2022 Writing & Video Winners

Best of Show – Ron Belak

“Walk Softly and Carry a Small Stick” ~  1st place Magazine Article category; published in Colorado Outdoors, Jan/Feb 2022 issue. To see and read the piece click here.

This piece goes beyond the how to’s of recreating in the outdoors with a strong message of stewardship, written in an accessible style targeted perfectly to the audience. I was instantly engaged by the vivid opening scene.” – Mary Taylor Young, writing judge

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 35 years. She just finished her 22nd book—Bluebird Seasons: Witnessing Climate Change In My Piece of the Wild—scheduled for spring 2023 publication from Chicago Review Press. Mary’s honors include the 2018 Frank Waters Award for exemplary literary achievement and a canon of writing that communicates a deep understanding, celebration and love of the West; 2019 induction into the Colorado Authors Hall of Fame; 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Authors’ League. She has been a RMOWP contest judge and convention presenter for many years.

Video Judge: Ann Lukacs

Ann 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 and national commercials, 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.”  In addition, Ann has been involved with promoting film production to Colorado.

Note: Comments from the judges appear in italics.

Winning Written Works:

24 Newspaper, Magazine – articles/columns/editorials/short stories
Ron Belak – Walk Softly and Carry a Small Stick. Colorado Outdoors, Jan/Feb 2022. “Excellent piece stressing the importance of outdoors ethics while recreating, presented with particular gravitas because the writer is obviously a long-time (ethical) outdoorsman.”
2nd Michael Salomone – Ohio, Rocky Fork Creek. American Flyfishing, Jan/Feb 2022. “Nice short piece with good imagery and word choice (water-carved arches).
3rd Ron Belak – Marvelous Mayflies. “Engaging look at the insects that are flyfishing headliners, with angling advice on how to ‘match the hatch’.”

26 Newsletter & Web Writing
Virginia Staat – The Doctor Is In. Rocky Mountain Outdoors Jul/Aug 2021. “Entertaining, humorous piece using Lucy from the Peanuts cartoon to demonstrate writing techniques. Good Grief!”
2nd Michael Salomone – Catalina Island and Calico Bass, On the Fly. Echo flyfishing website, 10/6/2021. “Good first-person piece about fishing from an intriguing tourist destination that brings the reader right into the scene.”
3rd Virginia Staat – Telling the Bees. Rocky Mountain Outdoors Jan/Feb 2022. “Charming yet tragic true story of a backyard bee hive and its collapse that engages the heart while informing the mind.”
HM David Staat – A Look at the Evil Empire. Rocky Mountain Outdoors Nov/Dec 2021

28 Unpublished Written Works
Ron Belak – Pushing It at Lost Lake. “Good use of imagery in this engaging personal narrative of fishing a high mountain lake early in the season. Love the angler lingo in ‘rewarded with a firm strike and a bent rod’.”
2nd Maryann Gaug – Am I Sure? “Nice e ssay that conveys a good sense of being with the author. A strong writer’s voice in the prose.”
3rd Maryann Gaug – Where Have All the Squirrels Gone? “Fun tale of encounters over the years with pine squirrels and other wildlife, animals that many readers will know and therefore be engaged by.”
HM Michael Salomone – He Never Said Anything About a Canvasback

Winning Videos:

30 Full Length Video
1st Tie
Dan Bernskoetter – Life as a Runge Volunteer. “The photographer did a good job of documenting the life of a volunteer and all the various aspects involved.  This is a nice slide show but it could be so much more with the addition of some interviews and/or narration.  Another option would be to add some movement on the images.  Right now it is just a dissolve between photos and they all have the same time duration.  Do you have the ability to zoom in or add some panning across the photo?  The music is good but you might want to fade the music in/out between clips. I do like the box with text that you created to tell the story.  However, while the text on screen explains a little, it does not do justice to what I am sure is a great experience volunteering for the nature center.  Please be careful of any grammar errors with your text.  (see final title card).”
1st Tie Dan Bernskoetter – 2021 Trail Camera Videos. “Watching this video makes me want to go buy a trail camera for my house.  I can appreciate how time consuming it was to edit a year’s worth of footage.  However, it is still very long.  Once again, it would have benefited from interviews and/or narration.  Even a voice-over narration would have helped to explain the value of what we were seeing.  The music works well with the nature sounds.  It was interesting watching this evolve over the various seasons. However, we watch 39:28 minutes of animal footage and suddenly we see 7 seconds of a controlled burn.  Is this necessary?  Without a more detailed explanation of why they do the burn, it seems distracting and unnecessary.  Overall, this video makes me want to learn more.”  
2nd Ron Belak – March of the American Dipper
While the story of the American Dipper is interesting, the footage is a little too shaky to focus on the subject.  I think using a tripod would have definitely helped this video.  Instead of showing basically the same shot from the same perspective, maybe you can shoot some B-Roll to use between shots.  You might also consider adding a dissolve between shots.  I like the last shot where the bird flies out of frame.  Nice addition of credits at the end.  I never knew about the American Dipper.  This is what makes documentary story telling fun.   

31 Video Clips
1st Tie
Deanna Harrington – Anan Black Bear Fishing. “This is another version of the bear “fishing”.  The bear action quickly catches a fish and moves on.  I like watching the bear exit between the rocks that you do not see in the previous clip.  Both versions are very well done and they both give the editor choices depending on the story.”
1st Tie Frank Zurey – Waiting for a Salmon. “The composition and lighting are very nice.  I like the way the bear studies the water in search of fish.  The clip is a good a length and gives the editor enough footage to choose from.  I especially like that the clip allows the bear to leave the frame.   The footage is steady and the use of a tripod is appreciated.”
2nd Dan Bernskoetter – Channel Catfish Feeding. “There is something mesmerizing about this clip.  Not sure why it is purple (aquarium?) but in this case it works.  I like how the fish come and go in the frame.  Good use of holding the frame and not trying to follow any one fish.  Good focal length.  The fish work the frame and almost seem to say hello to the viewer.”
3rd Dan Bernskoetter – Whitetail Doe Grooming Yearling. “This is a good composition, good focal length and lighting.  I wish you could see the deer on the right from a different angle.  The first 10 seconds work good.” 
HM Dan Bernskoetter – Whitetail Ranch Nature View. “Flower field.  Nice drone shot over the flowers.  Wish there was a bit more sun on the flowers to make them ‘pop’.”