5th annual WBM photography contest: Capturing Glory

Beauty in the lens contest aims to encourage storytelling

BY WBM Staff

Egret At Dusk by Tom Hanna
Egret At Dusk by Tom Hanna

Beauty in the lens contest aims to encourage storytelling

Why have an annual photography contest in Wrightsville Beach and its surrounding area? As always, this year’s photo submissions give the spectacular answer.

Having such beautiful landscapes, wildlife and rich citizenry as a palette makes judging both a delight and a challenge. The challenge not only entails choosing between (arguably) equally beautiful images, but also considering the story that the (not always technically perfect) pictures tell.

Wrightsville Beach Magazine’s annual photography contest issue looks to not only honor the storytelling efforts of highly skilled pros and amateurs, but to encourage those whose excellent pictures could not find room within the constraints of our monthly issues.

The community surely thanks our local photographers for sharing their skills and passion, which always make our annual photo contest a big winner for everyone!

                                                                        — Steve McMillan, Photo Editor

Professional Entries: Landscape Category


Foggy Sunrise  by Robert Dittmer

“This photo was captured on a foggy morning on Johnnie Mercers Pier at Wrightsville Beach.”

Honorable Mentions

Nature’s Fireworks by Michael Mosure

“Mother Nature decided to put on a vibrant light show at Wrightsville Beach. I captured this image at a longer focal length of 100mm, which allowed compression to really showcase the lightning.”

Summer Funnel Cloud by Michael Mosure

“While sitting at Wrightsville Beach last summer, a thunderstorm cell was approaching so I grabbed my gear and quickly composed this unique image.”

Moon over Figure Eight by Jeff Hall

“I have a program that tells approximately where the moon will rise on any given day. As soon as the moon starts to appear I start shooting away. This was shot from across the Intracoastal Waterway, mid-island Figure Eight Island.”

Amateur Entries: Landscape Category


Ian’s Prelude by Robert Thurston

“A fiery sunset on Lake Waccamaw two days before the arrival of Hurricane Ian in September 2022.”

Honorable Mentions

Heron in Fog by Tim Smith

“I was hiking in a favorite patch of woods one winter morning when I came across this heron standing patiently fishing for breakfast in the small pond. He stayed in place long enough for me to make a few exposures.”

Oyster Wall by Pam Teague

“Under the sea garden display at low tide. Oysters and seaweed showing off their beauty during their limited time in the sun.”

Swing seat rainbow by Sophia Brewer           

“Waiting for my pot of gold. Taken in Landfall at my sister’s house.”

Mushroom On Uprooted Tree by Tim Smith

“I came upon a large tree that had been blown over during a storm on one of my early morning hikes in the woods. The death of this huge tree gave life to a tiny mushroom.”

Cypress Pond at Sunset by Stan Washlesky

“This brilliant color lasted about 10 minutes as the sun was setting on a cypress tree pond in the Ogden area.”

Not So Crystal Pier by James Fallon

“This was taken after several days of consistent swell. Sand and silt were suspended along different pockets of the beach. Crystal Pier was looking amazing and when waves rolled along, it created a picture that wasn’t visible from normal eye level.”

Reflections On a Storm by David McGowan  

“The waters and sky off Wrightsville Beach are constantly changing. If  one stands quietly watching, reflecting on the composition before  them, even for a few minutes, the vista becomes anew. And, so it is in the moment of time represented in Reflections On A Storm.”

Wrightsville Beach DrawBridge by Tom Hanna

“This was a cold December evening and I thought the reflections coming off the drawbridge along with an ominous sky in the background made an interesting image.”

Catch the Rainbow Rising by Peter Desmond

“Set your sails to the wind. See bright rays to the sun. Life’s but a dream, catch it.”

Beneath the Live Oaks by Peter Thibodeau

“A view of the Wilmington National Cemetery from Market Street.”

Crystal Pier foggy Infinity by Jim Woodson

“I was under the Oceanic Pier early one morning and the waves were fairly large. I decided to try a time exposure to make the water soft and foggy.”

Professional Entries: Wildlife Category


Preening Beauty by Terri L. Chabot

“This great egret landed near me and began to meticulously groom its beautiful long feathers. I particularly liked this photo as the egret had a lock of wispy feathers in its beak. The brown grass of the shoreline and the deep blue of Carolina Beach Lake due to algaecide treatments provided a lovely backdrop for this majestic creature.”

Honorable Mentions

Poised to Take Flight by Jeff Hall

“I am at Airlie often. The ospreys will occasionally get on a perch high above their nest to see the surroundings. I had waited about 45 minutes until this one struck a perfect menacing pose.”

Relax by Jim Downer

“A juvenile alligator floating in a pond behind a parking lot at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.”

Magic Carpet Ride by Gary Allen

“An eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly ascends from a bloom at the New Hanover County Arboretum.”

Purple Pitcher Plant of Cape Fear by Karen D. Wiles

“This was taken in the Stanley Rehder Carnivorous Plant Garden at Piney Ridge Nature Preserve in Wilmington. The wetlands within the park burst with carnivorous plants, from pitcher plants to sundews to the native Venus flytrap.”

Amateur Entries: Wildlife Category


Egret At Dusk by Tom Hanna

“An egret flying with the sunset as a backdrop at Airlie Gardens.”

Honorable Mentions 

Feeding Time by Kevin Giannini

“Taken at the nesting colony in Wrightsville Beach, this least tern parent would repeatedly leave its chick to capture a fish to bring back to him. The chick seems very willing to accept this offering for one of its first meals.”

Orb Weaver by Tim Smith

“I often hike at a nature preserve in Pender County and this year there was an abundance of these creatures — I inadvertently walked through a million of their webs on the narrow paths. This one was very tolerant of my presence and allowed me to take my time photographing it.”

Shore Bird Olympics: The Balance Beam by John Sutton

“A snowy egret shows talents other than flying and catching fish.”

Preening Pelican by Leesa Beckmann

“A brown pelican meticulously preening its feathers at Wrightsville Beach.”

Mallard Pair Landing Zone by David Starbuck

“As a professional artist, I create primarily oil-on-linen wildlife paintings. I have had to become an amateur photographer in order to capture the experiences and wildlife subject matter that I need for my paintings.”

Foot Race by Kevin Giannini

“What appears to be a race between a tricolored heron and a snowy egret is actually their attempts to stir up the Carolina Beach Lake bottom for food.”

A Proud Catch by Stan Washlesky

“A black skimmer photographed on the south end of Wrightsville Beach.”

Spoonbill Dance by Peter Thibodeau

“Although not common in North Carolina, this roseate spoonbill spent some time at Airlie Gardens.”

Professional Entries: People Category


Mermaid by Robert Dittmer

“A local surfer hanging 10 at Wrightsville Beach.”

Honorable Mentions

Edge of the Sea by Karen Healy

“This photograph was taken on Wrightsville Beach as I happened upon two young ladies in the water with flashlights. It appeared that they were observing marine life along the edge of the sea. Shot with an iPhone in the early evening.”

Great Ride by Phil Barbalace 

“With Hurricane Fiona passing a few hundred miles off the coast and a big surf forecast, I knew the Wrightsville Beach surfers would be out. There were many wipeouts, but this experienced surfer knew how to smoothly ride the big one.”

Amateur Entries: People Category

Andy – Port City Piper


Port City Piper by Peter Thibodeau

“Andy appeared with the Port City Pipers at the Port City Highland Games in Wilmington.”

Honorable Mentions

Untitled by John Wilson

“I love you, but no.”

Ballet on the Beach by Debra Russell

“My daughter is a professional ballet dancer with Oklahoma City Ballet. She was visiting us during the summer and wanted to do a grand jeté at sunrise. This was taken at Wrightsville Beach’s south end.”

Till the Sun Goes Down by Tallison Brainard

“I swam out with some surfers at Wrightsville Beach access 18 and captured them doing what they love till dark. Time seems to slow down in the water, and worries start to fade.”

Pee Wee by Leesa Beckmann

“I met “Pee Wee,” as he was boarding a boat to go to work on a dredge. As he passed by, I couldn’t help but notice his golden smile. I asked him if I could take his picture because I thought he was so unique looking. He turned and smiled with that golden grin of his, the American flag in the background makes this portrait extra special.”

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