LIMA — Mary Birkemeier didn’t even realize what she’d captured with her photograph at first.
“It was like a 150-year-old tree, and we were splitting the trunk of it,” said Birkemeier, of Ottawa. “This one happened to be rotten inside, so that black was all rotted parts. It was just so interesting, and I thought, ‘I’m going to take a picture.’ Then the faces showed up, after I had the picture taken and I looked at it closer.”
Birkemeier’s “Images in the wood” took the best of show honors in The Lima News’ 25th annual Amateur Photo Competition, winning her the top prize of a $100 gift card.
The Lima News received 273 entries this year in nine categories: abstract, action/sports, animals, candid, candid kids, flowers, landscape/scenic, portrait and still life. Photos were submitted online in July and August. Today, the best of show and abstract categories appear, while other category winners will be unveiled throughout the week. All entries in a category can be seen in photo galleries on LimaOhio.com once the winners are announced.
This year’s competition was judged by Erin Johnson, art teacher at Elida High School; Kristin Lee, director of arts and magnet programs at Lima schools, and Sally Windle, executive director of ArtSpace/Lima. Judges were given the right to move photographs into different categories if all three agreed a photo belonged in a different category.
The panel engaged in a hearty debate over all the photographs but really mulled over the best of show category. Birkemeier’s submission, entered in the abstract category, went head to head with the winners of the candid kids and still life categories and won over the judges.
“I love the texture that you get in this one,” Johnson said. “It almost looks like a face, then you start investigating it further. It’s crisp. They really caught the detailing.”
Lee added, “Even though it’s just muted colors, I like the contrast. It’s really dark in there.”
Birkemeier said she’s always enjoyed taking photos as a hobby. This one became a fast favorite that she showed to friends and family.
Birkemeier said she took the photograph with her Android phone, showing how much photography has improved on small devices.
“It’s clear enough you can look at it and find detailing,” Windle said. “It causes you to circle around and see more of the composition.”