Plain Dealer Travel Photo Contest winners chosen

You don’t have to travel far to take a terrific travel photo. Four out of 13 winning images in the sixth annual Plain Dealer Travel Photo Contest were taken in Northeast Ohio, including three in downtown Cleveland.

The rest of the top pictures span the globe — from Peru to India, Japan to Dubai.

The Grand Prize-winning photo, a serene lake scene, was taken in central Maine by Sharyn Peterson of Independence.

Amateur photographers from across Ohio submitted nearly 6,000 images in three contest categories: Sense of Place, People of the World and Close to Home. A panel of three professional photographers judged the images. Winners include a college student, a musician, a physician and others.

In addition, this was the inaugural year for the Youth Division, open to photographers 13 to 17. Winner Betsy Naymon, a junior at Revere High School in Richfield, wowed the judges with her colorful shot of performers at an Incan archaeological site in southern Peru.

The judges — Nancy McEntee, a professor of photography at the Cleveland Institute of Art; Roger Mastroianni, house photographer for the Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Play House; and Susan Kirkman Zake, a lecturer at Kent State University and a former editor at the Akron Beacon Journal — gathered in late March to select the winners.

After spending hours considering the merits of hundreds of images, they came to these conclusions:

• A beautiful sunset isn’t enough to make a compelling photo. “The sun alone doesn’t tell you anything about a place,” said Mastroianni. “You need to find something interesting going on.”

• More photographers ought to consider moving around to improve composition. “I tell my students that they should make themselves physically uncomfortable,” said McEntee.

• And Cleveland itself makes quite a compelling subject. Said Zake, “You don’t have to fly across the ocean to take a great photo.”