IBEW photo contest winner Chris Plesnarski put himself in perfect position to capture the Manhattan skyline across the Meadowlands and turned his back on it.
Looking west over the Hackensack River, the Paterson, N.J., Local 102 member found a sunset of rare beauty. Soft clouds and golden light contrast and are reflected in the hard twisted chrome of the strand wrapped cables of the expansion fitting. It is a study in contrasting surfaces unified by the perspective lines of the pipe like a straight shot to the horizon.
Plesnarski’s picture of the Hudson Switchyard in Jersey City was the runaway winner, beating out second place by nearly 100 votes during two weeks of online voting in January when members and friends vote for their favorites of 15 finalists.
Nearly hidden in the chromed curves of pipe and cable are the other welders from Jersey City, N.J., Local 164, members on Plesnarski’s crew of journeyman inside wiremen: William Kennedy, James Arolland and Gerard Carbone welding together a new 6-inch bus, which carry enormous current to electrical switches.
This year’s No.1 pick was a change from winners in recent years, which heavily favored iconic images of lineman at work.
And while there were more than a handful of linemen-in-silhouette pictures submitted, the second place winner brought a new angle and bright colors to the subject. Monroe, N.Y., Local 503 member Doug Peifer saw Ed Hoag climbing through an alien cloudscape of orange and black on his way up a transmission tower to repair broken glass insulators.
Linemen in silhouette are familiar entries to the photo contest, but Peifer’s photograph stood out with its combination of balance, movement and asymmetry.
In third place, an ice-shrouded weeping willow glows like fireworks in the picture taken by Milwaukee Local 2150 member Gregg Stoudt.
Getting the exposure right in miserable conditions was only part of Stoudt’s challenge. He also composed contrasting shapes and textures into a standout composition. The straight lines of the glowing power lines and the enclosed angles of the boom arms are lightened by the streaks of snow falling across the sky and the delicate chains of ice dripping from the tree branches.
With winter far from over in parts of the U.S. and much of Canada, the picture is a powerful reminder of who keeps the heat on.
Two more pictures have been awarded honorable mentions. Pictures of lighting filled night skies are common entrants to the contest, but Phoenix Local 266 member Antonio Palacios’ picture of lighting in daylight is a first.
Even without the lightning, the dramatically lit picture of bright sunlight and dark clouds, newly raised poles and fallen wires captures the never ending struggle to keep the power flowing.
Also receiving an honorable mention is Grand Junction, Colo., Local 969 member James Cook’s picture of member Derek Larson on his way up an ancient looking power pole dried out by the high western desert. It is an emblematic image for the IBEW’s 125th anniversary showing strong boots and well-worn leather carrying a skilled worker where few have the training or courage to go.
Finally, the editor’s choice award goes to Vacaville, Calif., Local 1245 organizing steward Steven Marcotte. He joined fellow Local 1245 members and veterans Walter Carmier and Pam Pendleton during the Sacramento Veteran’s Day parade and caught a shared moment of pride and celebration.
“Local 1245 showed up to parades all over our jurisdiction to support the members who did serve and make sure veterans know the IBEW is a path for veterans to a middle class life,” Marcotte said.
This year’s photo contest brought us original angles on old themes and moments we’ve never seen before. There will not be a photo contest this year because of our extensive coverage of the IBEW convention in St. Louis. Nevertheless, pictures taken this year will be eligible for entry in 2017. Good luck.