2021 Writing and Video Contest results

Best of Show: Ron Belak

book; fishing guide
“The Fishing Guide to 800 High Lakes in Colorado” © Ron Belak

“The Fishing Guide to 800 High Lakes in Colorado” © Ron Belak ~ 1st Place Books
“A hefty, information-loaded book that gives readers plenty of bang for their book-buying buck that goes beyond a serviceable-but-dull guide book. The author inserts engaging comments that make the text more interesting to read for example referencing Never Sweat Lake with the comment ‘a name many anglers would disagree with.’ ” ~ Judge Mary Taylor Young

Writing Judge: Mary Taylor Young

Author and naturalist Mary Taylor Young has been writing about the landscape and heritage of Colorado and the American West for 34 years. Her 20 books include Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years and Land of Grass and Sky: A Naturalist’s Prairie Journey. She has published hundreds of magazine, newspaper and web articles and her Words On Birds column appeared in the Rocky Mountain News for 16 years. She is the 2018 Frank Waters Award honoree for exemplary literary achievement and a canon of writing that communicates a deep understanding, celebration and love of the West. In 2019, Mary was inducted into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame and in 2020 she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Authors’ League. recipients include Barbara Kingsolver, Tony Hillerman and CJ Box. Mary lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with her family.

Video Judge: Ann Lukacs

Ann Lukacs fell in love with photography at an early age.  She has been working in the camera department in the motion picture industry for over 40 years.  Her industry experience coupled with her knowledge of living in the mountains has unwittingly realigned some of her work to location scouting.  In addition to working on major studio feature films, she works as an independent filmmaker.  Working as a filmmaker has given her the experience of storytelling and how to combine all the various elements of production to create the final film.  Ann is the President/CEO of the “Park County Creative Alliance”, a newly formed nonprofit with the vision to “Unite Park County Through the Arts.”  Ann, also, sits on the Board of Arts for Colorado, a state arts advocacy organization.  In addition, Ann has been involved with promoting film production to Colorado.

Winning Written Works

(Judges comments appear in italics.)

24 Newspaper Magazine – articles/columns/editorials
 Michael Salomone “Summer Smoke” TROUT Magazine, Winter 2021. “Well-written article that on the surface is about fishing a treasured, high-elevation stream but becomes an ode to the values and spiritual connections of wilderness and native wildlife. Also a cautionary tale about the threats of climate change to ecosystems.”
2nd Ron Belak “Fire in the Flat Tops” Colorado Outdoors, 2003 Fishing Guide. “Highly-informative and well-written article on two major wildfires and their far-reaching impacts. Lots of information presented in a readable style that keeps you turning the page.”
3rd Michael Salomone “They Will Always Be Blues” Upland Almanac, Autumn 2020. “Good article on hunting dusky grouse—formerly known as blue grouse—in the high country and how the species’ name has meaning to the writer. This point carries the story beyond a standard hunting account.”

26 Newsletter & Web writing
 Virginia Staat “A Run-In with the Run-On” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, Sep-Oct 2020. “Very entertaining and clever essay on the run-on sentence, incorporating writing advice and anecdotes and the fact William Faulkner wrote a 1288-word sentence that earned a Guinness World Record—who knew?!–but this writing judge would never run-on like that, oh no, never.”
2nd Michael Salomone “Small Water Winter Fly Fishing Tips and Techniques” FlyLords, March 19, 2021. “Information-packed guide to winter fly fishing, well-targeted to its audience.”
3rd Virginia Staat “Sensory Perception” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, Mar-Apr 2020. “Brief but well-done essay likening the sensory techniques used by visual artists to the techniques writers use to experience and re-create sensory details.”
HM Richard Holmes “The Gift of Reading” Rocky Mountain Outdoors, Mar-Apr 2021. “An entertaining, stream-of-consciousness essay exploring the writer’s love of, and appreciation for, reading. Good job connecting with a like-minded audience.”

28 Unpublished Written Works
 Judy Lehmkuhl “The Scent of the Sea” “Strong, sensory poem effectively using rhyme and capturing the poet’s deep connection to a landscape.”
2nd Richard Holmes “Are You Listening”  “Nice essay about the often-lacking skill of listening. Extra points for this phrase: ‘…when a person has more to say…with a raised finger (no, not that one).’”
3rd Maryann Gaug “Fire, Ice, and Waterfalls”  “Vivid travelogue about Iceland, with great detail creating a sense of place for the reader.’ “
HM Michael Salomone “Three Fates, the Highwaymen and a Bobber”  “Nice story intertwining significant moments from the writer’s youth with his lifelong love of fishing.”

35 Books 
 Ron Belak “Fishing Guide to 800 High Lakes in Colorado” BookBaby, April 2021.  “Densely packed with information and illustrated with scenic shots and maps this book is also entertaining to read, even for a non-angler.”

Winning Videos

(Judges comments appear in italics.)

30 Video
 Ron Belak “Fishing High Mountain Lakes in Colorado’s Backcountry”  “There is a lot of work that went into this video.  It is an instructional video with a lot of graphics, photographs and text inserted.  There isn’t much actual live video, however.  It is very informative but probably has a limited audience of high-altitude fishermen.  While some background about the author at the beginning of the video added to the credibility of the information, I don’t think he needed to advertise his books since they are featured at the end of the video.”
 Virginia Staat “Flight of the Wren”  “This is a really sweet video that documents the early days of wrens in their nest and their journey to leave the nest.  The story is told as a voice-over and she does a good job at describing the day-to-day nesting experience, as well as informing the viewer about this type of bird.”

31 Video Clips
 Virginia Staat “Hummer in Torpor Attack”  “Good steady, clean clip.  Interesting interaction as one hummingbird seems to attack the other.  I like how they just drop out of frame.  Technically, shooting long lens gives you a shallow depth of field but it works in this case.” 
 David Staat “Croc 2021 Brazos Bend”  “The alligator fills the frame which makes it a useable clip.  Good clip length with lead in / out.  Technically, it would be difficult to do a smooth pan but the operator does that while keeping the camera steady.” 
 Virginia Staat – Hawk Attack by Mockingbird Parents  “This is a good clip of a hawk that has the action of other birds interacting and nudging the hawk.  This action makes the clip interesting.  I would have liked the camera to be steadier.  This is a case where the camera should be on a tripod and basically locked down to let the hawk play within the frame.” 
 Dan Bernskoetter “Short Nature Video”  “The video isn’t really what the rules asked for.  This is basically a short video with multiple clips cut together.  It isn’t one complete clip with lead time/exit.  I do feel like it is a nice little segment which is why I am giving it an honorable mention.”