Art For The Airwaves Contest Winner: David Whiteman

Apr 19, 2018

David Whiteman stands on his back balcony of his home in Centre Hall, holding his winning Art for the Airwaves poster print.
Credit photo: Kristine Allen, WPSU

The Winner of WPSU's Annual Art for the Airwaves contest hails from the rolling hills, woods and farmland of Centre Hall. 

"I grew up on a dairy farm just about five miles from here," he says. "I have a financial planning practice that I've been doing for 24 years."

In Whiteman's house, you'll find his photographs on almost every wall and table.  And they make it clear he loves nature and wildlife.

He shows me a photo of a chipmunk, that won an honorable mention in Pennsylvania Magazine's annual photo contest last year;  a close-up shot of a cardinal on a branch, in luxuriously vivid red; and a photo of a snowy owl taken in Central Pennsylvania.  There are diverse nature scenes from as far away as Iceland, and a lot of local photos, like a waterfall pouring over moss-covered rocks at Ricketts Glenn.

Whiteman takes sharp, eye-popping nature photographs. But he says he has no plans to go pro.  

"To me, it’s a pure hobby," he says.

Whiteman bought his first camera when he was in the military in 1976.  But his interest really took off with the advent of digital photography.

"Because with digital photography," he says, "you have instant feedback. You can see the result of your photograph."

Whiteman’s winning image for WPSU’s Art for the Airwaves contest was taken at an Amish farm in Mifflin County.  There are corn stacks in the foreground on a farmer’s field, with buildings and bare trees in the distance.  The field is tinged with frost: a contrast to the warm colors of sunrise in the sky.

"In the fall," he says, "the Amish tend to put up these corn stacks.  And I was thinking about a photograph that I would like to incorporate using these corn stacks, but I wanted to do it during a sunrise. "

And so in November, Whiteman seized his opportunity to turn piles of corn into art.

"I just got up early one morning and drove over to Big Valley," he says,"and kind of looked around to create a couple compositions and set up my tripod and my camera and started to fire away. 

Whiteman estimates he took about 30 photos that morning.

"But this one, I think, worked the best," he says, "given its soft light; sunrise coming up on the corn stacks;  frost on the ground; and the click-clock of the horses going by and the buggys on a Sunday morning.  It was kind of neat."

When he got the photo back home, Whiteman applied some digital tools to enhance the image.

With digital photography, he says, "you have the ability to take your photograph and create your own vision of what you think it should look like. you can adjust the exposure; you can adjust white balance; you can adjust contrast to create a specific mood."

Whiteman’s photograph, titled “Sunrise on the Corn Stacks” is WPSU’s 2018 Art for the Airwaves winner.