Officer exhibits uncanny passion for Army Digital Photography Contest
February 27, 2013
By Tim Hipps
SAN ANTONIO (Feb. 27, 2013) -- Without even winning a category, Capt. Robert Shaw was the most decorated photographer in the 2012 Army Digital Photography Contest.
Shaw, stationed at Camp Zama, Japan, took runner-up honors in the active duty monochrome category with "Sunday in Tokyo," a black-and-white snapshot of life in Shinjuku on a Sunday morning when the main thoroughfare is closed to vehicular traffic and pedestrians flood the streets. He wanted to emphasize patterns and repetition in the scene, hoping the details, leading lines and central vanishing point would spark curiosity.
Shaw took third place in the animal category with "Sentinel," a photo of Japanese macaques taken during an Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation trip from Camp Zama to Jigokudani Monkey Park, near Nagano. The snow monkeys relax, bathe and play in natural hot springs. Though many of the juveniles typically are rambunctious, this particular parent kept a watchful eye on her baby. Shaw relied on a narrow depth of field to place focus on the faces and, especially, the macaques' expressive eyes.
In the same category, Shaw received an honorable mention for "Respite," which was taken on Hawaii's North Shore, where giant green sea turtles bask on the beach.
"Taking advantage of the trips that MWR offers, especially in a foreign country, has allowed my family to visit places that we wouldn't think to visit otherwise," Shaw said. "Because of the contests' various categories, we are more aware of our surroundings and take that extra time to setup, frame, capture, and savor each scene we visit."
The annual Army Digital Photography Contest features eight categories of photos and contestants compete in two divisions: active-duty personnel and other Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation patrons. The categories are people, military life, nature and landscapes, animals, still life, design elements, digital darkroom and monochrome.
"There are so many great entries that are submitted each year, that it's a real honor to be recognized among them," Shaw said. "It's certainly a confidence booster and helps justify the amount of time and effort spent taking and processing photos. At the same time, it spurs me to push further and want to learn more."
Shaw also took third place in the design elements category with "Shinjuku Junction," a time-elapsed photo of an array of automobile headlights and taillights buzzing around towering skyscrapers. He combined long exposures with the high dynamic range technique to extract the vibrant colors and details from this dynamic scene, contrasting the river of traffic flowing against the static skyline.
He earned an honorable mention in the same category with "Tokyo Starfish," a helicopter view of intersecting roads near Tokyo Tower in the Roppongi district of Tokyo.
"I have learned most of my equipment and post-processing techniques by experimenting and researching the Internet: YouTube, photo tutorials, blogs, etcetera," said Shaw, 36, who bought his first digital single lens reflex camera in late 2010 at the encouragement of his wife, who wanted better vacation photos when they traveled abroad.
"The Army has afforded me so many great opportunities to travel that it only made sense to take advantage of my downtime by photographing the scenery and people around me," Shaw said. "My goal is to dabble a little bit in every genre and to build a well-rounded portfolio that will hopefully attract jobs. I love motorsports photography, but I am currently exploring more off-camera lighting for portrait photography."
Shaw earned more honorable mentions with "Firepower" and "Mission Complete" in the military life category. "Firepower" was captured during an annual military firepower exercise near Mount Fuji and shot with a fast shutter speed in "burst" mode to capture the shock wave exiting the barrel. "Mission Complete" highlights the exuberance and camaraderie shared between Medical Detachment Command-Japan Soldiers upon completion of a successful range operation.
In the people category, Shaw received another honorable mention for "Zama Killer Katanas," a striking portrait of Camp Zama's roller-derby team. The Zama Killer Katanas instantly became a local sensation and quickly began supporting the community, eliciting reciprocation from Shaw, who used off-camera flashes and modifiers to capture their personalities.
Discovering and flourishing in the Army Digital Photography Contest inspired Shaw to take his hobby to another level.
"I first heard about the contest through Camp Zama MWR Arts and Crafts," he said. "I am also a member of the Camp Zama Photo Club, which has been a great undertaking for the small installation. Members encourage each other to submit photos through peer review during our bi-weekly meetings and through our Facebook presence."
Maj. Ian Lee, of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., won the active duty people category with a dashing shot of a boogie boarder called "Wave Warrior." He also took third place in monochrome with "Picking Persimmons."
Maj. Ryan Foley won the design elements category with "Flying Grip," a photo of eight fighter jets flying in formation that might make civilians enlist just to witness such breathtaking sights.
Another amazing photo earned an honorable mention in the active-duty military life division: "Hot Brass" by Maj. Sean Phillips of Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Two photos that garnered honorable mentions in the active duty nature/landscapes category resembled great places to be at the end of a day: "Jamaican Sunset" by Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jessica Veltri of Fort Belvoir, Va., and "Smoky Mountain Sunset" by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott Morgan of Fort Rucker, Ala.
Morgan also took second place in the still life category with "Candied Apples."
Robert LaPolice, a veteran winner of Army photography contests from Selfridge Army National Guard/U.S. Army Garrison Detroit, won the civilian design elements category with "A Wing and a Prayer."
Richard Banker of Albuquerque, N.M., represented the Army Corps of Engineers with a third-place finish in the civilian design elements category with "Morning Colors."
"I can say that I was really impressed with the image quality and subject matter this year," said Sam Roberts, one of the contest judges. "Who would have thought a sewing machine head could look so cool -- or those monkeys? Wow! I'm thinking that you have some pro or at least semi-pro photographers in your midst. The trend of high definition effects has definitely taken over. It may be just a fad, but it does bring something to the table that a 'straight' photo does not. That, coupled with higher quality images direct from the camera and additional Photoshop techniques, have made a huge difference in the overall impact of the digital files."
Judge Rudy Lopez, who manages the Arts and Crafts Center at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, Texas, echoed that sentiment.
"Serving on the judging panel for the Army's MWR yearly photo contest continues to be an inspirational endeavor," Lopez said. "Participating artists have once again proved that photography goes beyond the mere point-and-shoot ideology, proving that this is in fact an art.
"Capturing particular moments in time -- from world travels to emotionally personal aspects of both military and everyday life -- these entries were true life stories frozen in time."
2012 Army Digital Photography Contest
A list of winners in the 2012 Army Digital Photography Contest with category place, military rank, name, duty station and name of photo:
Division I -- Active duty military
People: 1. Maj. Ian Lee, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., "Wave Warrior;" 2. Maj. Ryan Foley, Area II Yongsan, South Korea, "Cambodian Monks;" 3. Staff Sgt. Sharilyn Wells, Fort Bragg, N.C., "Remembering Bobby."
Military life: 2. Sgt. Brian Bohannon, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, "Best Seat in the House;" 3. Sgt. 1st Class Oliver Kirkham, Torii Station, Japan, "These Boots Were Made for Walking."
Nature & landscapes: 1. Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra, Grafenwoehr, Germany, "City of Regensburg;" 2. Lt. Col. Kim Chaney, Fort Knox, Ky., "Peaceful Morn;" 3. Maj. Paul Johnston, Fort Lee, Va., "March Musk."
Animals: 1. Staff Sgt. Ian Mosher, Fort Rucker, Ala., "Save Me Monkey;" 2. Capt. Michelle Parlette, U.S. Army Garrison Vicenza, Italy, "Guitar Dream;" 3. Capt. Robert Shaw, Camp Zama, Japan, "Sentinel."
Still life: 1. Sgt. Daniel Carroll, Camp Humphreys, South Korea, "Water the Flowers;" 2. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott Morgan, Fort Rucker, Ala., "Candied Apples;" 3.
Design elements: 1. Maj. Ryan Foley, Area II Yongsan, Korea, "Flying Grip;" 2. Maj. Ronald Havard, Fort Hood, Texas, "Afghan Desert;" 3. Capt. Robert Shaw, Camp Zama, Japan, "Shinjuku Junction."
Digital darkroom: 1. Capt. Daniel McCarey, Fort Meade, Md., "Florence -- HDR;" 2. Staff Sgt. Sharilyn Wells, Fort Bragg, N.C., "An Ol' Faithful Friend;" 3. Capt. Brian Cooper, Joint Base MDL, "Bashful Puppy."
Monochrome: 1. Staff Sgt. Pablo Piedra, Grafenwoehr, Germany, "St. Coloman's Church;" 2. Capt. Robert Shaw, Camp Zama, Japan, "Sunday in Tokyo;" 3. Maj. Ian Lee, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.; "Picking Persimmons."
Division II -- Other MWR eligible patrons
People: 1. John Powers, Camp Zama, Japan, "Down and Out Japanese Style;" 2. Allison Marschean, Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, "Service with a Smile;" 3. Michael Villalpando, Camp Zama, Japan, "Asian Beauty."
Military life: 1. Linda Steil, Heidelberg, Germany, "No Man Left Behind;" 2. Crystal Stupar, Bamberg, Germany, "No More Pictures Mom;" 3. Ashley Jones, Fort Hood, Texas, "Heroes for Heroes."
Nature & landscapes: 1. Raymond Perez, Area II Yongsan, South Korea, "Devotion Slab;" 2. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, "Bits of Ice;" 3. John Waggoner, Selfridge Army National Guard/U.S. Army Garrison Detroit, "Mesa Arch Sunrise."
Animals: 1. Laura Bland, Hunter Army Airfield/Fort Stewart, Ga., "Orange Crush;" 2. Eric Armstrong, Camp Zama, Japan, "Sleek Elegance;" 3. Michael Freeman, Fort Bragg, N.C., "Through the Looking Glass."
Still life: 1. Deanthony Williams, Camp Humphreys, South Korea, "The Broom;" 2. Cara Smith, Stuttgart, Germany, "My Machine;" 3. Craig Lifton, Fort Hood, Texas, "Old Cash Register."
Design elements: 1. Robert LaPolice, Selfridge Army National Guard/U.S. Army Garrison Detroit, "A Wing and a Prayer;" 2. John Powers, Camp Zama, Japan, "Ripples;" 3. Richard Banker, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque, N.M., "Morning Colors."
Digital darkroom: 1. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, "Klementium Library;" 2. Dianna Hauf, Fort Rucker, Ala., "SOME Summer;" 3. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, "Forgotten Farm."
Monochrome: 1. John Waggoner, Selfridge Army National Guard/U.S. Army Garrison Detroit, "Starry Night;" 2. Mylan Dawson, Kaiserslautern, Germany, "The Hallgrimskirkja;" 3. Edward Coleman, Vicenza, Italy, "Prague Castle B&W."