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2023 Westways Magazine Photo Contest winners

This shot of splashes in a Montana lake won first prize in the 2023 Westways contest. Photo by Canaan Hillery

For the 10th annual edition of our photo contest, we broke with tradition and accepted photographs of places outside the United States, adding an extra degree of difficulty to our judges’ already tough task. Almost 25% of our entries were snapped abroad; 3 of our winners traveled thousands of miles overseas to get their prized shots. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying close to home (Yosemite National Park will apparently be a perennial subject).

Our thanks to everyone who entered and congratulations to the winners.

These winning photos will be shown through March 10 at the Museum of Photographic Arts at the San Diego Museum of Art (MOPA@SDMA) in Balboa Park, where the exhibit “James Balog: Photographs from the Anthropocene” is currently on display. Admission fee is donation-based, “pay what you wish.” 

1st prize: Skipping Stones by Canaan Hillery

61-year member from West Hills, California
Sony Alpha 6000 Website:

“I didn’t have high expectations of getting a great shot when I arrived at Lake McDonald in Montana’s Glacier National Park in August 2022. I knew it was a popular photo spot, but my attention was focused on my 2 toddlers. My 2-year-old began lobbing rocks into the water, and I grabbed my Sigma 16mm lens thinking something interesting may come of it.

Although I love this photo, what isn’t captured are my kids’ ice cream–covered smiles as they skipped stones across the lake. They probably won’t remember that moment, but I sure will.”

2nd prize: The Flood by Trent Kanemaki

56-year member from Fullerton, California
Camera: Panasonic/Lumix S1R

The Flood by Trent Kanemaki, showing Iguazu Falls.

“In mid-2022, my wife and I felt confident enough to resume adventuring. We planned a short trip to cross off 2 major bucket list attractions: Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazú Falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. In October 2022, after months of nearly constant rainfall, the volume of water going over Iguazú Falls reached 10 times the usual amount.

By the time of our mid-month arrival, that figure had dropped to only twice the normal reading, but parts of the park remained closed or were destroyed due to the water volume and flooding. Standing beside this incredible surge of power was simply awe-inspiring.” 

You may also like: 9 years of Westways Photo Contest winners

3rd prize: Yosemite Grandeur by Jared Weintraub

4-year member from San Marcos, California
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Instagram: @jaredspix

Yosemite Grandeur by Jared Weintraub, showing sunrays highlighting a hiker standing beside a river.

“I embarked on a road trip from San Diego to Yosemite National Park accompanied by close friends in November 2022. None of us had ever been there during the fall, and we excitedly anticipated the park’s grandeur.

We arrived at Yosemite Valley just before dawn, chasing the perfect shot. I had set specific goals for this image, and carefully composed it so that the river would lead the viewer’s eye toward the distant cliffs. The play of light and shadow was striking, as the light’s warm golden hues contrasted beautifully with the cool blue tones of the river and sky.

This photograph represents not only Yosemite’s natural wonder but also the memories of an unforgettable adventure shared with dear friends—we hiked to iconic viewpoints, marveled at the waterfalls, and even spotted some wildlife.” 

4th prize: Blue Hour Island by Tracie Cusimano-Williams

16-year member from Westminster, California
Canon EOS R Instagram: @traciecwilliams

Blue Hour Island by Tracie Cusimano-Williams showing water covering the rocks at Cameo Shores Beach.

“I had been trying to get this shot for more than a year. Cameo Shores Beach in Newport Beach lies along a rocky shoreline. I had visited many times at different tide levels.

But a lower tide doesn’t have enough water in front of the arch for the shot I had envisioned. And the tide needs to be just high enough for the water to crash over the rocks but not completely cover them. In the foreground, the water must be shallow enough to see the rocks underneath. Once you get that perfect tide, it all must coordinate with the blue hour.

On this day in April 2023, I finally got the perfect conditions.”

You may also like: Top Pics: 2022 Westways Photo Contest winners

5th prize: Above It All by Brandon Yoshizawa

45-year member from Torrance, California
Nikon D750 Instagram: @bay_photography

Above It All by Brandon Yoshizawa showing sunlight clouds and fog in Yosemite Valley.

“I arrived at Yosemite National Park at night and made my way up to the famous Tunnel View for sunrise for this May 2023 shot. Low fog lingering in the valley greeted me. As the sun rose over the granite peaks, it blasted warm light onto the scene, igniting the fog in golden waves that wove in and out of the trees for one of the most incredible sunrises I’ve ever witnessed.” 

6th prize: Morning Coffee at the Bonneville Salt Flats by Eric A. Norris

33-year member from Los Angeles
Camera: Sony a7 III Instagram: @sfxeric

Morning Coffee at the Bonneville Salt Flats by Eric A. Norris showing a long figure silhouetted against the sky at Bonneville Salt Flat.s

“In December 2022, my wife, Jen, and I visited Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats at sunrise. We found the salt flats flooded with an inch or 2 of water: It was like a giant mirror. Jen walked out with her morning coffee to take it all in, and I snapped her picture.”

You may also like: Finding Beauty: Winners of the 2021 Westways Photo Contest

7th prize: Bandon Beach Sunrise by Mark Drawbridge

40-year member from Encinitas, California
Camera: Canon EOS R5 Instagram: @markdrawbridgephotography

Bandon Beach Sunrise by Mark Drawbridge

“I took this image in June 2022 during a 10-day photo trip along the Oregon coast. It was my first time photographing this incredible seascape. I rose early every morning and hoped for beautiful sunrises, but Mother Nature had other ideas and I was treated to gray skies instead—until the last day. This scene lasted just a few minutes, but it capped off a wonderful trip!”

8th prize: Gentoo Penguin Highway by Don Mayeda

43-year member from Culver City, California
Camera: Canon EOS R5 Instagram:

Gentoo Penguin Highway by Don Mayeda showing a trio of penguins in the snow.

“In January 2023, I took an 11-day cruise aboard a 197-passenger yacht to Antarctica with my wife, Amanda, and 2 photographer friends. For me, a 75-year-old amateur wildlife photographer who also survived a ‘polar plunge’ during the voyage, this was a bucket list trip.

At a crossroads for 3 penguin highways on Danco Island, we found these gentoo penguins. The fabulously cute and not-so-little creatures were waddling in different directions when they crossed paths for just the right moment.”

You may also like: 2020 Westways Photo Contest winners

9th prize: Bishop Creek Fall Colors by Jeff Woon

25-year member from Tustin, California
Sony a7R III Instagram: @jw88photo

Bishop Creek Fall Colors by Jeff Woon

“I have been to the Bishop area many times to see fall foliage in the Eastern Sierra, but usually not during prime conditions. On this day in October 2022, the sky had been cloudy for most of the afternoon. I arrived at this spot a few hours before sunset and waited. Eventually, I was rewarded when the sky slightly cleared, allowing the beautiful sunset to complement the fall colors.”

10th prize: Nap Time by Mike Reardon

55-year member from Fallbrook, California
Canon R6 Instagram: @mikeyrear

Nap Time by Mike Reardon showing a herd of elephants, including babies asleep on the ground.

“During a 9-day photography tour of Africa in June 2022, my partner and I came upon these elephants sleeping in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. The bigger animals sometimes sleep standing up because they have trouble getting to their feet after being down on the ground. I was amazed to see these gentle, giant animals in their own environment. We liked our first visit so much that we’re going to return this year.”

2023 Westways Photo Contest prizes

1st prize is 4 nights’ stay for 2 in an ocean-view room at Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort on O‘ahu with $500 in resort credit; round-trip Economy Class travel for 2 on American Airlines from Pleasant Holidays; an Island Photo Tour for 2 from Blue Hawaii Photo Tours; a private Get to Know Kailua guided electric-bike tour for 2 from Pedego Kailua; an all-inclusive afternoon sandbar adventure tour for 2 from Kaneohe Bay Ocean Sports; a courtesy week pass from The Parking Spot; a 5-day car rental on O‘ahu from Hertz; a $200 gift card from BASALT restaurant; 2 single-day O‘ahu activity passes from Go City; a dinner for 2 at Merriman’s Honolulu; $100 worth of gas cards from Aloha Petroleum; and a 1-year Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) membership with Classic benefits.

2nd prize is 3 nights’ stay for 2 at the Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara with daily breakfast and a dinner at Finch & Fork; a private full-day wine tour for 2 from Destination Vine; a private cruise for up to 6 from Celebration Cruises; a $150 gift card from Reunion Kitchen + Drink; a guided tour for 2 of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park; a $50 gift certificate from Anchor Rose; a 1-week airport parking pass; and a 1-year ACSC membership with Classic benefits.

3rd prize is 3 nights’ stay for 2 at the Beacon Grand, A Union Square Hotel in San Francisco with daily breakfast, welcome and farewell drinks, and a dinner at the Beacon Lounge; a dinner for 2 at The Barrel Room; 2 Premier Passes from Pier 39; a 1-year family membership to The Walt Disney Family Museum; two 3-choice San Francisco activity passes from Go City; a $150 gift certificate to Fog Harbor Fish House; a $150 gift card from One Market Restaurant; wine flights and a cheese and charcuterie pairing for 2 from DECANTsf; two 3-day Muni Passports from San Francisco Travel; a 1-week airport parking pass; and a 1-year ACSC membership with Classic benefits.

4th prize is 3 nights’ stay for 2 at Lakehouse Resort in San Marcos with a dinner at the resort restaurant and 1 pontoon boat rental; 1 zoo admission and Inside Look tour for 2 at the San Diego Zoo; a custom guided Pedego Electric Bike Tour for 2 from Pedego La Jolla; two 3-choice San Diego activity passes from Go City; 2 admission tickets to Sesame Place San Diego; a $100 gift card from The Islander in Coronado; a 1-year individual membership at MOPA@SDMA in San Diego; a 1-week airport parking pass; and a 1-year ACSC membership with Classic benefits.

5th prize is 2 nights’ stay for 2 at La Casa del Camino in Laguna Beach with 1 dinner at Comedor; a $250 gift certificate from Selanne Steak Tavern; a $200 gift card from Las Brisas; 2 tickets to a Newport Beach Whale Watching & Dolphin Cruise from Davey’s Locker; a 1-week airport parking pass; and a 1-year ACSC membership with Classic benefits.

6th- through 10th-place prize is 2 admission tickets to Sesame Place San Diego; a $200 Hyatt gift card; a 1-week airport parking pass; a 1-year individual membership at MOPA@SDMA; and a 1-year ACSC membership with Classic benefits.

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