CARSON CITY — Following the theme of its 75th anniversary, Nevada Magazine’s 2011 photo contest is a celebration of the best images from the state’s six tourism territories: Las Vegas Territory, Pony Express Territory, Cowboy Country, Indian Territory, Nevada Silver Trails and Reno-Tahoe Territory.
Also new this year is a “Then & Now” category, in which photographers were asked to re-create former Nevada Highways and Parks or Nevada Magazine cover images.
This year’s grand prize winner is Thomas McEwan from Las Vegas, for his photograph titled “Night Sky Over Ward Charcoal Ovens.” The image was taken at Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park. He captured this moment on his Canon 5D MKII.
“At Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park, there are no streetlights, no car lights and no ‘light domes’ from distant cities,” he said. “You would think it would be jet black at night, but the starlight was so bright I was able to work without a flashlight.”
From Death Valley National Park to Great Basin National Park, rural Nevada is renowned for its starry skies, and the charcoal ovens, located south of Ely, afford the type of remarkable stargazing opportunities that set the Silver State apart.
“When I arrived on the scene after dark, a thin sliver of a moon had just ducked behind a nearby mountain on the right but still illuminated a distant mountain on the left,” McEwan said. “I positioned my camera in front of the rightmost kiln and panned it to produce a panorama of six individual photos that I later stitched together. With the Milky Way looking like a spewing volcano, I was stunned by its immense size. We are living in a whopper of a galaxy.”
McEwan used a 75-second exposure per frame. In addition to the six well-intact charcoal ovens — built by miners in the 1870s to make charcoal for smelting — the park also offers recreation trails and the 14-site Willow Creek campground.
McEwan will receive a complimentary tour courtesy of Wild Horses of Nevada Photography in Dayton.
For a full list of winners, visit www.nevadamagazine.com.
In January 1936, Nevada Highways and Parks — known today as Nevada Magazine — was introduced by the state highway department. Always an information source for Nevada residents and tourists, what started as a digest-sized bulletin has grown into a colorful magazine. It highlights urban and rural travel, dining, people, history, gaming, events, shows and more. Nevada Magazine is now a division of the Nevada Commission on Tourism, published bimonthly, and based in Carson City and Las Vegas.