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Sonoma Mountain Preservation announces photo contest winners

Sonoma Mountain Preservation announces photo contest winners
“View of Carriger Creek Watershed,” taken near Grove Street in Diamond A, Sonoma, by Eric Hongisto (first place).

By Meg Beeler

Three amazing local photographers have won Sonoma Mountain Preservation’s (SMP) First Annual Sense of Place photography contest. Augmenting the 140 photos in the recently published book, Where the World Begins, these images capture more wonder and delight on Sonoma Mountain.

The first-place winner is the gorgeous View of Carriger Creek Watershed by Eric Hongisto of Penngrove. His pictures of Sonoma Mountain capture the wonder of its perennial creeks, forests, and ancient volcanic formations along the Rogers Creek Fault. Hongisto is an art professor at the University of San Francisco. You can see more of his work at

Vickie Wilde, the second-place winner with Misty Mountain, says, “The photo was shot on a sunny, bright, warm day in downtown Petaluma, but as I was driving up Sonoma Mountain, a cloud had settled on the mountaintop, creating a mystic scene in which I could not resist shooting a photo through the windshield of my car.” Wilde lives part-time in Petaluma and part-time in Montecito.

The leaping hare, captured by Leo Merle, takes third place. The photo was taken at the top of Grove Street on East Sonoma Mountain, where he has lived since 1976. He calls the photo, I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. Merle’s photography is on permanent display in his office at 470 First St. East in Sonoma.

SMP held the photo contest as part of its mission to cultivate a sense of place, engage people with the landscape, and inspire them to become Sonoma Mountain stewards. Photos were judged on the appeal of the composition and subject matter, overall quality of the image, and interpretation of the theme, “A Sense of Place.”

The first-prize winner received a copy of SMP’s awardwinning book, Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images. Since Hongisto already owns the book, he is donating it to the library.

The other prize winners received very cool Sonoma Mountain mugs, imprinted with one of photographer Scott Hess’s photos.

To learn about the next contest, planned for spring 2023, subscribe to SMP’s newsletter at or see SMP’s Facebook or Instagram pages. SMP has been speaking for Sonoma Mountain since 1993.