(Humbly) I won!
Every year since 2006, Alan McLeod —beer author and blogger at A Good Beer Blog— has organized an international competition for 'best' photo of beer or related to beer.
The name of the contest is long and quirky: Yuletide-Christmas-Hanukah-Hogmanay-Kwanza-Festivus Beery Photo Contest. The rules are few, but some quirky: such as disapproval of photos of beer-with-food (he doesn't much care for them) but encouragement of photographs of beer-in-snow.
The quality of many of the entries attests to the good state of amateur 'beer' photography, not merely the domain of Instagram schadenfreudists. Conscious preservation of the reflection on a beer-moment while in that moment.
This year (well, actually, now last year) my photo, above, entitled "Steam Brew," tied for top honors. Here's what Mr. McLeod had to say about it:
Thomas Cizauskas of Virginia sent in photo number three and I have to admit it is both unusual and fantastic. First thing you see is just a jumble. But then again that use of colour to create depth - the yellow emergency rinse station, the red trolley. Then I start to think I have seen this sort of structure before. Not the brewing structures but the layout of the image. It's like a Vermeer. Like this or this or this or this! The light is from the upper left. The steam acts as the curtain or the doorway Vermeer used to create a frame within a frame. Much of the scene is ordinary like so many 1600s Dutch household paintings. The red cart is the girl. Amazing. Quite certain Tom thought none of that. He named it "Steam Brew" and gave this note: "on a cold winter day outside, steam billowed, inside, during a brew at the Heavy Seas Brewing Company, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mr. McLeod is correct. I didn't. But, I'll take it; thank you. *
I took the picture two years ago, in January 2013, at Heavy Seas, a brewery located just south of the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The vantage point was an 'L' nook between the old brewhouse to the right and the fermentation tanks extending to the left. That view is now an historical one. The brewery has since undergone a major expansion of its physical plant, and that original brewhouse, in operation since December 1995, has been decommissioned.
My camera was (and still is) an Olympus Pen E-PL1: not quite a DSLR, but more than a point-and-shoot.
Another of my photos, deliberately tailored to Mr. McLeod's wintry inclination, also 'placed' in the contest:
Thomas Cizauskas of Virginia wins this year's snow and beer prize in, admittedly, a smaller class of entries. The photo, however, is crisp and very snow-centric. My only quibble is earlier winners featured majestic landscapes on sunny days. Perhaps I need to rename the category as the "beer and snow within majestic landscapes on sunny days" category. Well, live and learn and in no way taking away from Tom's keen eye.
I purchased the beer —Enlightened Despot Ale, a 'Russian' Imperial Stout— at the brewery itself, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery, a farm-brewery in Goochland, Virginia, on a crisp, sunny March 2014 day. And not a moment too soon. The following day, a winter storm of ice and snow hit the area. I took the photo with the contest in mind ... and then moved back indoors, and enjoyed the beer, in warmth.
Running this contest as Alan McLeod does, as a one-man show, is a labor of love with no recompense. He deserves thanks (whether one won or not!). He's also a damn good writer.
The annual Christmas beer photo contest and all of blogging for that matter ... helps us with the understanding that beer is both not that complex compared to, say, the professions but at the same time it weaves itself into any number of interesting places that it is well worth pursuing with any and all means possible. [...]
Photography is one of the best media for discovering this. In a way, good beer is mute and makes us mute. It makes an inviting spot for us in the interior of ourselves. We need to remember to reciprocally keep drawing ourselves out of there and report on what we saw. Lingering over a few photos is as good or better than a weeks at the archives for explaining what is really going on between glass and throat. When you sit quite in a bar staring at that thing or out that window after hitting the particularly correct dosage of your favorite drink? Beer photography does that except it takes you where you yourself can never go - all the places beer is and has been. Well at least since around 1839.
See more of the other photos submitted: here and here. And see the gorgeous photo —of a beer set against glass-brick and the ouside view behind it— with which my photo tied: here.
Pic(k)s of the week for 2014Every week since 29 August 2009, I've annointed a photo of mine (again, humbly) as a Pic(k) of the Week: "one in a weekly series of personal photos, often posted on Saturdays, and often, but not always, with a good fermentable as a subject." Here are the 52 photos I selected in 2014, month-by-month, in order, January to December.
Enlightened Despot in the Snow was my pick for 15 March. My personal favorite of the year was this one from late March, that I called Snow Sprouts. (Steam Brew is not among these photos. It was a selection, the year prior, in January 2013.)
Tomorrow, the series begins anew, with my inital selection for 2015, an oldie but goodie.
- * In taking the winning photo, I possibly was inspired by this image, that I snapped in 2008, of the streets of south Baltimore.
- Prior victories!
- The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts (an e-book co-written with Max Bahnson)
- Upper Hudson Valley Beer (co-written with Craig Gravina)
- Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to the Hudson Bay (co-written with Jordan St. John)