WESTERLY — Nicolas Foster said, he swam out from shore one evening and “just got lucky.”
As the sunset sliced through the jean-blue clouds and turned the water gold, the surf photographer and graphic designer snapped a photo of the horizon while a wave curled in front of his lens like fingers.
In capturing the tunnel effect, Foster took a photo that would garner him a first-place finish in the South County Tourism Council’s photo contest, the results of which were announced recently.
There were three first-place winners across three different categories – A Beautiful Place, Love at the Beach, and Fairs and Festivals.
Foster took first in the 21st annual contest’s Beautiful Place category.
Approximately 436 total entries were submitted to the tourism council and judged by Christine Corrigan -— a freelance photographer of 30 years who spent 10 years as a staff photographer at the Westerly Sun.
Those who finished in first place earned a $500 prize, with second place rewarding $250 to each silver finisher and $125 to every third place finisher. Each category named four runners up, who went home with $50 each.
Diane Zerba of Charlestown finished just behind Foster – good for second place in their category. Zerba captured a reflection of the sky in the sand on the beach in Charlestown.
Third place went to Stacy Clark of Pawcatuk, Conn., who snapped a photo of the Watch Hill Lighthouse in Westerly.
Foster began shooting photos in eighth grade. He uses a Sony A7R3 and Sony A60-500 with water housing when taking photos off-shore.
“My favorite part (about taking photos) … it’s really nice if you’re doing surf photos or any sports photos of somebody, where you can get a really good photo of them and they get happy about it,” he said. “Or for myself, if I’m doing that or it’s just an empty wave, I can kind of see when I’m swimming. I’ll take probably 1,000 pictures, 980 are gonna be terrible, maybe more. But then, you can always kind of tell if you look in the water and see on the screen — when everything lines up. The light is good, everything’s in focus. Yeah, it’s a good feeling.”
For Gina Campbell, one of her favorite aspects of photography is looking at her surroundings differently through the lens.
“To me that’s kind of the magic that happens,” Campbell said, who came in first place in the contest’s Fairs and Festivals category.
Campbell uses a Canon DSLR, a gift from her husband back in 2008.
“I’m always practicing some kind of technique or something I need work on. And I like to capture at sunrise or sunset because that’s a softer light,” she said.
Campbell came across her first-place shot while at the Charlestown Seafood Festival.
She was there to work on shutter speed and focus.
“I like to go to the fair to shoot fireworks,” Campbell said. “They look like sea anemones.”
While photo hunting, she took a shot of a group of people on one of the fair rides.
“This poor kid was sitting in the ride with two girls ignoring him and it looks like he really wanted their attention,” Campbell said.
Claiming second place in the Fairs and Festivals category was Todd Gianguzzi, of Narragansett, who took a photo of the Narragansett 8 performing at a show.
Tammy Anderson, of West Kingston, earned third place, with a shot entitled “The Sounds of Summer.”
Campbell’s second-place shot was a Love at the Beach entry, an image of a duo she assumed was a father and a child.
“That was taken in the spring at Narragansett Beach,” she said. “They just looked like they were having a great time, they had that bond when they looked at each other.”
Campbell, who is from Wakefield, likes to offer free photoshoots for children and families in her local area.
Campbell said she enjoys shooting emotion, something that is plentiful across a child’s face.
“They’re just so innocent and just so fun,” Campbell said. “You don’t know what you’re gonna capture.”
Barbara McCormick, of Palmetto, Fla., finished first in the Love at the Beach category.
“I’ve been taking photos for forever … at least since I was gifted my first camera when I was 13 – a Pentax K-1000,” she said. “That was 47 yrs ago. Nowadays, I just use my iPhone. They take fantastic quality photos.”
McCormick took a photo in South Kingstown, showing a couple walking the shoreline while holding hands on a foggy day.
“I always make a point of walking the beach on dreary days. It’s the best,” McCormick said. “This couple with blue walked right into my frame and actually made the shot much better. Call it good timing, I guess.”
In third place in the category was Franca Bartkiewitz of West Kingston, who snapped a photo of a mother holding up a child in Westerly.
Photo contest winners and runners up can be viewed on the South County Tourism Council’s website at: https://www.southcountyri.com/plan-a-trip/photo-contest/
For McCormick, her favorite part about taking photos is plain and simple.
“I love that the memories live on.”