Rancho Santa Fe student a top five finalist in nationwide photography contest

Adam Stibla was a finalist in the Earth Science Week 2013 Photography Contest, showcasing Rancho Santa Fe under the theme “Mapping My Community.” Photo/Karen Billing

By Karen Billing

R. Roger Rowe sixth grader Adam Stibla was recently named a top five finalist in the Earth Science Week 2013 Photography Contest, out of hundreds of entries nationwide.

The contest’s theme was “Mapping My Community” and Adam’s top-five-placing entry portrayed iconic images from all over Rancho Santa Fe, as well as a hand-drawn map of the Covenant.

Adam selected scenic spots in the Ranch such as Lago Linda Lake, historic buildings and flowers in the village, the fire station, his school, a signature monument rock, the RSF Golf Club, the well-loved trails and even a hot air balloon launch.

Adam said part of the reason he entered the contest was to get extra credit in his science class with teacher Tanya Baumgardner, but he also had other motives.

“I really love my community, it’s really beautiful,” said Adam. “I also did it for my mom because I really love her. She encourages me a lot and she’s always by my side and helping me.”

Adam has always been interested in photography, preferring to take nature pictures using his iPad or, if he’s lucky, he gets to borrow his mom Hajnalka’s camera.

“I like to take pictures of flowers when they’re wet and have little water droplets,” Adam said.

For this project, Adam borrowed his mom’s camera and his parents drove around one weekend afternoon for his photo shoot. Two of his hardest subjects were the action shots —snapping a horseback rider and arriving exactly at 4 p.m. to catch a hot air balloon lift-off.

Adam Stibla’s photo that finished in the top five in the Earth Science Week 2013 Photography Contest.

“I found it really fun because I got to spend time with my parents,” Adam said.

It took him a few days to select which shots he wanted to use for his project and to draw his Ranch map — his mom was very complimentary of his “unbelievable” artwork.

He submitted his photo project on Oct. 18 and heard he was a finalist one day after school.

“My mom picked me up from school and she said she had very good news,” Adam said. “I was stunned because I’ve never won anything like that before. It was pretty amazing.”

Adam’s favorite subject in school is science and he will turn 12 in just a couple of weeks. In addition to photography, he likes to play soccer before school in fifth grade vs. sixth grade match-ups, and he also recently earned his black belt in karate — a five-year process he took on with his father.