Winners tapped for annual HCA calendar
Special to the Courier
Thirteen exceptional photographs of the Texas Hill Country were selected for the Hill Country Alliance's always anticipated 2014 calendar.
Among those chosen from HCA's annual photo contest, four impressive shots were selected for special recognition by an HCA committee of local artists and area conservationists.
"Each year, when we issue the call for photos for our next calendar, we are impressed - but not surprised - by the exceptionally lovely examples of natural beauty that are entered in our contest," said HCA Executive Director Christy Muse. "It's no wonder that the calendar is prized not only by Texans, but nature lovers everywhere who appreciate the unique qualities of the Texas Hill Country."
HCA's Texas Hill Country Calendar serves as a year-round reminder of the need to nurture this growing region in ways that protect its beauty and valuable natural resources. Along with spectacular photography, the calendar promotes land conservation, groundwater protection, habitat preservation and land stewardship strategies.
Winners of the 2014 Photo Contest include:
• Grand prize, "Bluebonnet Railroad" by Tim Huchton - This stunning photo of bluebonnets crowding a railroad track was taken in April 2013 in Kingsland. Huchton, who lives in Ingram and teaches photography, said, "Nature, landscape and people are all favorite subjects of mine." More of his work is available at www.timhuchtonphotography.com.
• First prize, "Batman" by Marvin Gohlke Jr. - Last summer, Gohlke took the photo of his son at the Frio Bat Cave near Concan. "It was our first trip to the cave and my son was extremely fascinated with the emergence of the bats in evening ... he put his hands up as if he were flying with the bats, which were darting all around very near him," Gohlke said.
He continued, "We recently purchased land on the Guadalupe River between Kerrville and Ingram, which now not just makes me a lover of the beauty of the Guadalupe, but also a steward of helping to preserve that beauty." Another of his photos, taken on the North Fork of the Guadalupe River near Hunt, is also featured in the calendar.
• Second prize, "Grotto at Westcave Preserve" by Mike Murphy - "I made the grotto image in about 2005 ... the weather that afternoon alternated between sun and gentle rain, giving the grotto an other-worldly character," Murphy said.
A former photography editor for Texas Highways magazine, he has taken photos all over Texas, both for the magazine and as a freelance photographer. Murphy and his family live on Los Madrones Ranch, near Dripping Springs, which he now operates for nature tourism.
• Third prize "Urban Deer" by Cynthia Burgin - Burgin caught this doe finishing off a potted plant and licking her lips as if to say, "What's next?" on her property, which backs up to natural land owned by Schreiner University and overlooks downtown Kerrville.
Burgin also noted that she had no idea the deer population was so large and friendly when she moved in and it took a while to realize that most potted plants weren't going to survive.
She is also very active in her local Master Naturalists group and takes photographs wherever she goes - some of which the group uses on its website and in displays.
The panel of judges included Colleen Gardner of Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve; Scott Gardner of the CL Browning Ranch; professional artist Lynda Young Kaffie; and professional author and photographer Brian Loflin.
Calendars are available through the HCA website, www.hillcountryalliance.org. Wholesale prices for Hill Country retailers and special bulk order prices for businesses and organizations are also available.
A nonprofit organization, the Hill Country Alliance raises public awareness and builds community support to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country.