Into the Mystic
The winners of our annual Lake Erie Living Photo Contest
The winners of our 2012 Lake Erie Living Photo Contest delighted us this year with their dreamy, yet magnificent, images.
Grand PrizeSide Cut Metropark — Maumee, Ohio
By Maggi Dandar of Curtice, Ohio
For more than 20 years, Dandar has been interested in photography, often using natural lighting to capture moments in nature as a means to document the presence of God. “I always travel with two things: Christ and my camera,” she says, as she tries to explain how she stumbled upon a herd of deer in the middle of the woods at 7 a.m. one morning in October. Dandar was making the two-hour drive home from Whitehouse, Ohio, after having breakfast with her grandson Isaac when thick fog settled along the roadway. When she turned the corner and saw a shelter house near the side of the road, she pulled over and got out of the car with her Nikon D-90, following a nearby path to the top of a ridge overlooking the Maumee River. That’s when she spotted something moving among the trees. “As I got closer, 12 deer appeared out of the fog like souls searching for passage. They looked at me as if just to acknowledge my presence, then continued on their predestined course into the river,” she says.Dandar had made several trips to take pictures at “the Mighty Maumee” in the past, but had only been to that spot for the first time the morning the photo was taken.“I shot about 50 images, then just stopped in wonder of how only God can create such a moment,” she says. “It was like capturing a memory, a moment that will never be exactly like it again. I have been back many times since.”Known as “Muskrat Maggi” among the members of Bono Baptist Church because of her love of nature, Dandar photographs for several church events throughout the year. But she feels just as close to God when she travels alone to watch the sun rise over Metzgers Marsh — a trip she’s been making most mornings for 11 years.“The toads and egrets are the best gospel choir I have ever belted it out with,” she says. “I can go out there and God will attune me with the thrumming of a warbler or a crash of a wave. I am at peace with the world there.”
Lake Erie — Huron, Ohio
By Todd Sechel of Amherst, Ohio
Before taking this photo of the Huron Lighthouse on his Cannon 5d Mark II, Sechel waited at the mile-long pier for almost an hour. He had already done his homework, searching several weather sites for the best location and using The Photographers Ephemeris, an iPhone app that tracks the path of the sun and moon. “Lighting is everything,” he says. “To me, it is the difference between a dramatic image of a special moment in time versus a snapshot.” Typically, Sechel will use gradual neutral density filters to harness the light in a photo, but in this case he decided against it. “It would have put a dark cast over the top of the lighthouse,” he says. “I really wanted to preserve the details in the water, so I selected a fast shutter speed.” After growing up as a boater in Vermillion, Ohio, Sechel likes to spend as much time on Lake Erie as he can with his wife, Carrie, and their 4 year-old son, Daniel.
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge — Oak Harbor, Ohio
By Terry Martin of Berea, Ohio
Martin used a Nikon D7000 with a Sigma 150-500mm telephoto lens to take this photo of a great egret in midflight. On average, he usually takes around 300 photos to get the one shot he’s looking for, but in this case, it took nearly four days and 500 shots at this specific location to get the final product. “On the day before I took this picture, the egrets had chosen to hang out in a different part of the marsh where it was trickier for us to get shots because of the tall reeds nearby, which obstructed our view of them as they flew close to the water,” he says. The next morning, Martin was excited to find that three dozen egrets had migrated to a different section that offered a better view. “We had to inch forward cautiously in approaching the egrets, for they tend to spook easily,” he says. “It was one of the most exhilarating hours I have ever spent.”
Headlands Beach State Park — Mentor, Ohio
By Susan M. Sansenbaugher of New Springfield, Ohio
Sansenbaugher hadn’t been to Headlands State Park in more than 10 years but decided to make the two-hour drive with a friend and fellow member of the Warren Photography Club to take photos of the beach. “I would consider myself a serious amateur photographer who works to get better every time I go out,” she says. When her friend noticed this man-made structure, she laid down in the sand with her Canon EOS 30D to get some shots with Lake Erie in the background. She had heard of cairns being used to mark hiking trails in rocky areas, but had never seen a beach cairn before. “I thought it captured a more innocent time in our lives that visiting and playing on the beach brings out in all of us."
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