March 2011

Favorites Draw Record Votes
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With his colorful image of a member carefully welding conduit, Blain Logan of St. Joseph, Mo., Local 545 showcased the muscle and nose-to-the-grindstone effort it takes to get the job done—netting the grand prize in the 2010 IBEW Photo Contest.

His entry was the runaway favorite in online voting by members and the public in January.

Judges previewed more than 360 submissions for the competition. The finalists garnered a record 12,000 votes for the 15 images that appeared at in December and January.

Voters awarded Casper, Wyo., Local 322 member Ezra Kelly second place for his vivid rendering of power lines gliding over an icy landscape.

Mike Muscat of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Local 320 placed third with a tongue-in-cheek underwater shot of a fellow lineman who coupled safety garb with scuba gear to "fix" a downed pole.

First Place Winner ($200)

Blain Logan, St. Joseph, Mo., Local 545
Last summer, while schoolchildren beat the record Midwestern heat with ice cream and trips to air-conditioned malls, wireman travelers Logan and Jim Amos suited up in bulky fire-retardant gear and face shields to weld carbon steel conduit at the Conoco refinery in Alton, Ill.

On a particularly hot day, Logan snapped his photo of Amos—a Jacksonville, Fla., Local 177 member—putting the full weight of his body on a pipe to secure one of the trickier welds.

"Doing this kind of work can be rough," Logan said. "You're in really tight environments and you almost have to stand on your head sometimes to get the weld. Then you've got the heat on top of that. I took this picture to show my dad and fellow IBEW brothers how hard it was.

"We don't usually do a whole lot of welding in the trade," he said. "But when that work falls in our jurisdiction, we want to show that we're capable of doing an excellent job."

Second Place Winner ($150)

Ezra Kelly, Casper, Wyo., Local 322
The glacial setting for Kelly's luminous shot of power lines in the mountains of Virginia may imply a world in hibernation—but the 500-kilovolt lines in the sky say otherwise as they channel electricity across 180 circuit miles of wilderness.

Kelly captured this moment of stunning white and blue in the early morning last winter.

"We showed up on the job site, and it was 11 below and stormy," Kelly said. "There was a half-inch of ice on everything. And then all of a sudden, the sun came out and the ice started melting."

Kelly shunned using Photoshop or any software to enhance the shot. The burning sun high in the frame—simple, unadorned and natural—is as close a representation of that crystal clear morning as anyone would be likely to see.

Third Place Winner ($100)

Mike Muscat, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Local 320
Linemen frequently stare down the worst Mother Nature has to offer, usually from very high off the ground. But what would it look like for a member to take those skills underwater?

In his comical entry, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Local 320 member Mike Muscat shot an aquamarine-tinged image of fellow member Bob Schaetzl (decked out in a hardhat and insulating gloves) pretending to repair a submerged pole in a lake near Bethlehem, Pa.

Schaetzl and Muscat are both experienced divers, and Muscat said they "wanted to illustrate just how far a lineman will go to get the lights back on."

"We got a kick out of doing the project," said Schaetzl, who has a background in professional photography.

Honorable Mentions ($50 each)

Allan Smorra, San Francisco Local 6
Smorra's vertigo-inducing image of Dublin, Calif., Local 595 member Del West walking on the Golden Gate Bridge to repair a cable light is both daring and dreamlike.

Thomas Zielke, Rochester, N.Y., Local 86
With water below and concrete above, Syracuse, N.Y., Local 43 member Dave Colton finishes pulling cable while in an inspection unit under the bridge that links Ogdensburg, N.Y., to Prescott, Ontario. Zielke was in a similar unit when he snapped the photo.

This is the contest’s 14th year and third time to feature online voting.