. 3 for the next Sunset Image Awards and you could win $300 in cash if your image is selected by our judging panel. For more information on Canon printers or LexJet media, contact a LexJet sales specialist at 800-453-9538 or visit LexJet.com.