2024 Park Pics Winners

Congratulations to our 2024 winter Park Pics contest winners! And thank you to all of the participants who entered. As in past years, our jury selected the category winners and they were looking for photos that were not only original, technically excellent and created a strong overall impact, but also for photos that capture the essence and experience specific to San Mateo County Parks. The People’s Choice Award is chosen by vote of the general public, which took place over one week at the end of April. Over 450 people voted!

Enjoy the winning photos and learning more about the photographers behind the lens. Also check out the fifteen outstanding finalists from this year’s contest.

People’s Choice Award

Nature’s Screen by Nancy Lavinghousez

About Nancy Lavinghousez: 

I recently relocated from Austin, Texas to the Bay Area, where the perfect year-round weather offers endless opportunities to explore the outdoors. We are a family of travelers, often off the beaten path, but always with the goal of having nature inspire awe and wonder. Traveling connects us to one another and helps us learn about various cultures and appreciate diversity. The move here has sparked new hobbies like gardening, cooking, and fostering kittens. I enjoy surrounding myself with friends who share a passion for the beauty and mysteries the world offers us. 

Inspiration for photo:

As soon as my daughter climbed onto the log, absorbing the expansive Bay Area landscape from Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve, I knew it was a moment I had to capture. It symbolized our ongoing journey to reconnect with nature and steer away from digital consumption aka “screen time.” Our family has always prioritized escaping into the outdoors, seeking the rejuvenating and “healthy high” that only Mother Nature can offer. This photograph, titled “Nature’s Screen,” represents more than just a scenic view; it’s a reminder of the peace and simple joy that the natural world brings. It illustrates a serene moment where even a young child can pause, undistracted, to appreciate the beauty around her—without the impulse to reach for a tablet or a TV remote. The vastness of the landscape against the smallness of a child highlights the profound impact of nature’s magnificence on our lives.

Location: Edgewood Park and Natural Preserve


Landscapes and Waterscapes

Morning Walk by James Hunter

About James Hunter:

My name is James, but my friends call me Jaimito. I do massage therapy for work. Born and raised in San Francisco, though, I lived a chunk of my life in Vallejo. I love the Bay Area – there is so much to see here – and I also like to take trips to the Mediterranean. I fell in love with photography in summer school. There was a field trip that our class went on. I was maybe 9 or 10 years old and my mentor put a disposable camera in my hand to take photos of what was around me, and it changed my life from that point on. Now, I mainly take photos of my friends and family to savor the moments we all share.

Inspiration for photo:

What inspired me to take this photograph were the simple hues from the sunrise. It gives me a calm feeling in the morning and keeps me grounded. I enjoy walking this mountain every morning to boost my mood with the views and take in the fresh air and simply enjoy the peace of being present. So I snapped a still photo to bring myself back to that feeling whenever I’m away from my routine. Truly inspired by the moment, the fresh air, the solitude, the sunrise, the hues in the sky.

Location: San Bruno Mountain


Up Close with Nature

Snowy Egret Thrashes the Worm it Has Just Caught by Herb Hwang

About Herb Hwang:

My father (an avid amateur photographer) gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old. I spent more time sketching and painting at the time, but I did more photography in my teens and early twenties. Then work and family became priorities, so photography became more sporadic. In retirement, I now have time to practice photography as an art and science. I’ve learned a lot about technique through my membership in Peninsula Camera Club. Nature has always been my favorite subject, and with my new knowledge and equipment, I can photograph birds in action as well as landscapes.  Seeing the world with an eye for capturing ephemeral moments has become a joyous habit for me; the camera enables me to capture those moments. 

Inspiration for photo:

There are birds in action almost anywhere you look (urban pigeons included). I appreciate and photograph many such actions, but I have a special liking for successful egret hunts. Coyote Point Marina is a great place to see such action. This photo shows an especially dynamic “interaction” between the snowy egret and the worm; the worm (polychaete) is almost as much an actor as the egret. In San Mateo County, we’re very fortunate to have so many parks where we can see nature up close. My winning shot is one of a high speed burst series lasting 15 seconds. OM-1 body, Olympus 100-400 lens, shot at 400mm(800 equivalent),  f/8, 1/1250, ISO 1000.

Location: Coyote Point Marina


People in Parks (tie)

Mother to Son – Passing Down a Love for the Outdoors by Srikanth Cherukuri

About Srikanth Cherukuri:

Growing up in the bustling Indian city of Hyderabad, I always enjoyed a strong sense of community. When I moved to the Bay Area five years ago after more than a decade in Boston, I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous and diverse landscape we’re surrounded by and with the moderate weather that allows us to be outdoors all year round. I first got into photography because I was attracted to the technical side of it, but it quickly drew me into combining my love for both nature and people to create memorable imagery. Ever since, it gives me great joy to click beautiful moments of my friends and family, very often with a stunning Californian backdrop. I particularly enjoy capturing a candid smile or a lively conversation at golden hour.

Inspiration for photo:

Sawyer Camp Trail is my spiritual home as I go for a run there every time I need to clear my head after a busy day. Each time I look at the calm water against the hilly backdrop, I’m filled with gratitude for living less than a couple miles from here. It also happens to be a favorite spot for my family, particularly my dad who fell in love with the place during his brief time in the US. So when I read about the San Mateo County Parks Foundation photo contest, I knew what I wanted my entry to be about – the feeling at Sawyer Camp Trail of being close to nature while being in our great community.

Location: Sawyer Camp Trail segment of the Crystal Springs Regional Trail


Sunkissed by Jeff Regan

About Jeff Regan:

I was in the broadcast video production business for 40 years shooting all over the world for the entertainment industry and high tech corporations. A trip to the Galapagos Islands in 2013, ignited my love for nature photography. My wife suggested we move to the San Mateo coast after many midnight runs to shoot the Milky Way at my favorite lighthouse here as well as chasing colorful sunsets up and down the coast. After moving to Moss Beach five years ago, I knew I was in the right place, which I call “Disneyland for photographers!” My photography has been published in area calendars and won several local photo contests and has been displayed at local art galleries and businesses, raising thousands of dollars for local charitable organizations.

Inspiration for photo:

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, be it the cypress grove or Seal Cove, is a place that can change hour to hour depending on the light, the tide, the season. I never get tired of photographing the changing conditions. I can see the fog coming in and out of the cypress grove from my Moss Beach home loft. Being at this beautiful Reserve is therapeutic and always a welcome respite. The evening this photo was taken was originally about shooting the sunset and beach surf. There was one big pink cloud that lit up beautifully and I used a 14mm wide angle lens low on the sand to capture as much of the scene as possible. I then noticed a young mother with her toddler son taking in the beautiful sunset to my left. I took my camera off the tripod to get higher and aimed it towards them because the light was beautiful on their faces. I like to imagine what the little boy was thinking, witnessing the beautiful, colorful scene before him. Would he remember it, even subconsciously?

Location: Fitzgerald Marine Reserve


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