Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

It's never more true than when you enter photos in a county fair. My three favorite photos I've taken during the past year didn't even garner a ribbon at the 2019 Stafford County Fair. Not one.

First of all, let me say that the Grand Champion chosen this year is phenomenal. It's an action shot of a cowboy on a bucking bull. This is not sour grapes because that purple ribbon is exactly where it should have gone.

I do photography for fun. Way back as a fifth grader, I was documenting our family's winter break trip to California through a camera lens. Having a camera in my hand is second nature ... and what makes my purse so heavy!

When I looked through my photos from the past year, I didn't think most of my photos were as strong as some I've entered in the past. But it's fun to get the photos out of the camera and off the blog and blow them up to 8 X 10s. And, if nothing else, lots of them end up decorating my home throughout the year.

So why did I like those three photos so much more than the judge did? I've been trying to evaluate that. I think it's because they were hard to get and things I'd never photographed before.
I put this beautiful blue butterfly on notecards, and I've already reordered them since I've used so many. Blue and purple have always been my favorite colors. For my childhood bedroom, I chose a purple and blue shag carpet. So the colors in this shot just naturally appeal to me.

These male Melissa's blue butterflies are about the size of a thumbnail, so it's not easy to get close enough for a clear shot before they flit away to another perch. I took the photo in an alfalfa field in late September of last year and blogged about it then. I had delivered Randy's lunch to the field and wanted photos of him filling the wheat drill. To fill my time, I wandered into the alfalfa field, looking for Monarch butterflies who hadn't yet migrated. Monarchs are easy, compared to these tiny creatures.

Equally difficult to capture with my point-and-shoot camera were two different bluebird sightings. The first was in the pasture south of our house. The group of migrating mountain bluebirds stayed for less than a day in February. I took bunches of photos from the pickup, trying to get a bird in focus on the dry pasture grass before it flew to its next perch.
I've also reordered the bluebirds on notecards since I've used so many of them.
The second bluebird was spotted at the Stafford County Country Club golf course. Thanks to Randy's eagle eyes (pun intended), I captured an eastern bluebird in a tree near the tee-off for Hole 5. It wasn't easy without a telephoto lens. And I realize I had to lighten it too much, which resulted in a colorless sky, but I still love the photo. Neither of the bluebird photos garnered a ribbon either.

Two of my blue-ribbon photos were taken in the snow. I think the judge must have been hot (which I can definitely relate to. I was hot, too!) I do love that photo at the top of this blog post of a mama and baby in front of that craggy tree on a snowy evening. It got a blue in the black and white "animal" category.
 I entered this other pair in the agriculture category in the color division, and it got a blue also.
This black and white version of an ivory rose in the Ted Ensley Gardens in Topeka in June was my other blue and my only "warm season" blue. Ironically, I had asked Randy if he thought I "ought to bother" even entering that one. Shows what I know!

The "cold" theme continued among my photos which received reds (2nd in the class).
I took this photo in Kansas City when I was with Randy who was attending the Kanza Co-op board retreat.
This springtime photo also got a red.
This close-up of our backyard spirea bush got a white ribbon. I thought it looked like a miniature bridal bouquet.
This photo of Randy got lots of "likes" on Facebook, but it didn't get a ribbon. I still love it.

Stafford County Economic Development sponsors a photo contest. Three of my six photos received an honorable mention. One of them was the photo of Randy in the corn field (above).
Another was also in a corn field, but it was taken on the first day of summer at sunrise. Both of those were entered in the "commerce" category.
Randy must have been my good luck charm, since he was in all three of the winners. (Not really a big surprise. As already established, he's my No. 1 model.) The one at the Stafford County Country Club golf course was entered in the "Places" category.

I also entered a couple of books that I made for the girls in the online scrapbooking category. Sometimes, I write blog posts about adventures with our granddaughters in rhyme. Later, I put the rhymes and photos in books and give a copy to each of the girls (and keep one for myself, of course). I don't make quilts and I'm not particularly crafty. So these are my versions of family heirlooms for them.
I absolutely love the Zoobilation! book, but it only got 2nd in the class. (Watch for it in an upcoming blog post on a Kansas Staycation.)
This book I did for Brooke after her solo visit to the farm last summer didn't place (but I love it, too). Here's the story in a blog post.

It may not have been a banner year in the ribbon department, but I doubt it will deter me from entering next year. My premium money didn't begin to cover the cost of enlarging photos, buying matboard and special plastic bags.

But it's not about the money. It's about being part of something bigger. If people don't enter, there's nothing to look at during the fair. And if there's nothing to look at, nobody is going to come. And if no one comes, fairs are going to die.
So I guess I'll do my part to keep the tradition alive - whether that means entering photos in the open class division or continuing to serve as 4-H foods superintendent on a hot day in July!


  1. The competition must have been hot. These are lovely. So glad you use some as notelets. I would be thrilled if I received one - lucky friends you have.

    1. It was hot and humid the whole time. I'm glad we are past the time when we had kids with 4-H livestock.

  2. Your photos are gorgeous, Kim! I love the note cards you gave me...I've used a couple of them, but don't want to part with the rest! :) I agree about the fairs...if they would die out, it would be soo disappointing, so please keep taking pictures and entering them!!

    1. Thanks, Alica! I'm glad you are enjoying the notecards.