Two Lincoln Journal Star photojournalists have won prestigious awards from the National Press Photographers Association.
Robert Becker won first place in the environment (nature and wildlife) category of The Best of Photojournalism 2012 for "Welcome Visitor," a photo he took of a grasshopper and honeybee in a sunflower field in Southeast Nebraska.
He competed against still photographers from around the world.
Becker took the photo on an early September morning when he stopped along Nebraska 41 west of Adams on his way to work. He took photos and after about 90 minutes noticed a grasshopper perched on a sunflower as if it were waiting for something.
"I focused on it and started to pray that the Lord would send one of the many honeybees in the field in the hopper's direction. Minutes later he answered my prayer, and I snapped the picture," Becker said.
It was published with another photo on the front page and in an online gallery.
Becker has worked at the Journal Star for 28 years.
Francis Gardler won the association’s Region 9 Photographer of the Year contest in which members enter five categories throughout the year: spot news, general news, feature (single), feature (multiple) and sports. An illustration category is judged quarterly.
Photographers judge the images, which must be published in print or online. Each piece is awarded a specific number of points. At the end of the year the photographer with the highest point total is recognized as the Regional Photographer of the Year.
The NPPA divides the world into 11 regions. Region 9 includes five Canadian territories and Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
Gardler amassed 804 points in 2011. AAron Ontiveroz of The Denver Post took second with 614 points, and Jeffrey Allred of the Deseret News (Utah) won third place with 424 points.
This is the fifth time Gardler has been named a Regional Photographer of the Year. He won the Region 3 prize four times while working for Patuxent Publishing Co. in Maryland. He has worked at the Journal Star since December 2010.