Northeast Ohio amateur photographers could win big bucks

You're a winner!”

Yes, those could be the words that a few lucky Cleveland area photographers hear after judging is completed for three amateur photo contests – one local, one national and one international.

The local contest is the “Photo Safari at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo here you can try your hand at animal photography. All photos must be taken on zoo grounds between April 1 and October 31, 2013 and submitted to Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on photographic paper on or before October 31, 2013.

The Best of Show winner will get a Behind-the-Scenes Zoo tour, Adopt an Animal package courtesy of the Cleveland Zoological Society and a Polaroid PoGo Photo Printer. Other prizes include Zoo family memberships, 18-hole rounds of golf at any Cleveland Metroparks Golf Course, $25 Discount Drug Mart gift cards and much more.

Get contest details at

Next up is the “Olive Garden Picture Perfect InstaGram Contest.” And no, you don't have to be an Olive Garden fan or even eat there to be eligible to participate. Of course, I LOVE their Eggplant Parmesan so I'll grab a bite there in your honor.

There are 42 prizes with the Grand Prize winner receiving a $500 prepaid credit card.

The contest is open to lawful permanent residents of the United States (including D.C.); between the ages of 13 and 18 years old as of April 1, 2013, and have an active InstaGram account. The contest ends on May 14, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. so you better hurry!
Get contest details at

Finally, there's the “The Art of Photography Show 2013.” There are $10,000 in cash awards with the first place winner receiving $2,000 and fourteen others grabbing lesser cash prizes.

This contest is geared for aspiring photographers who are ready to invest $25 for their first entry and $10 for each additional entry. Entries must be received by May 18th at 11:59 pm PDT (California Time) so time is of the essence.

Get contest details at

Have you ever wanted to create a book of your favorite images to share with family and friends? Or maybe you would like to offer your book for purchase to the general public for a little extra income.

I've create two books using a pretty cool company called Blurb. One is a pictorial celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and the other is a collection of unique images of Picturesque Olmsted Falls, Ohio.

Now you can create a book for yourself or your mom for Mother's Day and save 20% off through May 10, 2013. Simply enter coupon code LOVEYOUMOM at checkout to claim your discount.

So what's been your experience with photo contests? Please comment and share some contests you've entered and what you thought of the judging.

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Our Scenic Photographs Accepted for University Hospitals Art Show

Nightfall At The Golden Gate

University Hospitals of Cleveland is pleased to announce that four scenic photographs by Mark Madere have been accepted for exhibition in the UH Employee & Volunteer Juried Art Show. Only 86 of the 200 entries submitted by University Hospitals employees and volunteers were accepted for display.

Madere is an Ophthalmic Photographer at University Hospitals and owner of SpectraLight Photography in North Ridgeville.

The juror for the show was 1987 Cleveland Arts Prize recipient and internationally recognized artist Brent Kee Young. Young has been professor and Chairman of the Glass Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art since 1973.

This exhibition, which is held every 2 years, exposes UH's hidden artistic talents, which are often overshadowed by the exceptional skills these individuals display each day in the clinical environment.

The show runs through Jan. 7, 2011 at University Hospitals Humphrey Atrium Gallery at 11100 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH.

For more of Madere's scenic photography, visit

Mocha Monkey nearly stranded at Golden Gate Bridge

Mocha Monkey near the Golden Gate Bridge

Mocha Monkey near the Golden Gate Bridge with his new friend.

The Mocha Monkey was almost stranded overnight in a parking lot near the Golden Gate Bridge during his recent trip to San Francisco.

After meeting his new friend, Stephanie Hernandez from New Mexico (pictured here), MM went to his car to get a late dinner. As he approached the park exit, he realized a gate had been secured across the road. After further inspection, MM noticed a sign stating the lot closed at dusk. Fortunately, he was able to drive around the gate and over an extremely high curb to make his escape. The rental car took a little abuse in the process as it nearly got stuck on the curb.

Amazing photos are everywhere – you just have to look for them

Pacific Ocean along California Highway 1

Great photos don't just happen. A skilled photographer is always on the lookout for an image that really stands out. Wherever he goes, he observes how light and shadow changes the appearance and “feel” of every scene.

This photograph was taken along California Highway 1. A college friend and fellow photographer, Max Muir, and I were driving along at 60 mph when I spied the Pacific Ocean through a small opening in the trees. It was only a split second observation but it was enough to go back and investigate. After walking through a thicket of trees, there before us was an ocean vista that was beyond breathtaking. (Lake Erie is just no comparison!) We spent about 45 minutes exploring several viewpoints – kneeling, squating and standing along the edge of a 200 foot cliff. We came away with some amazing images and a fantastic start to our “photo safari” to San Francisco.

If you have a photography related question, please post it under “Comments.”

Make your photos shine with gorgeous color enhancement

Pacific Ocean along California Highway 1

Sometimes the beautiful color you see with your eyes doesn't appear that way in your photographs. Why settle for dull, boring photos when you can make your photos shine with gorgeous color enhancement?

Most people take photos with their camera set on “automatic.” While that setting does an okay job at capturing a picture, it “averages” out the light and dark areas of a scene – often creating low contrast images.

To bring back the color you saw when you took the photo, use a software program like Adobe Photoshop – a program that costs about $700. A more affordable alternative to Photoshop is Adobe Premiere Elements. It costs just under $100 – which is several hundred dollars LESS than Photoshop. For other software, Google “photo editing programs” to find one that offers the features that are just right for you. Generally speaking, the cheaper the software, the less it can do to enhance your photos.