By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
The decision is final.
Of the 13 photos featured in the 2011 National 4-H Calendar, three are by young photographers from Bell County.
'And we couldn't be prouder of them,' said photo trainer Harold Carter of the Oenaville 4-H club.
Children, ages 8 to 18, from 4-H clubs around the country sent in close to a million pictures for the calendar. Bell County alone submitted 12,000. The submissions that won had to make it through the chapter, district and state levels.
'This calender contest - it's the highest competition for 4-H photographers,' Carter said. 'And to be chosen is a big honor.'
Bell County's three star photographers for 2011 are 16-year-old Danielle Fasolino of Belton and the Coffman siblings from Temple - 11-year-old Emma-Leigh and 9-year-old Christian. Entitled 'Bubbles,' Miss Fasolino's winning photo is of a blue fish with yellow stripes.
'It was taken in an aquarium at Sea World,' Miss Fasolino said. 'I thought those fish were beautiful, and I knew I could get the perfect picture if I could take enough shots.'
A member of the 4-His Glory 4-H in Belton, Miss Fasolino joins her brother David as a 4-H calendar photographer. His photo of a map and compass is paired with the month of January in the 2010 calendar.
'The contests run two years ahead,' Carter explained.
Emma-Leigh's photo is of a young girl in traditional Mexican wear at the San Jose Mission in San Antonio. She calls the piece, 'Living History.'
And Christian - his winning picture, 'All American Girl,' was of his big sister holding an American flag.
Members of Oenaville 4-H, the Coffman siblings say they love photography. And they are old hands at it.
Emma-Leigh has earned the title of Best of Show at photography contests, and her work has been featured on magazine covers and in previous National 4-H Calendars. Some of Christian's work is on permanent display at a hospital in Australia, and he's taken the rank of Grand Champion at photo contests.
'All these kids do wonderful work,' Carter said. 'They take some nice pictures.'
Ilene Miller of Temple, a 4-H supporter, agrees.
'These kids work hard throughout the year, and they turn out some beautiful stuff,' she said.
All of the winning photos were taken with digital cameras.
'It's all pretty much transitioned to digital,' Carter said. 'All of our kids know how to work film, but with digital cameras, they get more experience and practice without the expense of film. The quality was shabby a few years ago when the transition started, but digital is just as good or better nowadays.'
Eighteen photos from Bell County children have been published in the 4-H calendar since the national competition launched in 2001.
Most of those have come from the Oenaville Club.
Success, Carter thinks, is owed to the annual Bell County 4-H photography workshop, which for this year is set for June 22 at the Bell County Expo in Belton.
'It's a good workshop,' Carter said. 'We have a lot of good photographers come in to teach the basics of photography. And it's done on a kid's level, so nothing is over their heads.'
This year's photo workshop will be open to all youth from Texas, regardless of 4-H membership.
'You might say we're giving all our tricks and secrets away,' Carter said. 'But that's not what happens. As we teach others, we just keep on getting better and better.'