When you think about it, it's probably no big surprise Bob Pudell won our August Photo Finish photography contest.
Oh, sure, the photo he submitted is eye-catching. And, yes, it's technically very sound. You can clearly see why our photo staff chose it as the month's top entry.
About our contestEach week our Neighbor section includes at least one entry in our Photo Finish photography contest. If you would like to submit a photo, email it in .jpg format with at least 300 dpi resolution to firstname.lastname@example.org.
But here's the kicker, and there's really no way around it: Bob Pudell is a pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle and he took a really cool picture of the Blue Angels.
Pastor. Angels. Get it? That is what we call serendipity.
Pudell himself sounds like he didn't tie the two things together until you mention it. Then he laughs. "There is a little connection," he says.
But really, he says, he was focusing on the Blue Angels during their recent practice for the Chicago Air and Water Show not because of some heavenly inspiration but because "they're more renowned" than many of the performers and because "the colors were great; the blue planes against the different skies that were there."
Of course, DuPage Photo Director Scott Sanders didn't know Pudell was really Rev. Pudell when he selected his photo as our winner.
"I like it because it has great composition with the planes, the shadows and the spectators," Sanders said. "The unusual perspective of shooting down on the planes really helps separate it from ordinary air show photos shot from the ground. Also, I looked at it with and without the black border, and for some reason, I like it better with the border, which kind of looks like a frame."
For his efforts, Pudell will receive a $50 gift certificate from PJ's Camera, Pickwick Place Plaza, 662 Roosevelt Road, Glen Ellyn.
Pudell says he was watching the Blue Angels and others practice from his perch in the John Hancock Observatory. He shot a sequence of photos using his Nikon D800 as the Navy jets flew by and decided to submit this one because it was the sharpest image. It's the first time he's entered our contest.
"(The observatory is) a great place to watch the show," he says, "but it's not a great place to shoot from because of the thickness of the glass. You can't shoot from an angle, you have to shoot straight through."
He says he expected a large crowd in the observatory, but there were only a handful of people there with cameras, and many of them were taking pictures with their phones -- not exactly ideal for capturing jets zinging by.
A second-career pastor, Pudell says he's been taking pictures since he was 12. He doesn't remember exactly what got him started, but it was around then he also began collecting cameras -- at least in part because he's mechanically inclined.
He now has 25 or 30 in his collection, mostly antiques, including one that dates to 1906.
In only his second year as a pastor, he says he started getting interested in aviation photography earlier this year during a visit to Oshkosh, Wis.
But while it's hard to resist shooting Blue Angels -- whatever your profession -- the pastor says he's still mostly drawn to photographing nature.
That's no big surprise, either.
"I enjoy capturing things God created," he says.