Project Imagin8tion Grand Prize Winner!

A few weeks ago on my drive home from work, I got a phone call that I never in a million years would have expected. I looked at my phone and saw an out of state area code. I answered the phone and the voice on the other end said “Hello Walter, this is Jennifer with Alliance Agency and I would like to inform you that Ron Howard has selected your image for the Project Imagin8tion contest and you are a grand prize winner!” I was completely taken off guard, and it was all I could do to keep my car on the road as my stomach filled with butterflies and my head started spinning! I must have blacked out for a few minutes because I don’t remember the next moments of the conversation. All of a sudden I found myself parked in my driveway talking to Jennifer! The only thing I can remember is apologizing to Jennifer for not knowing what to say and assuring her that I was indeed excited, but just speechless! Verbally I was paralyzed but in my mind I was slow motion running on the beach pumping my fist into the air to the sound track of Chariots of Fire! Jennifer went on to tell me that Ron Howard had selected my image “The Final View” (The interior of an abandoned airplane cockpit) as the image that inspired the setting for his upcoming film. She went on to say that I would be flown up with a guest to New York City for the red carpet film premier, the after party, an opportunity to meet Ron Howard, and a selection of Canon photography equipment!

If you have not seen the TV ads for the contest you might be wondering what the heck I am talking about! Project Imagin8tion is a contest sponsored by Canon and YouTube where photographers submitted images to one of 8 categories; setting, time, character, mood, relationship, goal, obstacle and the unknown, with the hope of having their image selected by movie director Ron Howard as inspiration for his next film. Back in June I casually submitted 5 images to the contest. I picked a few shots from Grossinger’s, and the Airplane Graveyard and submitted them to the “Setting” category. I thought that any of these settings would make a great location for a movie. A few weeks later, beyond all odds, three of my images were selected as top 30 semi-finalists, and then after a nationwide vote, I made the top ten with “The Final View”.:

The Abandoned Airplane Graveyard formerly located in St. Augustine, FL. (Walter Arnold)

Ultimately my photo was one of eight selected from 96,362 total submissions. Which brings us back to me sitting in my driveway, stunned beyond belief, with Chariots of Fire drowning out the important information that Jennifer is trying to tell me.

After going over more of the details she dropped the bad news on me. “Now I know this is an extremely exciting time” she said, “But we must ask that you not tell ANYONE about this news. Canon is preparing its marketing campaign and will be announcing the news in a very exciting fashion sometime next month.”

Sometime next month?? Can’t tell anyone??? How am I supposed to keep a secret like that when I am already pricing out how much it would cost to have a loudspeaker and a megaphone attached to my car to tour the country and share the news!?!? And so began the longest month of my life trying to keep the biggest secret I have had to keep. So there, I said it! Cat’s outta the bag! Whew!

In all seriousness, I would like to thank everyone for their support and kindness over the years as I have pursued this hobby of mine which has evolved into much more over the last year. Thank you to all the followers of my blog and my work. Thank you my friends and family and to my wonderful fiancée Amanda who I can’t wait to have join me in NYC at the premier!

Here’s a link to the Huffington Post Article


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  • Walter, I was tremendously excited to hear of your brilliance being recognized in such a glorious way! How your photographs have conjured up the imaginations of countless fans, the subtle hypnotism of the images “frozen” in time and space. You can almost “hear” the water at Sapelo, smell the rust at the Penitentiary, while enjoying a massive Ruben at the counter at Grossinger’s. Proud of you…because you’ve earned it! Dan

    • Thank you so much for your very kind words Dan! I always strive to bring these places back to life through my photography, and I am so glad that you can see/feel that in my work! So glad you have enjoyed it! 🙂

  • I was a PEP Pilot, (Personnel Exchange Program), with the Turkish Navy squadron 301 at Ghengis Topel Air Station near Izmit Turkey from April 1976 until April 1978, There were five pilots over the five years of the program, (two at a time) from the start to finish. Mike Schum and Gary Dye are two of the three. I replaced the first pilot, Dave Parry, who went directly there from a fleet squadron with no language training and was there for a year before Gary Dye showed up. The program closed down in March of 1978 because of the deterioration and lack of preventative maintenance and a fatal single engine accident that killed the pilot instructor. The student survived the crash on short final with a broken leg. CNO closed the program in March 1978, in responding to an official letter from myself and Mike Schum that the lack of parts and the training and maintenance procedures practiced by the Turks was bad and getting worse, Part of the problem was twas the lack of money for parts and training programs that President Jimmy Carter had cancelled in 1976 for all US funding for all US/Turkish operational and maintenance program training as punishment for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus after the Greek Cypriots, backed by the Greek government had tried to take over the Turkish side of the island! A real example of why Carter is considered to be the worst president….so far. Tom Sanders

    • Tom,
      That confirms other reports I heard from back then.

      One guy said “…with all the equipment problems/broke down and parts issues…but mostly a lack of expertise to fix anything…they ended up just flying around looking out the windows for sub’s….They should have just bought Cessna 152’s to do that!!!”

      All the money and effort to get them the S-2’s…and they never used them to their potential…what a waste.

  • I was part of the test flight/ferry team that test flew and delivered the redone S-2E’s from St. Augustine to Topel Naval Air Base Turkey. I have many found memories of those days…a 150 gallon aux tank and a fifty gallon drum which gravity fed into it from the No. 3 radio operators seat position behind the cockpit. I remember taking 3 ship formations all the way to Turkey, flying over the North Atlantic stopping at Lajes, Rota and Sigonella Sicily …all at 10,000 feet with a wing and a prayer. Many ex-navy companions and I have many stories from those delivery flights. I’ll try and dig up a few photo’s…but I’ll try a post a longer story after I collect my thoughts. Now I fly Airbus 330’s across the North Atlantic to the major cities in Europe flying for a major airline. Not a single flight goes by where I don’t loook down and think back to those dark and stormy nights….flying over the ocean at 10,00 feet headed for Lajes airbase, waiting for an NDB needle to twitch to 12 o’clock (or close to it) confirming a good signal from the Azores beacon. Now I have plenty of high tech toys to tell me exactly where I am but I’ll never forget the hours spent in doubt during those long and dark nights.

    Cheers to all stoof drivers.
    Karl Clemmensen

    • Karl, I was CO of NAS Brunswick, ME when some of the Stoofs were ferried through. Several of the pilots were from the Jacksonville area and I knew them.
      Being a former Stoof driver, I was fascinated with the flight leg from Keflavik to Lajes. What a journey from St. Augustine to Turkey.
      Hello to all stoof drivers from VT to COD.
      Wayne Gullett