Why do we do it? For the sheer love of the art? For the money?

Some of the impetus that drives us to continue in our quest for publication is the pride we feel at seeing our work honed to perfection and shared with all the world.

OWAC strives to recognize the superior work created by our membership through the annual OWAC Craft Awards and the 2019 contest is now open submissions. Download and print out the rules and the submissions form and send in your entries for judging.

The final date for entry post mark is February 15, 2019, so start pulling together those published works you feel are worth of praise and award. No matter what your medium might be, you could achieve that highest honor, having your entry selected as work by the 2019 OWAC Writer of the Year.

OWAC-2019-Awards-Entry-form.pdf  /  2019 Craft-Rules.pdf

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October/November 2018 Newsletter

This is the newsletter for OCT/NOV 2018


Board of Directors

Bob Semerau

Executive Director

Tom Martens



Carol Martens


Members at Large

Betsy Crowfoot

Meade Fischer

John Henigin

Kathie Morgan

Chris Langley

Peter Schroeder

Barbara Steinberg

Carrie Wilson



Small but Mighty. Many OWAC members had scheduling conflicts with our mini-conference in Santa Barbara but those attending will have a great Tim e. A complete report will; be in the Dec-Jan newsletter



New Member Profile

Featured Photographer

Spring Conference 2019

OWAC Member Adventures

Craft Improvement

California of the Year

Excellence in Craft: Rules and Application Form

Supporting Member

Pat Vachini Scholarship

and more......




By Merit McCrea



Gigi de Jong is a travel, adventure, and arts

writer and photo- grapher who lives in the beautiful

Eastern Sierra town of Bishop, California. She writes short and long. stories about places to visit, things to see and do, and adventures to be had for bishopvisitor. com. A recent story was published in Outdoor California (the official publication of the California Department.of Fish and Wildlife)as a feature article. Her writing and photo- graphy. has also appeared on sierrawave.net,

californiafallcolor.com. and published in Hang Gliding & Paragliding magazine. She is a professional member. of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC). 

Gigi makes ample use of Bishop’s big backyard to rock climb, hike, cycle, and snowboard, and also participates (often as a volunteer helper) in the many community adventure, arts and social events. She doesn’t consider herself. to be a professional photo- grapher, but many of her articles are. illustrated with her. own photography. 

Some years ago, Gigi opted out of a ‘normal’. life to spend 10 months riding a touring bicycle around the western USA. and Canada. She wrote an extensive blog about. this life-changing experience, which is now in the process of. being rewritten as a book. 

Gigi can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and (760) 258-6753





Dear Members,

To develop a more effective organization and achieve the goals of communication and education about the outdoors, your Board of Directors has created the attached Committee Matrix.

The intent is to give all OWAC members an opportunity to be involved in the organization's efforts and to direct OWAC's future endeavors. Board member Peter Schroder has contacted committee chairpersons listed and discussed the responsibilities of each committee.

Upon review of the list, please feel free to contact your committee chairperson to begin developing the area of responsibility covered under your committee.

If they have not already done so, your committee chair will be in touch to set up a conference call and begin the process of moving OWAC forward.

Bob Semerau

Staff Writer, Western Outdoor News

Executive Director, Outdoor Writers Association of California




By John Poimiroo


By John Poimiroo

California has the longest, most diverse and – I am convinced – the most spectacular autumn in North America. As editor of CaliforniaFallColor.com, I write this with conviction and thousands of photographs that support that contention.

Incorporating fall color adds a richness to outdoor photography not seen in any other season. Though the air is often crisp and still, grasses, shrubs and leaves carry their warmest, most inviting tones to all sorts of outdoor sports and scenes.

Because of the low angle of sunlight and its warmth, gorgeous images can be captured all day, though the golden hours after sunrise and before sunset are even better than in other seasons of the year. 

During sunrise and sunset, sunlight must pass through more of the atmosphere before we see it. Blue light, because of its shorter wavelength, is scattered easiest by nitrogen and oxygen air molecules. Whereas longer wavelength reds and oranges aren’t scattered as easily. As days grow shorter, sunrise and sunset light intensifies.

Autumn weather patterns also bring drier, cleaner air from the north, allowing more colors of the spectrum to be seen without being scattered by particles in the air, “producing brilliant sunsets and sunrises that can look red, orange, yellow or even pink,” The Weather Channel advises.

All that rich color intensifies the drama of fall color photography. To capture it, follow these tips.

Get Up Early and Don’t Give Up –The most successful landscape photographers are early risers and stick around, well past sunset when others have given up. Because they’re out when others are still snug in bed; they capture light others never see. And, because they don’t quit after the sun has set, they discover that often, the light just keeps getting better.

Be Prepared – Waterproof boots, woolen socks, warm gloves, a knit hat, a light jacket, layers of clothing, freshly recharged and extra batteries, extra blank memory cards, two camera bodies, varied lenses, a lens brush, a tripod, a collapsible reflector, a flashlight, eye glasses, water, an energy bar … these are essential kit for an outdoor photographer to stay comfortable, to stay out longer and to come back with good photographs. 

Think Big – Set your camera to take large pictures. Small images are useful only on social media. They’re not useful to publications. Move personal shots off your camera or device to a photo sharing app so that you have space for new photos. Delete images you don’t plan to keep or use, to conserve memory. If you plan to reprint photos, shoot in RAW. Otherwise a “Fine” .jpg is big enough for most newspapers, all web uses and some magazines, but anything smaller is probably useless.

 Steady As She Goes – Getting a sharp picture that shows crisp detail and can be enlarged is more challenging in low light conditions, which is often the case during autumn. Be mindful of adjusting your camera’s ISO (sensor speed) to 400 or higher to allow for a faster shutter speed in low light, or use a tripod with a camera remote.

Back to Basics – Taking pictures with your camera set to manual “M”, aperture “A” or shutter speed “S” mode makes you a better photographer, because it engages your mind in deciding what’s most important to the picture you plan to take. When you shoot on programmed auto “P”, you disengage your brain. 

If you are most concerned about what will be in focus, set the mode to “A.” In this mode, you set the aperture and shutter speed is adjusted by the camera. A small aperture (e.g., f22) will allow more of the scene, foreground and background, to be in focus. A large aperture (e.g., f3.8) reduces the focal distance, concentrating attention on the point of focus. Photographers who set their camera to small apertures in order to get foreground and background in focus are seeking what photographers call, “hyper focal distance.”

If you are most concerned about stopping motion (such as in stopping quaking aspen from fluttering out of focus), set the mode to “S” and set the speed to show or stop motion. A speed of 1/125 of a second will stop camera shake and slow movements. With landscape photographs, snap a test shot and view it in the camera’s monitor, enlarging to see any motion, then adjust speed to stop motion. The appearance of motion in a photograph can be a good thing, if not distracting, but informative.

“M” mode adjusts both “S” and “A” concurrently by the photographer, providing the greatest latitude for creative expression, but also can result in underexposed or overexposed images. If you plan to shoot a specific scene (e.g., fireworks, the moon, city lights), Google “How to photograph … ” in advance, so that you know how to set your camera to get a good result.

Know Where and When To Go – Peak fall color began appearing in California at 10,000’ in elevation in mid-September. Full peak occurred at California’s highest elevations before the first day of autumn, and it will continue to peak at successively lower elevations (dropping at a rate of 500 to 1,000’ each week) to December. That means, your photographs can dependably include brilliant yellow, orange or red leaves if you plan trips to where it will be peaking, as occurred in past years. CaliforniaFallColor.com can help. I you know where you plan to be, search on the site for when it was peaking in the past and go then. If you know when you plan to travel, use the site to find locations that peaked in the past at that time and go there. By using this approach, you should be able to dependably include fall color in your outdoor photography.

Then, too, you’ll be adding the most spectacular autumn in North America to your fall articles.


Bob Semerau




OWAC Has 5 New Members of the Board Directors


            Members of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Writers Association of California (OWAC) welcome five new members to its ranks.

            The new members, who will serve until the spring conference, bring the total number of directors to 12.

            The new members include:

            John Henigin– A long-time OWAC volunteer, John lives in Santa Barbara and is probably best known for his nationally syndicated radio program called “Fish Talk Radio.”

            OWAC has honored the radio program many times, including naming it the “Best Outdoor Radio Show of the Year.”

            John has been instrumental in organizing the OWAC conference in Santa Barbara.

            He is a member of OWAC’s committees working on conferences, membership recruitment and raffle and silent auction donation solicitation.

            Kathie Morgan– Kathie is a returning member of the board, having served for a number of years but then taking a break.

            A resident of Santa Rosa, she has been instrumental in working on many of the legal, operational and record-keeping documents for OWAC.

            She is chair of the Californian of the Year Committee and a member of the committee working on publicity, outreach and social media.

Christopher Langley – A resident of Lone Pine in the Eastern Sierra, Chris is the author or co-author of a number of books dealing with the history of Lone Pine and other topics.

As executive director of the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History, Chris has gathered images of Lone Pine from the museum's collection and that of the Eastern California Museum to capture the diverse history of this land “worth fighting for.”                                 

He is the author of two Images of America books – “Lone Pine and “Mount Whitney” and a short film history of Death Valley. 

He is collaborating with photographer Osceola Refetoff on a project called “High & Dry: Dispatches from the Land of Little Rain.” Their work appears regularly on KCET ArtboundProgram and in the Mojave Desert magazine, The Sun Runner. They are at work on a book about they recent exhibit at MOAH in Lancaster entitles "Land Artifacts."

Chris is currently president of the Inyo County School Board, which is engaged in creating and running a series of small charter high schools in Los Angeles in partnership with YouthBuild and the California Conservation Corp.

Chris is the chair of the OWAC Newsletter Committee.

            John Poimiroo– A resident of El Dorado Hills, most of John’s work hours are now spent editing and publishing CaliforniaFallColor.com, which he founded in 2009.  He also produces editorial, broadcast and photographic content for the Mountain Democrat newspaper in Placerville, the American Forces Network and occasionally takes on freelance assignments.

            John has received over 50 awards during his long career as a travel writer.

            He is the chair of the OWAC Craft Improvement Committee.

            Meade Fischer– A resident of Watsonville when he’s not traveling, Meade is an avid sea kayaker. He is the author of a dozen eclectic books, including “With the Sea Beside Me: An Intimate Guide to California’s Central and North Coast.”

            He is members of OWAC committees working on conferences, the Excellence in Craft Contest and the newsletter.

            Tom Martens is the President of the OWAC Board of Directors.


















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