LOVEBIRDS Bob Sanderson of Stony Brook recently snapped this photo of two cardinals in his backyard. He writes, “l titled this photo ‘Lovebirds,’ although I doubt if they are kissing. I had just come back from a photo shoot at West Meadow Beach and gone out to my backyard and saw a red cardinal. Just as I pointed the camera at him, the other appeared. It all took place in a matter of seconds. The timing was just dumb luck.”

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Judy Welter recently snapped a photo of her 2-year-old grandson, Connor, at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook holding his very first hermit crab. She writes, “He couldn’t be more delighted. My son’s picture [Connor’s uncle] appeared in your newspaper 41 years ago. He too, was playing by the shore at low tide and is pictured with a hermit crab in hand. Time for the next generation to discover our wonderful beach.”


Don Michne of Miller Place recently snapped this photo of a young white-tailed deer at Cedar Beach in Mount Sinai. He writes, “My wife, Mary, and I go for frequent walks at the beach. Mary was first to notice the deer. I took many photo’s of him; he seemed very tame. The next two evenings in a row we found him again, never in the same location but always nearby. I got the feeling he was expecting us. We never fed him, just talked. Of the dozens of photos I took of him, we liked this one the most, sticking his tongue out at us.”

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PARTY OF SEVEN Jane Edsall spotted this family of mute swans swimming in Mount Sinai Harbor two weeks ago. She writes, “I am a resident of Mount Sinai and have enjoyed the harbor and its wildlife my whole life.” Brought to this country from Europe in the mid-1800s to adorn city parks and large estates, mute swans are known to mate for life. The cygnets will stay with their parents through the first winter.

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HOO ARE YOU? Noah A. Colamussi of Rocky Point spotted this eastern screech owl just hanging out in a tree in his backyard last week after a rain shower. Despite their name, screech owls do not screech, instead communicating through whinnies and soft trills. Night hunters, their diet consists mostly of large insects and small rodents.

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“Photography helps people see.” — Berenice Abbott

By Heidi Sutton

Last Thursday evening, Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Commack held a reception honoring the award recipients of its annual Photo Contest complete with a traditional slide show.

This year’s competition, which has grown exponentially from humble beginnings 24 years ago, drew over 700 entries from amateur photographers across the country. In all, 45 photos were selected to be enlarged and framed for permanent display for the enjoyment of those who live and work in the 460-bed nursing and rehabilitation center. According to Deninne Cook, director of public relations for Gurwin, the yearly event began as a way to decorate the walls of the newly opened facility.

“That first year, we had 100 entries and chose 10 winners, mounted them on foam board and hung them in the main hall,” she said. When some of the photos, especially those depicting babies and pets, started to wear out from being kissed so much, the staff started to frame the winners and “we decided that they should remain in our collection for many years.”

A contest with a purpose

Today, the photographs are moved from the Helen and Nat Tiffen Gallery, located in the main corridor at Gurwin, to the resident units as each year’s new group of winners is announced. “Each of the winning photos for the past 20 plus years is hanging on the wall somewhere in the facility, bringing joy to someone each and every day,” said Cook.

Addressing the winners, the public relations director said, “Although competitive and a great achievement for you as a photographer, [the contest] is really about the people who get to see your work once it is chosen,” adding that for the nursing home residents, the beautiful photographs bring back fond memories and “stir up a whole host” of emotions. “And it’s at times like that when we remember why we hold this contest,” she added.

This year’s judges, Michael Cassera of The Tiffen Company (which has sponsored the event for the last 11 years), Alex Horvath of Newsday and Tony Lopez (Tony Lopez Photography) had the arduous task of choosing grand prize winners along with honorable mentions for 12 categories including Nature, Pets, Children, Action/Sports, and Long Island/New York as well as Best in Show and Best in Show Runner-Up. In addition, a panel of resident judges also chose six of their favorites.

What happens to the remaining 650 plus entries? According to Dawn Lettau, director of therapeutic recreation for Gurwin, nothing goes to waste. “We can’t wait for the [remaining] entries to be turned over to us each year. We use them as inspiration for original paintings, collages and other projects all year long, so even photos that aren’t selected as winners are winners to us,” she said.

“While you certainly will bring home a memento of your award tonight, I hope you will leave with the knowledge that the true ‘prize’ is that your photo will bring a smile to someone’s face and a lift to someone’s spirits,” said Cook. “All of the selections, will be judged, discussed and enjoyed by so many appreciative eyes for years to come and to me that is the real honor.”

Entries for the 2018 Gurwin Photo Contest will be accepted beginning in mid-February 2018. Past participants will receive an entry form in the mail. Entry forms will also be available online at


Best in Show “Corinth Sheep” by James Napoli

Best in Show Runner-Up “Riding with Dad” by Jo-Anne Bodkin

Action/Sports Category

Grand Prize “Long Island Surfer” by Donna Crinnian

Honorable Mention “Bull Dogger” by Frank DiBenedetto

Honorable Mention “Rappelling in the Negev” by Dan Greenburg

Altered/Enhanced Category

Grand Prize “Guggenheim Museum Ceiling” by Joe Constantino

Honorable Mention “Near You” by Susan Kozodoy-Silkowitz

Honorable Mention “Existential Escalator” by Robert Oliva

Children’s Category

Grand Prize “Sun Kissed” by Joseph Peragallo

Honorable Mention “African School Children” by Carol Goldstein

Honorable Mention “Big Eyes” by Janet Pieper

Landscapes Category

Grand Prize “Mystical Canyon” by Andrew Ehrlich

Honorable Mention “Autumn Sun” by Michael Danielson

Honorable Mention “Portland Head Lighthouse” by Ellen Dunn

Long Island/ New York Category

Grand Prize “Morning Ride” by Karen Celella

Honorable Mention “Ball of Fire” by Joseph Deo

Honorable Mention “Tribute of Light” by Marzena Grabczynska

Nature Category

Grand Prize “A Hobbit’s View” by Alan Sloyer

Honorable Mention “Colors of Nature” by Mike DiRenzo

Honorable Mention “Northern Lights” by Lorraine Piskin

People Category

Grand Prize “Cuban Farmer” by Kathleen Hinkaty

Honorable Mention “Indian Man” by Jan Golden

Honorable Mention “Beyond Borders” by Belle Lin

Pets Category

Grand Prize “One Good Lick” by Barbara McCahill

Honorable Mention “Hi There!” by Jane Maresco

Honorable Mention “Oliver” by Mario Santiago

Still Life Category

Grand Prize “Fort Royal” by Robert Oliva

Honorable Mention “The Bouquet” by Winifred Boyd

Honorable Mention “Elgin No. 1” by Stan Mehlman

Travel Category

Grand Prize “Nuns in the Rain, Myanmar” by Richard Witkover

Honorable Mention “Field of Light” by Karen Celella

Honorable Mention “Bay of Fundy” by Carol Goldstein

Wildlife Category

Grand Prize “Watching the Sunset” by Donna Crinnian

Honorable Mention “Breeding Plumage” by Donna Crinnian

Honorable Mention “Roxie’s Kits” by Jay Gammill

Student Category

Grand Prize “Flying Free’ by Susan Krage

Honorable Mention “Sophia” by Eliana Davidoff

Honorable Mention “African Sunset” by Teddy Koutsoftas

LIVING THE BEACH LIFE Jay Gammill of East Setauket captured this image of a piping plover at West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook on May 3. The shorebird, which derives its name from the bell-like whistled peeps it uses for communication, is considered threatened due to human activity, receiving protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1985.

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AMBASSADOR OF THE LAKE This friendly Canadian goose greeted all visitors to Lake Ronkonkoma on a recent Sunday afternoon. The lake and the surrounding beaches have undergone a dramatic resurgence over the last year, thanks to the efforts of the Lake Ronkonkoma Improvement Group. Photo by Heidi Sutton

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EN PLEIN AIR: Gerard Romano of Port Jefferson Station captured this image of an artist painting plein air, a French expression meaning ‘In the open air,’ at Setauket Harbor in May using a Nikon D7100 with a Nikkor 18-200 zoom lens.

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BON APPÉTIT! Jay Gao of Stony Brook took this photo of a robin feeding its babies in his backyard on May 10 using a Nikon D5500. After hatching, baby robins spend anywhere from nine to 15 days in the nest. The fledglings then leave the nest and move about on the ground and on low branches for a few days before they can fly.

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