This year's winners in the Views Beyond the Bay Area category all took elements of nature as their subject matter but to very different effect. First-place winner Caroline Ebinger got in close to her subject to create a striking composition combining fallen leaves, weathered wood and rusty metal. Tim Aiken stepped back to create "Carrizo Sunrise," a sweeping view of a sea of yellow flowers under a surreal sky. And in the aptly titled "Ghosts," Lauren Wong depicts a pier enshrouded in fog with apparitions who appear to be walking over the surface of the sea.
What may have looked like junk to someone with a less artistic eye became a thing of beauty in the hands of Caroline Ebinger, who made a close-up shot of the decaying ruins of a demolished park in Pennsylvania the subject of her winning photograph.
"My mom used to go there as a kid," she said of the park, which she visited while on a family trip. "There's only rubble left. Bases of rides, basketball hoops, old park equipment."
While she first took overview shots of the whole landscape, she decided to take a few more detailed pictures as well to capture the texture and color of the rusty metal and scuffed wood amongst the fallen leaves.
"I thought it would be interesting to take close-ups. I liked what was on the ground," she said.
The Palo Alto High School junior said she's been interested in photography "for as long as I can remember," adding that she took a photo class in middle school and a few others on how to use her Olympus DSLR camera.
She writes feature stories and takes pictures for one of her high school's magazines, and though she's interested in journalism, she said she prefers taking artsy shots to news photos.
"My favorite type is nature and landscapes," she said.
She said she is considering majoring in architecture and design in college, or possibly business, but that she wouldn't be opposed to taking her photography hobby on a more professional route, should anyone take an interest in future photos.
"If anyone would buy them, that would be great," she laughed. But whatever the future may bring, Ebinger, who also won third-place in another category, plans to keep on shooting. And of her success in this year's contest, she said: "I'm honored that I was chosen."