Novato photographer Harvey Abernathey hit a proverbial home run in his first year of semi-retirement when he was named one of seven winners of National Geographic photography contest and will soon have a chance to win a grand prize gallery show in New York.
Abernathey's winning photo, “Harold's Tree,” was one of thousands of entries submitted to the “My Thailand, My Story” photo competition. The seven winners received an all-expenses-paid trip to Thailand, valued at $5,000, with National Geographic travel photographer Alison Wright.
The winners will showcase the photos in an online photo album on which the general public can vote for the grand prize winner, who will receive a photography exhibit in New York.
To prepare for the trip, Abernathey said that he spent weeks researching the country of Thailand by spending lots of time at Marin County public libraries.
“I looked at every book I could find about Thailand, even in the children’s section,” Abernathey said.
On the technical side, Abernathey said that he spent a lot of time making sure his equipment and lenses were in working order and properly calibrated, all the while, knowing that he had to be able to carry anything he brought.
Because his winning photo was a time-lapse photo taken at night, Abernathey also did several test shots in the weeks before the trip.
Physically, Abernathey was prepared for the hot and humid temperatures of the season but had some concern of a foot injury that was still bothering him a few weeks before the trip.
“I’m totally happy and excited at the same time,” he said. “It’s almost like butterflies in the stomach.”
Although the trip brings together the seven first prize photographers in a head-to-head competition, Abernathey had a different take on the experience.
“I’m pursuing a longtime passion,” Abernathey said. “This experience will kick start me in a much better direction and I always look forward to travelling with other photographers.”
Newly semi-retired from a Novato-based water infiltration company, , Abernathey said the word “retirement” doesn’t really fit— calling his photography more of a career change.
Voting for the grand prize winning online album will open to the general public after Dec. 10 on the National Geographic website for "My Thailand, My Story."