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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Happy Happy Happy
“Sometimes I just need to make myself happy.” I’ve been saying that sentence, mostly silently, quite a bit lately. Writing it out, I realize it can be read a bit selfishly, as in, I just need to make MYSELF happy (and by implication, the heck with “you” whoever you might be). That’s not exactly how I mean it. I’ve been emphasizing the words “I” and “need” and “make” – meaning, sometimes, my naturally bubbly nature isn’t, and I need to take some deliberate action to shift my attitude over toward the positive.

Usually a failsafe shifter for me is time outside. Well, we all know what this winter has been like. Let’s just say that even here on the Outer Banks, we’ve had more than our share of stormy, rainy, miserable, stay inside weather. Hence the quote that started this blog.

I got my chance this past Saturday. Saturday was, in a word, gorgeous. Warmer, sunny, light breeze. Perfect. And it just happened to be Pete’s and my 17th anniversary. We usually try to have a getaway of some kind, but not this year. We are still in the middle of what has turned into a very long, drawn out gallery and frame shop move, mostly thanks to that miserable weather I mentioned. He really needed to take advantage of both the sunshine and our grandson’s being home on spring break to move more frame shop supplies. I started the day pouty about that, if you want to know the truth. And then I thought, I just need to make myself happy. So I went to the ocean.

Once I actually got out on the beach, my mood lightened considerably, helped by the three pieces of sea glass and seven shell fragment hearts I found. By the time I was picking up the third or fourth heart, I felt immensely loved and profoundly grateful. All the rest were a bonus, emphasizing abundance in a way I could see and touch and put in my pocket to share with Pete later. North of the spot I was walking I could see a good number of what looked like gannets and gulls. I walked a little ways but the birds kept moving north. I headed back to the car and drove to a closer access. When I got to that stretch of beach I was overjoyed to see pelicans, lots of pelicans and most in full breeding colors. They and the gulls were diving for fish. Well, I say the gulls were diving—they were, until the numbers of pelicans increased and the gulls decided it would be much easier to steal the pelicans’ fish rather than do their own catching. I could not see the details until I downloaded the photographs, but at one point, one pelican had two fish in its beak at once and a third had just escaped! Fishing folks will know much better than I do what these fish were. They were all good sized.

The other happy news to report is that by March 12, I saw the first osprey of the season back at the Colington marina. By March 14, the pair that has nested there for at least 17 years was reunited once again. Their nest is in fairly decent shape after our windy winter; the pair across the harbor is not so lucky. They had to begin building from scratch, since their platform had not one limb when they arrived. Both male and female osprey are back in the nest outside the gate; these are the birds that soar over my house in the morning when I am out with the dogs. (On nice days, this is; no soaring in the wind and rain we have had for the past few days). Today I saw one osprey in the tree across from the cemetery on Colington Road, where a pair successfully nested for the first time last year. Seeing the osprey return always makes me believe in spring, even when the weather does not seem to have gotten the memo.

Tomorrow friend Karen Watras and I are headed out for a long overdue day together in some sunshine. If we have any adventures worth sharing, I will let you know. Meanwhile, enjoy below what little sunshine the Outer Banks has had thus far since my last blog, and make yourselves happy.

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First Sighting -- March 12. Only saw one osprey, the male, that afternoon.

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Whew! Here is the female osprey, that Karen named and I now call "Grace." We always hold our breath until we know both Grace and Henry made the trip home safely.

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Here is the devoted couple. I'm not being anthropomorphic here. Osprey, as is true with other large birds, mate for life.

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Lots of pelicans out and about on our warmer, sunny Saturday.

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Lots of Gulls, too…and that is when things began to get interesting.

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I've thought of all sorts of captions for this one, such as "go catch your own fish!"

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No sooner would a pelican dive and come up with a catch, and the gulls would swoop in.

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Sometimes, LOTS of gulls...

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Can you see the fish that is trying to escape?

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Regular readers know just how much I love pelicans, and how connected I feel to them. Every opportunity to watch them, whether resting, perching, preening, feeding, or flying, is a gift.

posted by eturek at 11:19 PM

Comments [2]

Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Winter Is For The Birds
Here is one thing I have come to appreciate about winter—well, in theory, this is. Since we own a business that is more seasonal than year-round, winter provides a window of time to rest and reflect, to plan ahead, to enjoy some less scheduled time, particularly time outside. As I said, it’s a theory. This year’s winter weather has kept me looking through a window, sure enough, more than I planned for. And the weather has created unforeseen delays in finishing our gallery move, so Pete is not resting at all, and I am not resting as much as I hoped. Nonetheless, despite the seemingly endless round of gray, wet days (we are having another in that series today), winter has given unexpected gifts. Most of these gifts for me have come wrapped in feathers.

I’m not one of those birders who keeps a “life list” although lately I’ve thought maybe I should. Not so that I can check off accomplishments like I do my to-do task list—that feels much more like rote than wonder, to me. But I want to remember where and when I received these life-gifts, how I felt in those moments. Photography helps me do that. Journaling helps me do that. And this blog helps me do that.

A longtime friend who now lives near Wanchese called at the end of February. We hadn’t talked for a while, so we caught each other up on our news and then she said a magic word: bluebirds. Bluebirds? You have bluebirds?!? I have begun, slowly, to feed songbirds again this winter. I stopped several years ago because between me and my next door neighbor, two of our four collective kitties were birders. I felt bad about luring the little birds to breakfast only to have many of them become the lunch special. So I quit putting out seed. But over time, two of the four kitties have crossed the rainbow bridge and the two that remain are more mellow, and more apt to listen when I remind them that I will take care of their needs for food, and that the winged ones are their brothers and sisters. So far, so good. But I have never had bluebirds in my yard. She invited me over and I went! She has several pairs that have wintered with her, and we spent a wonderful ninety minutes, sharing the birds and easy conversation. I left her home more relaxed than I have been in a very long time.

While there, she told me about a friend of hers whose yard has been graced this winter with a pair of Western Tanagers! I’ve heard of these colorful birds but never seen one on my travels out west. She made a call and a couple of days later, I was on my way to another encounter, this time with a gracious hostess and winged ambassadors from the part of the country I think of as my heart’s second home. The Tanagers are spookier than my friend’s bluebirds, so we settled ourselves inside and watched through her windows. The Tanagers would fly in, feed for a couple of minutes, and then disappear for twenty or thirty minutes. Waiting for them, I got to watch a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird just coming into its breeding plumage. In all the days I photographed a mother hummingbird at its nest last summer, I never once got a glimpse of the daddy, so being so close to a male—even from behind glass—was a thrill and a gift.

I’ve seen several ducks this winter I had never seen before. The southern end of the Oregon Inlet bridge has sheltered Harlequin Ducks, and now there are six of those, including two males, in the little flock. When I checked on them last week, I also saw my first White-winged Scoter, a sea duck that is in the same family as Surf Scoters, and I saw my first of those on a CNPA outing at sunrise to Duck Pier earlier in February.

Lastly, I learned of a Great Horned Owl that had been spotted atop the osprey nest on a channel marker near the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. It had been seen there for a couple of days, so I went down to check for myself. Sure enough, there it was! I assumed at first it was resting, or injured, but since then I have learned more about Great Horned Owls. They take over large nests of other birds, like eagles or hawks or herons. The theory among those birders who have seen it, and have more knowledge than I do, is that this is a nesting female. Why in the world she picked a nest over water, instead of one over land, is beyond all of us. And what in the world will happen when the osprey come home and find their house has been commandeered by our largest owl is beyond us, too. Stay tuned for more developments on that one! When Bald Eagles took over an osprey nest in Kitty Hawk, the osprey gave up trying to reoccupy and built a new nest down the road. Maybe the same thing will happen here.

In the midst of all our wet and gray, which has included another round of sleet since I last wrote, my daffodils are blooming, quince and forsythia are in flower, and I have emerging buds on many of the trees in my yard. We’ve had isolated days of moderate temperatures, and the plants seem to be hop-scotching themselves toward springtime in these warmer spells. Me, too. I went soundside for a sudden vibrant orange sunset a couple of weeks ago after a long gray day, and saw a thin slice of rainbow in the east as the sun lit the sky on fire in the west. That’s another gift of winter, that vibrancy. We just don’t see the same skyscapes in summer’s humidity and haze.

At this point, I’d trade that clear cold vibrancy for some genuine warm sunshine, even if humidity has to come along for the ride. Meanwhile, maybe our winter visitors in their gussied-up breeding wardrobes will gladden your hearts as much as they did mine.

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Here is one Eastern Bluebird pair. I used to enjoy them as a child growing up in VA. I haven't watched bluebirds at leisure since childhood.

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I call this "Winter Visit" partly because these birds visited our area in winter, and partly because I had the chance to visit with the friend at whose home these birds are feeding.

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Here are the Western Tanagers! How great is that?!?

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While waiting for the Tanagers, we watched this male hummer come to the feeder.

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Here is one of the two Scoters I saw. This is the White-winged Scoter at Oregon Inlet. You can see here how it got its name.

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And here are all six Harlequins. When the second male first showed up, the other would not let it near, but I saw them all together one afternoon.

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Here is the Great Horned Owl. I had never seen one in the wild before, although I have heard them at times at night in Colington.

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Sunday afternoon was warm and lovely, and we had our SIL and grandson visit, so we took them out to the beach at Oregon Inlet. There were hundreds of gannets and small flocks of these Bonaparte Gulls.

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I watch for the possibility of a vibrant sunset if the sky is clear at the horizon after an overcast or stormy day. Bingo!

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I got rained on while the sun was setting, which was a cue to turn around and look east. Bingo again! Rainbow! I heard folks in Kitty Hawk by the ocean saw a full double.

posted by eturek at 11:24 AM

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Thursday, February 13, 2014
Winter Wonders
I decided on the title of this blog—Winter Wonders—before our latest snowfall this past Tuesday. Most of the folks I know here, hubby Pete included, just wonder when winter will be over! I have to be careful whom I say this to, but having grown up in northern Virginia and having moved here in 1976, I get excited to see snow falling on the dunes and frosting all the live oaks and pine trees.

I was fortunate enough on Tuesday to get out of my driveway before the snow began to accumulate to the point where I was stuck inside. The timing of snowfall was great from that perspective. Roads were snowy but not icy when I was out, but I still got to experience plenty of falling and blowing snow and plenty already piled and drifted by the sea between about 2 and 4:30 pm.

Regular readings of obx connection already are aware that we had a harbor seal hauled out to rest for several days on the Kitty Hawk/KDH beaches, and that it was apparently injured, as it died after four or five days. I’m glad I had the chance to see it and whisper my own thanks. I’d like to think that somehow this creature was aware of all the good feelings that surrounded it from NEST volunteers who checked on it from time to time, and from good neighbors who kept making sure it could rest undisturbed. I hope our collective presence made its passing more peaceful.

On impulse one afternoon I drove over to Alligator River Refuge; I like to drive down Wildlife Drive as well as Sawyer Lake/Buffalo City roads just to see who is out and about. No bear still, but for the second winter in a row, at exactly the same time of day, I saw a bobcat way off in the distance. Sure would like a closer look someday, but am so glad my impulse yielded an encounter, no matter how distant. Even with my long lens it was mostly a speck.

My other encounter of note came as I was driving home from my snowy adventures Tuesday. I live back in Colington and my intention was to go down to the marina and check out the live oaks there in the snow. But as I was driving, I had the sudden impulse to drive through Swan View Shores instead. I’m learning to pay attention to these intuitive nudges, so I turned left instead of heading straight and was rewarded within five minutes by a small herd of deer trotting through the snow. I stopped the car (no other cars were on the road) and rolled down my window to take a couple photographs before they trotted deeper into the trees.

I journaled this morning that one thing I have enjoyed about Pete’s and my times vacationing in Florida is that I can watch birds for more than a couple minutes, as they are comparatively acclimated to people there. Here, my wildlife encounters are just that: encounters, usually so brief that they last less than three minutes. I take a quick breath, rapidly check shutter speed to make sure it is high enough for a moving bird or critter and hope for the chance to honor through a photograph. As fast as the experience begins, it’s over. I have glimpses, like nods in passing. Yet it is these exact blinks of time that I live for as a wildlife photographer on the Outer Banks. Thanks to the miracle of photography, I can remember these moments and share them as well. This past week’s moments are below, so enjoy.

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When I first saw the harbor seal on Feb. 5, it was sleeping.

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The seal opened its eyes briefly and nodded off again. I left after a few minutes so that it could rest undisturbed on my account.

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I'm always alert to early signs of spring: large flocks of American Robins have shown up now, and tree branches are turning rosy.

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Bobcat at Aligator River. A LONG way off (even for a long lens!)

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Snow Banks. (Get the pun??)

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The snow-covered dunes looked like they belonged anywhere but here.

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Sand fence has done plenty of extra duty as snow fence this winter.

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I drove very slowly and managed to get all the way to Bodie Light while the snow was still falling.

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It's a treat to see snow all the way to the water's edge.

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Deer in the snow! Not too rare a sight up north, I admit. These were on Colington Island. See the one sticking out its tongue? Eating snowflakes, maybe?

posted by eturek at 1:54 PM

Comments [2]

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Let It Snow...
A few times every summer, I get to have a little fun with newer visitors to the Outer Banks who ask me what our winters are like. Oh it’s brutal, I say. Gets really cold, I say. Temperatures in the 40’s, and that can last four, even five days in a row! I say. Then we all laugh.

Then I tell them more seriously that winter nor’easters aren’t much fun, and that even 40 degrees with a whipping 25+ mph sustained northeast wind feels raw and bone-chilling. I also tell them that our winter weather typically fluctuates with some days feeling much more like spring, with temperatures in the upper 50’s or 60’s, and that while we might have a couple of cold spells with temperatures below freezing, those don’t last long. Inevitably they ask one more question: does it ever snow here?

By now my little joke is long over, and I explain that while it does sometimes snow, we have years where there is no snowfall at all, and that what snow we do get usually doesn’t last more than a day, if that. We don’t usually get much accumulation, and the salt in the air helps it melt fairly quickly.

This year the joke is on us, apparently. Pete told me yesterday that he heard this snow rivals that of 1989—a snow firmly etched in his memory because his daughter got married that next weekend, with temperatures warm enough to be overdressed in a suit jacket, but in the meantime he had to shovel multiple driveways for all the out of town family who came in on the heels of the blizzard itself! My biggest snow memories date back a decade earlier to the 1979-80 winter, when Dare County’s power and emergency services communications went out, and HAM radio operators picked up the slack for emergency workers.

The snowstorm of January 22 was mostly an ice storm with a little snow atop. We were treated to an amazing sunset by the next day, with fire-in-the-sky reds and oranges right at the horizon and pinks stretching high overhead. I went soundside for that sunset and am glad I did. This week’s snow began as a “wintry mix” which left quite a bit of ice underneath a good six inches or more of snow for Dare County north of Oregon Inlet. Wind drifts were higher in places.

I realized again yesterday something I had forgotten: one thing I love about snowfall is that, when the storm is over, the snow softens and rounds everything, beveling every sharp edge, covering the brown leaves or fallen branches in the woods, transforming the world into a seemingly gentler place. Yes, we have to shovel, clear paths and spread sand or salt. We have to be extra careful walking or driving. But there is magic in snowfall, too, if we can look with a child’s delight for even a minute. As I write this, the neighborhood kids are enjoying their second day in a row sledding down the street where I live, on what passes for a moderate hill in these flatlands. Gleeful whoops echo loud enough to set my dogs barking. But earlier this morning when I took them out for our first excursion, the air was completely still. The snow muffled ordinary noises, so the auditory experience of a hush matched the visual softness. At that moment, all my senses took a deep, cold, cleansing breath. That’s a long way around to say that for all of snow’s downside, and we will all hear plenty of legitimate thoughts about that, there is an upside too. As with most things. My own upside, expressed visually, is below. Enjoy.

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Here is Coquina on January 22, after our dusting of snow. I took this in late morning. Really pretty light on the dunes and waves.

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Here is the same general spot January 29, in late afternoon. Much more snow, much less light. We still had overcast skies and the temperature was in the mid-20s at this point.

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A week ago, I found the trees along the entrance road to Bodie Light prettier than the lighthouse itself. The wind had left the tree trunks etched in white and the sun was out. There was not much snow at the lighthouse.

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Yesterday, there was plenty of snow still left at the lighthouse in late afternoon. No sunshine though.

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Last week on January 23 we still had ice at the edges of the sound, and the sunset was amazing. I cropped this vertically to show the range of colors and shades from the horizon looking up.

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I switched to a closer focused perspective to show this tree and the ice around it against the sunset sky. Sunsets, like sunrises, don't stay static. The colors and patterns keep changing.

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Speaking of ice… I call this Fire and Ice. The ice storm we had last week coupled with the wind left interesting ice formations.

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As the snow was still falling yesterday morning, after I walked the dogs I went back out into our yard. I was looking for snow hearts! And I found these…or they found me.

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For a very little while, the sky got a tad bit brighter yesterday afternoon as the cloud cover thinned right where the sun was. Some beach accesses had much more snow than others, depending on dune shape and orientation to the wind.

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Looking north toward the end of Nags Head Pier.

posted by eturek at 11:45 AM

Comments [3]

Sunday, January 26, 2014
Amazing Award for one of my photographs
We interrupt our usual blog which focuses on Outer Banks nature in real time to share some incredible news.

One of my photographs entitled Mediation, which I took in January last year at Lake Mattamuskeet in fog, has just won a gold medal in the landscape category in the first World Photographic Cup. I did not even know about the WPC, or the selection process, until I got a phone call earlier in the week telling me I had won.

For those who don't mind my long detailed stories (insert laughing smiley here), I will post the full version below. For those who prefer the bottom line, here it is: international Olympic-style photograph competition based on merit, long process to qualify, international judges who did not know name or country of photographer, and I won gold.

I was sent a slide from the awards ceremony (which I did not know about either) and I will post that below.

Back to my regular blog which will have wintertime Outer Banks very soon!


As the world gears up for the 2014 Winter Olympics, an international photographic competition has just concluded with 22 countries participating in six categories. Yellowhouse Gallery owner Eve Turek’s photograph Meditation was chosen by an international panel of 15 professional photographer jurors as Team USA’s Gold Medal winner in the World Photographic Cup’s Landscape Category. Incredibly, Turek did not know her image had even been selected to compete until after the Professional Photographers Association (PPA) announced the winners at their annual convention in Phoenix, AZ in mid-January.

Turek’s image had already won a prestigious “Loan Collection” award from PPA earlier this year.       Those award winners were also entered in PPA’s Grand Imaging Award competition, unbeknownst to Turek, and she won another award there. Grand Imaging Award winners were then considered for entry into the World Photographic Cup.

Turek photographed a tree line in Lake Mattamuskeet on a foggy January morning a year ago. “I got up well before dark to participate in a local photo outing to photograph the sunrise at Lake Mattamuskeet. I was imagining golds and oranges and pinks, but there was no color in the sky or water at all. The fog obscured everything. Eventually there was enough light to photograph by, and I was mesmerized by these trees in the lake and the fog. The fog turned out to be the gift,” she said.

The World Photographic Cup was created as a joint effort between PPA, the largest nonprofit photographic association in the world with 26,000 members from North America and beyond, and The Federation of European Photographers (FEP). FEP represents 33 member associations in 29 European Countries and is Europe’s leading professional photographer association. The PPA website says the World Photographic Cup’s “singular goal is to unite photographers in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.’”       That mindset fits well with Turek’s photographic and personal philosophies.

“I’ve been puzzling for some time now about the language of photography. We say that cinematographers make movies, and writers tell stories, but photography’s terms are different. We say we “take” pictures or “capture” moments or “shoot” babies or birds or weddings. There is a kind of assumption, even arrogance, in those terms that doesn’t fit for me. I think of photography with profound gratitude. I think of how many times I have felt led to or invited within a scene or an encounter. I go out with my camera and my “please” and “thank you.” On my best days, I receive. I am gifted and graced with amazing moments that I then, thanks to this medium, am privileged to not only witness, but to share. I don’t want to ever take this beautiful world for granted. Gratitude keeps me grounded. I hope I am a photographer for the rest of my life, but I also hope I never “take” another picture.”

Only three images in each of six categories—Portrait, Wedding, Commercial, Illustrative, Reportage/Photojournalistic and Landscape—could be entered per country into the World Photographic Cup. Out of all of PPA’s Grand Imaging Award winners, Turek’s Meditation was one of the three chosen to represent the United States in the Landscape category.

As each participating nation could enter a maximum of three images per category, there were up to 66 entrants for each of the six categories. Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals were awarded in each category. Not only were individuals recognized, but the number of overall medals received determined which country took home the honor of the World Photographic Cup, with the highest tally of medal honors. Gold medalists received five points; Silver medalists, three; and Bronze medalists, one. Turek’s photograph was Team USA’s only Gold Medal winner, and helped propel the United States to win the overall medal count and the World Photographic Cup title.
The fifteen judges were all professional photographers with prior judging experience from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, Portugal and the United States. Judges did not know any photographer’s name or country represented during the judging process, and were not in communication with one another during the actual voting.

Turek received the news in a phone call from PPA Headquarters in Atlanta.

“I was overwhelmed,” Turek said. “I actually had to go online and read more about the competition so I could fully appreciate the honor. I joined PPA originally because I wanted to grow as a photographer. I like the fact that their competitions are based on a set of technical and creative criteria, rather than as subjective contests. I am very grateful to have my work even named in the same breath with the others from our country and abroad that were considered for the competition.“

Since 1869, PPA has been promoting education and offering resources for its member photographers.

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Picture 1

posted by eturek at 11:15 AM

Comments [5]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 151392 times

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