Why do we do it? For the sheer love of the art? For the money?

Some of the impetus that drives us to continue in our quest for publication is the pride we feel at seeing our work honed to perfection and shared with all the world.

OWAC strives to recognize the superior work created by our membership through the annual OWAC Craft Awards and the 2019 contest is now open submissions. Download and print out the rules and the submissions form and send in your entries for judging.

The final date for entry post mark is February 15, 2019, so start pulling together those published works you feel are worth of praise and award. No matter what your medium might be, you could achieve that highest honor, having your entry selected as work by the 2019 OWAC Writer of the Year.

OWAC-2019-Awards-Entry-form.pdf  /  2019 Craft-Rules.pdf

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February-March 2020 Newsletter Featured

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President’s Message

Feb/March Newsletter

    Along with the beginning of a new decade, 2020 also marks OWAC’s 35th anniversary. As you may already know, OWAC was formed in 1985 when a small group of California members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) decided to form a state organization. With the encouragement of other writers, Tom Stienstra wrote an inquiry letter to 75 prospective members in 1986. The reaction was so positive that by the end of that year, OWAC had 86 dues-paying members. Stienstra was named the first president and remains a strong force in the organization all these years later!

    Today, members will be happy to know that OWAC is on solid ground financially, membership numbers remain strong, and we will be awarding our first Pat Vachini Scholarships this year to a few high school age aspiring outdoor journalists.

    With the new year, it’s also time to pull together your best work from 2019 for recognition in our annual Excellence in Craft (EIC) awards where we recognize the best-of-the-best! Please be thinking about this and prepare your entries for submission before the deadline of March 31, 2020. Contest rules and entry forms are available on our website. The EIC awards offer a great opportunity to be recognized by your peers for your outstanding work and to promote your talents to prospective editors, publishers and to the public.

Carrie Wilson


Outdoor Writers Association of California

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(831) 402-6003


New Member Spotlight

    Henry Repeating Arms is one of the leading rifle and shotgun manufacturers in the United States and a world leader in the lever action category. The company motto is “Made in America, or not made at all” and its firearms come with a lifetime guarantee backed by award-winning customer service. The company is also known for its charitable endeavors under its Guns For Great Causes program, which focuses on sick children, both individual cases and children’s hospitals, veteran and wounded veteran organizations, Second Amendment and wildlife conservation organizations.     


From OWAC Executive Director, Bob Semerau

The start of this new year has begun rather inauspiciously, with some of our efforts falling flat.

Despite our best efforts, there looks to be no spring conference venue for us this year.

The options the Board of Directors had hoped to work with have not developed, and we are about out of time.

As members of OWAC you can help us to secure a venue for upcoming conferences by sharing your contacts at places you feel could benefit us all.

Send that contact info to me as noted below.

Board elections are coming up and there are a few seats open if you want to help build OWAC to a stronger, more vital organization. Watch for upcoming notices.

Bob Semerau

Executive Director

Outdoor Writers Association of California

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Board of Directors

Bob Semerau

Executive Director

Carrie Wilson



Carol Martens


Members at Large

Betsy Crowfoot

John Williamson

Gigi de Jong

Don Vachini

Chris Langley

Peter Schroeder

Barbara Steinberg

Tom Martens

John Poimiroo


Excellence in Craft Awards

Competition is now

open for submissions.


March 31, 2020

Check www.owac.org

for more information

CAWW Photograph of the Year

    By Barbara Steinberg

    Wildlife photographer Randy Robbins spent a considerable amount of time chasing bald eagles in his kayak on Antelope Lake in the Plumas National Forest. This may seem unusual but turned it out to be the best way to get opportunities to photograph them. After observing the birds for several summers, he located their nest which contained two eaglets. More easily accessible by water, he returned to the location several times to photograph the eaglets' growth and first short flights. From the water, he observed favorite perches and fishing locations that the adult parents were frequenting to bring a constant supply of meals to the growing fledglings.     Getting a photo of one of the adults catching a fish was a "bucket list" item for Randy. Determination and a lot of patience are represented in this image. He sums up the experience of obtaining this photo by saying "I was in the right place at the wrong time hundreds of times, and then in the right place at the right time once." After several hours on the water, when the moment presented itself, Randy didn't miss his opportunity to capture this winning photo proving once again that timing is everything!

    On January 23, 2020, Randy joined Senator Brian Dahle (R-Shasta Cascade/Northern Sierra Nevada), on the floor of the State Senate, where he received a Senate Proclamation honoring his photograph. January 21-24, 2020, the top nine images from the 2019 contest were part of a week-long display at the State Capitol. The photographs included all of the year's top finishers and special honorable mentions selected by representatives from Sierra Nevada ConservancyOut of This World Optics, and California Watchable Wildlife. 

To learn more about the photo contest, visit: www.CAWatchableWildlife.org


Craft Improvement Tip


All Images by John Poimiroo, taken on his iPhone 5 while on assignment in Iceland

Camera Phone Primer

By John Poimiroo

Not having a camera with you is no longer an excuse. Just about everyone carries a camera these days.

The images taken by today’s camera phones are of higher quality than the film cameras most of us carried 20 years ago. Apple’s latest iPhone, the 11, has three lenses, optical zoom and delivers 12 megapixels in resolution. Even most older cell phone take pictures good enough for digital media.

It’s rightly said that the best camera made is the one you have with you. So, here are some tips to taking better photos with camera phones … the ones you have with you.


Composing Better Pictures

By John Poimiroo

Taking better pictures begins with understanding composition. Here are some suggestions for composing better pictures:

·        Rule of Thirds – the most basic composing tool used by photographers is the Rule of Thirds. Imagine dividing the camera frame (what you see) into thirds vertically and horizontally. Placing the subject at one of the four places those imaginary lines intersect will often provide the most dynamic and interesting image. Not every photograph should be taken this way, but the rule of thirds often creates the most exciting images.




Here’s a 30-day challenge that doesn’t involve calorie counting, push-ups or abstinence of any kind!

OWAC’s 30-day challenge is to populate our Facebook page with YOUR excellent work during the month of February (oops, makes that a 29-day challenge!). Send the link of your favorite published or broadcast piece to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will post it to the OWAC FB page. Get more eyeballs! Get more Likes! Get a few ‘atta-boys/atta-girls’ too, while you help bring more attention to the great OWAC organization. Email your link now to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Thanks! ~ Betsy Senescu



Photo by Clayton Peoples

Wildlife Profile: California Black Bears

Ursus americanus californiensis, the California Black Bear is one of two black bear subspecies in California, Bearsoftheworld.net tells us. The other is the Olympic Black Bear.

 Numbering 32,000, California black bear range from the coastal mountains of Southern California to the Cascade Range. Found living between 3,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation, this subspecies is believed to be geographically separated from the Olympic black bear along the Klamath Mountains in Northern California.

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Outdoor Writers Association of California
PO Box 50136
Oxnard, CA 93031